Journal Prov 15 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Prov 15:1
Observation: There is a proverb I remember from my youth: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This is oh, so, true when thinking how to address righteousness in my life and mortifying sin.
Analysis: Nobody arrives “mature in Christ.”
To be clear, when the description of mature is referencing a believer, the measuring stick is Jesus himself. So, when anyone thinks of himself as “mature”, they are not thinking with a clear understanding—basically fooling themselves and “thinking more highly of themselves than they ought.” (Ro 12:3)
So, I have concluded that growing in godliness (growing in maturity) is like trying to eat an elephant. I need to tackle one or two things and concentrate on them, add something else later, be prepared to throttle back to the original objectives, and do that for the rest of my life.
Proverbs is a “one bite of the elephant” sort of book. While each chapter may have a theme, each verse (or two) can stand alone as a teaching, challenging me to “master this one, I dare you to try…”
“A soft answer turns away wrath…” So, what personal, indwelling sin, characteristic must I acknowledge and put effort into attacking? First thoughts?
- Cultivate gentleness. Fruit of the Spirit? Check.
- Humility. I am in no position in Christ to command anything.
- Control the raging, destructive fire that is my tongue (my mouth).
- I have all the ability but ZERO right to “air my chest”; to communicate my hurts to another, only to the Father who “gathers our tears in a bottle.
- Prepare to extend sincere forgiveness, not letter of the law forgiveness when my gentle answer does not turn away wrath. People will still get offended and that must be worked through in love, candidness, and transparency—even if you are the only side of the argument that is trying to practice that.
There is probably a lot more that is not coming clear in my mind. I could spend all day unpacking these few words in Prov 15:1, identifying all the facets of the Gospel jewel that involves successfully implementing this verse.
But, just on the bald face of it, if I keep my answers soft and well-modulated, avoid being harsh, intrusive, and commanding, I can have a good opportunity to keep anger and verbal violence out of any conversation—something I candidly fail at with my wife. I know why though; I fail at patience and care. I have to “reset” my heart (like I mentioned above).
Onward and upward to the high calling in Christ!!
Prayer: Father, help me become steady in pursuit of You; one step by one step, etc. My love for you is in chasing you down, learning all about You, not just packing knowledge in, but seeing how this is Your Character you want me to know and emulate you about. My enthusiasm about You is found in how I represent the Gospel to the world.
O Spirit: be with me in my pursuit of You.
Ricky Two Shoes