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Hard Times & Soft Answers (published in The North Weld Herald 7/16/09)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:14 PM by Fccea Webmaster
In a classic Peanuts comic, Charlie Brown is warned that all the girls are angry with him. The girls confront him with many complaints and then ask, "What have you got to say for yourself?" Rather than arguing, Charlie says, "Nothing. You girls are absolutely right, and I'm glad to hear you feel this way." After they leave he turns to look at the reader and says, "My soft answer hath turned away a whole flock of wrath."

The art of the soft answer. It gets short shrift in our narcissistic society. It is certainly not the way to defend one's rights. But the truth is, it is as effective as it ever was at mending fences, creating harmony and removing alienation. It just isn't practiced as much as it once was nor valued as highly.

As the oldest of 11 children, eight of whom were rough and tumble boys, I can tell you that one of the early Scripture verses we were taught was Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." It didn't solve all the problems, but it was a constant reminder that there is a better way. The impact of that instruction goes a long way, I believe, to explaining the close-knit relationships we enjoy today, these many years later.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26b-27, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." The implication is, of course, that by hanging on to anger I am opening myself up to increased frustration, further dissension and wasteful feelings of revenge. Nothing good can result, that's for sure. But it's so hard to let go of -- because I must look out for my rights!

Let me suggest an alternative way to look at it. Ephesians 4:27 literally reads "and give no place to the devil." There is another verse in Romans 12:19 that says, "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay,' says the Lord." The phrase "leave it to the wrath of God" literally reads, "give place to the wrath of God." Put these together and we have a very reasonable alternative to harboring ill-feelings. Don't give place to the devil by hanging on to anger, but do give place to the (righteous) wrath of God -- who can right your wrong with control, balance and justice.

God isn't asking us to be a doormat here. He is simply asking those who truly seek Him to trust their rights to Him. Move the burden of "rights protection" to a much more competent Protector. In the meantime, our soft answer just may turn away a whole "flock of wrath", and wouldn't that be good for everyone? Hard times at home or work? Try some soft answers.

By His Grace, Pastor Dave