1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good. –Proverbs 15
Because I’ve always had a slight frame, perhaps that has increased the need I feel to have a big mouth. But whatever the reason–probably just because I’m a human being–I feel this need to be right, even if attaining this has me trampling feelings with desperate harshness.
It is easy to have a soft answer when someone is complimenting me or asking if I’d like another scoop of ice cream–in times like this, I’m brimming with the type of wisdom this Proverb proposes. But say something I disagree with and look out, the hell-fire (James 3:6) of my tongue will be unleashed.
What this shows, more than anything else, is a lack of trust. I think that is why verse 3 says “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” In other words, God knows. I don’t need to prove myself to Him. I don’t need to lay out all the facts and point, foot-stamping, at them. I don’t have to build a case against any my path crosses. At least, I don’t have to if I value God’s vantage and His power.
If God is the great judge, I need to prove myself to no other (nor to Him either, as Christ took my place). If God is all-powerful, I do not have to talk my way into being “right” as He can perfectly discern right from wrong no matter what is being said. If God is my ultimate authority, I don’t have to ‘win’ everyone else over. If He is all-important, breaking His commands to prove myself actually shouts that I am the all-important one.
Controlling my tongue and pouring wisdom rather than gushing folly is a difficult thing. But it is hard because often it isn’t my tongue I am trying to control–it is every single situation. If I focus on trusting God–He will avenge my wrongs and commend my rights–I don’t always have to be “on the clock” in self-defense . . . He is my defender. I don’t have to right every wrong. I don’t have to be the loudest voice in the room or lose sleep trying to think of just the right thing to say that will bring my opponent low. I don’t have to win every battle, knowing the war has been won.
In short, often I don’t have to say anything that proves my point. Instead, I can focus on saying something wise, something life-giving, something that bears in mind that it all doesn’t depend on what I say, or, if no such thing comes to mind, rest in the truth that I need not say anything at all.