Tag Archives: a soft answer turns away wrath

Putting Out The Fire Of Anger


One of my favorite activities is camping, and one of the first things you have to know when camping is how to build a fire. Equally important is how to put out a fire. There are two ways to do that: quit putting logs on it or add water. By not putting logs on it, you let the fire burn to a slow death. Ive learned that even though there’s not a fire present, there are still embers below the ashes that can easily be ignited into a fire. To prove it, I like to go out in the morning, grab some small wood pieces, and start a fire with no matches. The “don’t feed the fire any logs” method isn’t the best way to put it out.

The best way is to apply water. Even though you add water and the flames die down, the same thing happens here as when you withhold logs. There are still embers beneath the surface that can be ignited. You must pour some water, stir the ashes, and pour more water until the fire is out. Putting out fires is a skill that we should learn. If you don’t do it right, you run the risk of starting a new fire and creating a lot of damage. Many of the most damaging forest fires were started by a small ember campers thought were put out.

The same way you put out a fire is the same way you help get rid of anger. You can choose to hide from the person who’s angry or you can calm the anger with words. Avoiding a person who is angry simply lets their anger boil under the surface. It can easily be reignited with the smallest things. All may look well on the surface, but underneath the ashes of the aftermath are embers waiting to be given fuel to grow. Yes, you may need to step away from the situation to allow both sides to cool down, but I don’t recommend this method for resolving situations.

Proverbs 15:1 gives us the real answer. It says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (NLT). Your response to someone’s anger determines whether the situation escalates or is put out. Arguing back is like putting another log on the fire. Offering a gentle response is like adding water to a fire. You’ll have to keep your composure and continue offering soft answers until it is resolved. One answer won’t repair the situation immediately. It requires continued patience, understanding, and gentleness to help calm the anger in others. If you leave it unresolved, you may create a fire that gets out of control and causes irreparable damage. 

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Mercy And Restoration

Every time I read about King David in the Bible, I come away with a deeper respect for him. In II Samuel, life was going good for David. He was king and had just brought his son, Absalom, home to set aside their differences. Instead of being grateful, Absalom stole the hearts of Israel, betrayed his father and took the kingdom away from him. David had to flee his beloved Jerusalem to keep from being killed. As he was taking one last look from the summit of the Mount of Olives, he was met by the servant of Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth was Jonathon’s son and King Saul’s grandson. David had taken him in and let him eat from his table. When David asked the servant where he was, the servant said, “He stayed behind to reclaim his grandfather’s kingdom.” I’m sure that hurt David after all he had done for him. David said, “In that case, you get everything he owns.” As David turned to continue on his exile, another man related to Saul started yelling curses at David and throwing rocks at him. He yelled out, “Get out of here you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord is paying you back. You stole his (Saul’s) throne.”

One of David’s men grabbed his sword and asked permission to cut off his head. David screamed, “No! Who asked your opinion?” He then told them that his own son is trying to kill him. Why shouldn’t a member of Saul’s family have even more reason to? Instead of killing the man who was taunting him, throwing rocks at him and made him weary, he let him be. He showed mercy. He showed great restraint in dealing with everything that was going wrong.

We each have people in our life who have betrayed us. We have people who use words like daggers and stab us in the back. We have people who get under our skin and wear us out. It’s nothing new. It’s been happening for millennia. David showed us a different way to handle them. He showed us that there is another option. In II Samuel 16:12, David said, “Perhaps The Lord will see that I’m being wronged and will bless me.” He knew that if he lashed out in anger, he removed the chance of blessing. He wanted to leave the door open for God to help him.

How do you respond to the people who won’t leave you alone? Do you fight back? Do you get into endless arguments? Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” It could be that your response is keeping you in that perpetual cycle. If you want to change the circumstance, change your response to it. Show mercy instead of anger. Have patience instead of lashing out. Open the door for God to bless you instead of slamming it shut. Show love instead of hate. Give back blessings instead of curses and watch what God does. It may take a while, but God will restore you like he did David.

By the way, David did get his kingdom back. It turned out Mephibosheth’s servant was lying. David took half of the belongings back and gave them to Mephibosheth. He then let him continue to live in the palace. The man who cursed him, apologized and was forgiven. All of this was done because David did not sin when he was losing everything. Keep your head up. God sees what you’re going through. He sees the attacks and has not forgotten you. He will restore you.

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