20th February 2012

Give As Good As You Get!

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)
 

The retort stung.  It was unexpected and intended to hurt.  I took it personally.  A flood of emotions ensued – shock, humiliation, anger and equally sharp words of retaliation.  I took a deep breath and remained silent.  I can’t remember if I smiled – if I did it was probably a grimace!  A witness to the comment later suggested to me, “Give as good as you get!”  Conversely, that phrase turned my head and heart around – the Holy Spirit gave me cause to think, “That is not what my Saviour says!”  Thank you Father for your Holy Spirit!

From one wounding comment came forth an avalanche of thoughts on how to react to unkindness.  Giving as good as one gets does not work.  Everyone knows that the eye for an eye tenet in Exodus 21:24 produces a planet of blind humanity.  In Matthew 5:38-39 the principle of turning the other cheek does work – it is just harder to apply.  Of ourselves it is well nigh impossible – someone hurts us and our human nature picks up the gauntlet and retaliates not to even up the score, but to get one better on the other person.

The burning question is – does that create peace?  We know it does not – for millennia families and nations have been torn apart by retaliatory words and actions. The apostle John acknowledges that of ourselves we can do absolutely nothing right. (John 15:5). Jesus, knowing our human frailties, gave us the Holy Spirit to rely on for guidance and wisdom.  Read Luke 12:12:  “for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.

The soft answer, or no answer, works!  Proverbs 15:1 tells us God delights in the soft answer.  So often Jesus responded in this manner when accosted by enemies.  There is an inspiring verse in the Bible that describes lyrically God’s reaction to responses directed by the Holy Spirit.  In Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV) it says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.This principle when applied will bring peace and harmony and thus ‘give even better than you get.’

Prayer
Loving Father who has blessed us with your Holy Spirit, receive our thanks for this wonderful Guide and Comforter. Help us by the power of your Holy Spirit to be a light of kindness in a world of cruelty.
Amen

Study by Irene Wilson

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