Aug 5, 2016
“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” (Proverbs 15:18 NIV)
אִ֣ישׁ חֵ֭מָה יְגָרֶ֣ה מָד֑וֹן וְאֶ֥רֶך אַ֝פַּ֗יִם יַשְׁקִ֥יט רִֽיב׃
Recently I completed reading Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The novel tells a story of revenge and obsession. Captain Ahab, a whaler, loses a leg to a white sperm whale. A smoldering anger begins to grow in the one-legged captain.
Captain Ahab’s anger grows into a fixation on revenge against the sea monster. As his hatred grows, so does his lack of wisdom. On his final whale-hunting trip, the driving force in his soul begins to override good judgment, putting the man, the crew, and his ship into hazardous situations.
As the captain hurls his ship, the Pequod, into the perilous seas of hate, his opportunity to take vengeance finally arrives. The white whale is within Ahab’s grasp. His desire for revenge grows deeper, ignoring every danger. In the end, the ship is lost; the crew, is lost; and Ahab loses both his quest and his life. The white whale has won
In Proverbs 15:18 King Solomon once again acknowledges the power of unharnessed anger. In Proverbs 15:1 Solomon previously addressed the power of anger and response of the person on the receiving end, “A gentle answer turns away wrath . . . ” (15:1). However, in verse 18 his advice for removing the harpoon out of the hands of an angry person takes a different turn.
In response to my article on Proverbs 15:1, one reader commented the advice of Solomon is unworkable. A fair question. Face it, we all have tried to cool down a heated argument with a calm response, but the flames rose higher regardless.
Is there something we can do to convince an angry individual to drop his sharpened missile? (more…)
Jul 28, 2016
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)
מַֽעֲנֶה־רַּ֭ךְ יָשִׁ֣יב חֵמָ֑ה וּדְבַר־עֶ֝֗צֶב יַעֲלֶה־אָֽף׃
For individuals reared in a home of discord, an environment of bickering and contention has become a family tradition.
A young rabbi faced a serious problem in his congregation. During erev Shabbat service, half the congregation stood for the prayers and the other half remained seated, and each side shouted at the other, insisting theirs was the true tradition.
Nothing the rabbi said or did helped solve the impasse. Finally, in desperation, the young rabbi sought out the synagogue’s 99-year-old founder. He met the old rabbi and poured out his heart. “So,” he pleaded, “was it the tradition for the congregation to stand during the prayers?”
“No,” answered the old rabbi. “Then it was the tradition to sit during the prayers,” responded the younger man. “No,” answered the old rabbi. “Well,” the young rabbi answered, “what we have now is complete chaos! Half the people stand and shout and the other half sit and scream.”
“Ah,” said the old rabbi, “that was the tradition.”
In Proverbs 15:1 Solomon, king of the nation of Israel, demonstrates his awareness of angry conflicts that boil over into our homes. The solution offered by the wise king is not for us to ignore angry words. Rather, he tells us returning harsh words with harsher words is non-productive and can heat up our relationships like a hot air balloon.
As we look at Proverbs 15:1 we are given an “out of the box” way of reacting to potentially heated exchanges and defusing a situation to open a door for God to bring His peace. (more…)
Jun 26, 2016
By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them. (ESV)
בְּֽפִי־א֭֭וִיל חֹ֣טֶר גַּאֲוָ֑ה וְשִׂפְתֵ֥י ח֝֝כָמִ֗ים תִּשְׁמוּרֵֽם׃
If all our words were put into print, the result would be: a single day’s words would fill a 50-page book, while in a year’s time the average person’s words would fill 132 books of 200 pages each! Among all those words there are bound to be some statements spoken in anger, carelessness, or haste. And someone is sure to get hurt.
Since often I write using my laptop at a variety of Starbuck locations, I am exposed to a myriad of conversations. Loud, obnoxious cell phone calls. Stodgy business conferences. Idle talk meetups. Annoying boardgame banter. I hear it all.
One morning I overheard a young woman on her cell grilling the person on the other end of the line like an CIA operative. Eventually she droned on about her need to “lose fat,” fleshed out every gory details of her recent eye surgery and fished voraciously for every scandalous minutia about some mutual friends. It was painful to witness her unmanaged tongue at work.
To deal with the need to manage our tongues, in Proverbs 14:3 Solomon focuses on the communication of the wise contrasted to the verbiage that pours out of the mouth of a fool.
Speech management is a theme threaded throughout the Book of Proverbs. Solomon continually warns his listeners one area where we demonstrate either wisdom or foolishness is the control of our tongue. (more…)