Picture this scene: Your spouse or roommate stands in front of you. You’ve been engaged in a fifteen-minute conversation, and he or she has told you things that are hard to hear. You’ve messed up, and you need to be humble. But your pride is getting in the way. You can feel it welling up inside of you. “That’s not true.” “If you only knew how I have to put up with you.” “Do you know how much grief you cause me?” Rather than hearing your friend, you’re tempted to anger, retaliation, or defending yourself. There is an inner lawyer running around in your brain saying: “You’ve got this. Don’t put up with this junk. Let’s prove that you are right and they are wrong.”
Can you relate to this? Have you ever struggled to humbly hear a friend’s difficult words in a hard conversation?
Here’s a proverb to consider: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). We’re tempted to be harsh. To be mean. To condemn. To hurt the other person. To vent our disgruntled feelings. But none of this brings biblical reconciliation.
The proverb calls for a soft answer. Grace, kindness, and humility promote conversations. They create an environment where two people can talk with each other honestly, hopefully, and fruitfully. Go back to the hard conversation with your spouse or roommate. Maybe he or she is red hot with blazing anger. What do you do?
Do you defend yourself? That’s liable to make things worse.
Do you walk out and slam the door? That’s no better.
Do you construct a logical argument and shove it down their throat? That’s even worse.
Do you ignore them and hope it will go away? No, that’s denial.
Do you just take it and hope to absorb enough so you can move on? That’s not any good for your well-being.
A soft answer turns away wrath. Your gentleness and kindness can de-escalate your spouse’s or roommate’s rage rather than energizing it further and making the situation worse. Your carefulness can offer loving, uplifting, encouraging words that demonstrate personal commitment to the relationship.
You think, “I can’t do any of this in a fight. I’m more prone to harshness and condemnation.” But that’s where Christ makes a difference. By your own strength, in your own flesh, you can’t do any of this. Supernaturally, the Lord must change you—to love and speak in a way that reflects His love. We love because He first loved us. He’s changed our hearts; now, we live like Him. Remember Christ with Martha and Mary when Lazarus died. Or Jesus talking with the woman at the well. Or His caring for the blind, mute, deaf, and discarded of His day. There you will find a picture of gracious love that you can follow. Are you willing to live like Christ, who modeled gracious and kind answers in hard situations?