We should ‘LEARN’ to SPEAK SOFTLY: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness." (Prov. 15:1-2)
The influence of our words and speech dominates the content of Proverbs 15. It is the wise men and women who know how to use their tongues skillfully, due to which they can avert angry confrontation (v. 1), dispense knowledge (v. 7), and communicate joy (v. 23). The power of words to build up or to destroy relationships is also stressed in this chapter through verses 2, 4, 7, 14, and 23. A wise person’s tongue pours forth helpful information. He/she knows what, when, where, and how to speak. On the other hand, foolishness gushes like a torrent from the mouth of fools.
A gentle or conciliating answer prevents wrath from bursting forth or from increasing. If we answer someone with a harsh word, it stirs up their fleshly nature that will result in a heated confrontation and a quarrel without much delay. While anger can be removed by a gentle response, a heated response fuels the flame. Gideon gave a soft answer to criticism from others due to which their anger was subsided (see Judges 8:1-5).
The power for good and evil that lies in the human tongue is awesome. A soft word will often disarm a person whose heart is bent upon great harm, whereas harsh words serve only to stir up great anger. Often it is not so much what we say but the way we say it that prompts such varied responses as acceptance and wrath. A good example to note is in Abigail’s gentle words to David when he was angry (see 1 Sam. 25:12–34).
A wise person masters the art of producing the right answer at the proper time and place, and often allows angry words to pass unchallenged by having his/her own personal feelings in subjection. This wise person knows when to speak and uses his/her knowledge to be profitable for the hearers. The wise share knowledge and are like fruitful trees that feed many (v. 4). On the other side, a fool is always ready with an answer, but people are seldom profited by his/her foolish contribution. Fools pour out words that accomplish nothing (v. 2).
So, when we open our mouths remember the fact that we let people know whether we are foolish or wise. Let us practice to talk low, talk slow and not say too much. We should bite our tongues before our tongues bite us. Let us build people up and not tear them down through our words. Let our tongues “use knowledge rightly”. Let us set a guard over our lips, control our tongues, evaluate every thought that we think and watch every word that we speak.
"Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." (Col. 4:5-6)