A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The great Charles Spurgeon tells the story of a dog that belonged to his next door neighbor that was particularly harmful to his plants because he always relieved himself on them. One evening, Spurgeon saw the dog from a ways off as the dog got ready to “water” his plants once again. The great preacher picked up a stick and hurled it at the dog while yelling at it, too. The dog, instead of running away, picked up the stick and returned it to Spurgeon’s feet with a wagging tail and a rather kindly look. Spurgeon had no choice but to pat him on the head and call him a good dog.
I don’t know about you, but when someone comes at me with harsh or angry or disrespectful words, I tend to respond in kind. When one of our kids is rude or talks down to my wife, I tend to respond with some harsh and/or angry words of my own. Far too many people choose to fight fire with fire when God’s Word makes it clear that we should fight fire with…well…a down pillow! Can a person fight a pillow? Impossible! The pillow will take any blows given to it without hitting back. There is no fight; all punches are absorbed, and the pillow is not hurt; anger quickly gives up, and the fight is over. Can you be a pillow to others’ anger?
It is your pride that argues against today’s Proverb by saying you must protect yourself. Fighting responses are only needed in severe provocations such as life or death situations or where criminal conduct could cost you dearly. Otherwise, the ordinary conflicts of life and transgressions by others are overlooked and ignored by those who believe in and act on the Word of God. The wisdom is simple: If someone is angry, use gentle speech to calm them. Do not use defensive or harsh words, for that will likely increase their anger. You can end conflict and fighting by speaking calming and gentle words. Every Christian must reject the foolish and wicked response of fighting fire with fire.