1. A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
WHAT a mine of practical wisdom is this Book of God! Let us ponder this valuable rule for self-discipline, family peace, and Church unity. Scripture often illustrates the different effects of the tongue. The soft answer is the water to quench† — Grievous words are the oil to stir up, the fire.† And this is, alas! man’s natural propensity, to feed rather than to quench, the angry flame. We yield to irritation; retort upon our neighbour; have recourse to self-justification; insist upon the last word; say all that we could say; and think we “do well to be angry.” (Jonah 4:9.) Neither party gives up an atom of the will. Pride and passion on both sides strike together like two flints; and “behold! how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:5.) Thus there is the self-pleasing sarcasm; as if we had rather lose a friend, than miss a clever stroke. All this the world excuses as a sensitive and lively temper. But the gospel sets before us our Savior’s example;† imbues with his spirit;† and imparts that blessed “charity, that is not easily provoked;”† and therefore is careful not to provoke a chafed or wounded spirit. If others begin, let us forbear from continuing the strife.† ‘Patience is the true peace-maker.’† Soft and healing words† gain a double victory — over ourselves† and our brother.†