“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man and a word in season-how good it is! The tongue of the wise commends knowledge but the mouth of fools pour out folly.”
“A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. A gentle tongue is a tree of life but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15: v23; v2; v1; v4.
I notice that a bunch of references in Proverbs has to do about how I speak, what I speak about, and the consequences of what I said. There is so much to weave together for a clearer picture…
I jumbled up the order of these verses in Proverbs 15 on purpose. I wanted to organize these for myself into benefits and actions, expectations and executions.
I am well aware and remember those times where I have received an “apt answer” and given an apt answer. In both cases I recall my heart erupting in joy and satisfaction in God alone. When I have obviously a “holy” moment, a “divine appointment”, a situation organized by Jesus, that can be soooo rich-either on the receiving or giving end.
It is important to cultivate preparedness: I have to prepare my heart to receive; I have to prepare my heart and mind to give. I don’t want to be smart. I want to be wise. The difference between the two is the same difference between Pharisees and Jesus. I don’t want to spit out knowledgeable biblical data even if it theologically correct. I want to spit out an apt answer overlaid and dripping with wisdom.
Takes a while to get there. Some have the supernatural gift of Wisdom. Bully for them! But that doesn’t mean if I don’t that wisdom is unattainable through the Holy Spirit. Of course it is attainable. Just like James writes: “If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God (who gives generously to all without reproach) and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
The second part is the issue of controlling my tongue. “Soft answer?” “Gentle tongue?” I am more familiar with “harsh words” and “perverse” speaking. Boy, do I have a button that can be pushed. How often do I pray that the words of my mouth are a tree of life when I speak? Not often enough my wife can tell you.
Controlling the tongue so that I get the good instead of the bad: that’s what I want. That is what I pray for.
Lord Jesus, you are so good to care for us in this manner. You cause us to seek You. You cause us to think about You, to ponder Your ways and Your works. You point at the way of righteousness. I will be a fool if I stop paying attention to You.
Put a guard over my mouth, Holy Spirit. Keep me from the taste of shoe leather. To have a soft answer ready on my lips, I must cultivate a soft heart and a willing spirit. Help me to day by day work on this, be aware of this, and yield to You. AMEN.