Gentle Answers Win

Have you ever said something that was sincere and honest truth but met resistance and an offended response?

Yea, I thought so. 🙂  You’re human like me!

But, you say, “I thought that the Bible said that knowing the truth sets people free?”

It does.  But, it also says in Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.”

A strong personality might now respond, “Yes, well I’m not going to dumb down or weaken my position just to satisfy somebodies tender feelings.  I say it like it is and let the chips fall where they may!”

I understand.  I used to feel the same way, myself (at least sorta although not that “in your face”), but I found I stirred up more hornets nests than was productive….as if stirring hornets nests is ever productive.

A gentle answer is not simply being soft spoken or warm and fuzzy.  It includes the idea of fashioning one’s words in such a way that they are receivable.

A gentle answer is seasoned with grace.  That means the speaker is taking the time to frame his or her words wisely.

Different words or phrases strike very different perceptions depending on the speaker and hearer’s life experiences.  Let me give an example:

It’s my belief that religion has created a lot of problems and has been devoid of the power that God desires for people to experience.  So, I may say, “I’m not about religion.  I’m about relationship.”  That sounds very cool, if you come from my side of the fence.

But what if the person has had many good experiences in the more traditional or ritual church format?  What if they actually found positive life change through Jesus there?  And, what if the word, “relationship” brings up a lot of painful memories?

Then, instead of being able to make any helpful point after that, I’ve stirred up a hornets nest of negative, painful emotions.

So…what’s the bottom line.  With God’s help and our due diligence, let’s learn to frame our words of truth with the wisdom they deserve.  Let’s honor each other in our communication.

That’s work.  That takes more time.  And that’s true Godliness in action.

Please leave your comments, experiences, or observation.

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  • I think we should just speak truth. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but in the end a truthful word will always have positive impact

    • I understand what you’re saying. I don’t believe we should compromise the truth, David. But, in my experience as a “just speak truth” person, myself, I’ve discovered that I can frame the same truth – just as clearly – with words that may not be comfortable (and that still challenge the situation) without being unnecessarily offensive and abrasive. I’m getting much further with the same people with some very effective results. Some people need “very blunt.” But, not as many as I thought when I wasn’t taking the time to think and instead was just “shooting from the hip.”