A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
And, with those words from the Preacher, you already know enough about me to write my biography.
Funny. I used to think I was the only one. Today, I look around this brave, new world in which we live, and I observe a tsunami of grievous words.
Surely the only possible outcome can be a firestorm of anger.
They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. Not my words—the prophet Hosea used them centuries ago. The truth hits home more today than at any time I can think of.
Daily we see it. In the public square, there is little civil discourse, only incendiary agitation. Names are called, accusations made, and arguments proclaimed with arrogance and demeaning language. And the other side simply sits quietly and waits their turn.
What? They don’t wait quietly? Well, of course they don’t.
In social media, on television, and through the radio waves, the volume is increased until no one can listen. The only way to inject a viewpoint into the conversation is to scream at opportune moments.
Aided by the instantaneous and public nature of our technology, the clamor is amplified exponentially.
The din is spectacular. And deafening.
And astonishingly pointless.
Quiet communication calms the brawling spirit, but argumentative voices fan the flames.
I still have the old Bible at home and use it frequently. The black leather cover is frayed and ragged at the edges and the binding is separated. And yet, the words on the flyleaf still jump out at me every time I open it. As if it had been written yesterday, the reminder still grips and convicts.
The beautiful script is the handwriting of a loving father who understood, all too well, his teen-aged son.
The words of which I speak are those of the Proverb which you see at the top of this essay.
My father knew his son. He knew what I was made of—knew my bent to argument and arrogance.
I have spent a lifetime trying to tame the beast within, the beast of pride and defiance. But, like the Apostle who was called the brother of our Lord, I have lost the battle with the tiny tongue again and again. James suggests there is not one of us who is able to tame our tongue. (James 3:3-8)
But, it must be tamed. Must be. And the tools are within reach.
The wisdom of our Creator is pure, peace loving, and considerate. (James 3:17)
You see, our Father knows His children and what they are made of. He knows our bent to arrogance and argument.
But, He wants better for us.
I chuckle as I recall the conclusion of James at the end of his disheartening exposé on the untameable tongue. The contrast with the prophet Hosea’s words is striking. James avers that peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:18)
We don’t have to sow the wind. We don’t have to reap the whirlwind. That crop is not profitable in any way.
Sowing peace, we reap righteousness.Sowing peace, we reap righteousness. Click To Tweet
Many of the voices I hear raised in rage today claim righteousness. I wonder.
Softly, softly. Our friends across the pond use the term to describe the approach most likely to yield the positive results we seek.
Perhaps we could try that.
Shhhh. Be vewy vewy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits.
(Elmer Fudd ~ Loony Tunes cartoon character)
People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.
(Will Rogers ~ American humorist/columnist ~ 1879-1935)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.