When I was a child, I remember my mom saying that when people are arguing the person who needs to have the last word actually loses. As a result, we siblings would taunt each other if we were arguing by saying, “Oh! You got the last word. You lose!” The wisdom that my mom was trying to instill in us was lost in the competitive nature that we threw into the mix. While I understand the message she was trying to give us (it takes two to argue, just don’t say anything), sometimes an argument can be ended with humility and a gentle word. I have even found that if I am offended by something, giving myself time to step back and calm down immediately changes the potential outcome. If I can approach the person calmly and gently to tell them of the problem rather than reacting immediately the conversation goes much smoother. Sometimes a person may have an excellent point to bring to the table, but the tone in which it is said can change how the information is received. I have witnessed meetings in which some people expressed their views angrily; however, the meeting ended calmly because the leader of the meeting never answered harshly. Even when the leader’s answers were going to make some people unhappy, because his approach was gentle while saying difficult things people walked away calmer than when they came in. Please turn to Proverbs 15:1 to see what the Bible says about a gentle answer.
Sometimes it is not easy to give a gentle answer if we feel like we are being attacked; however, if our goal is to calm things down we can remember to be gentle in our words. If it is especially difficult, it also helps to ask God to remind us how much He loves the other person. When we can remember that this person is dearly loved by God and we are to love them as well, that will help motivate us to have gentle words in reply. I have also found that perspective helps and remembering that maybe the person isn’t necessarily responding to me but is responding to a bad day will also help me to be gentle. I think anyone who works in some kind of customer service would tells us that situations can be diffused if they remain calm and gentle with the customer who is upset. I think of the example Jesus gave us as He was being arrested. Please turn to Luke 22:47-51.
Jesus was being arrested with no guilt, and when one of His disciples attacked a servant of the high priest Jesus stopped him. Jesus touched the man and healed him and went with His accusers calmly. I think the scene in the garden that night would have been horrific if Jesus would have chose not to be gentle; instead, His gentleness only demonstrates to the world of His greatness. As a result of His gentleness not another person was hurt. Jesus’ gentleness that night made it so that He would be the only one to die and He has the power to conquer even death. As I think on that, it makes me realize that is one way we are asked to die to ourselves. It is so much easier initially to respond and attack in defense, but when we die to our pride and can respond gently things turn out so much better for everyone involved.
Are you praying and asking for the strength it takes to be gentle? Are you willing to die to your pride to create a calm environment?