Water or Gasoline?


Proverbs 15:1  A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

The Lord started placing this verse on my heart a few weeks ago as walking home I noticed a man violently yelling at a woman (while being held back by family members) as she shouted profanity back at him. The next day I learned more about the situation.

  1. he had broken a beer bottle and threatened to slash her with it
  2. after being pulled back he returned and they threw bottles at each other in the street
  3. And later she went to his family members house which resulted in a profanity filled argument in the road

the most amazing thing to me is how that whole situation started…

She told his girlfriend she needed to go to the hairdressers

Now she shouldn’t have done that (obviously going out of her way to call the other woman ugly) but what could have been a quick conversation turned into a massive thing that everyone in the village was aware of.

which illustrates the idea of Proverbs 15:1. Here you have a soft answer that puts out a fire, and grievous words that stir it up. In other words you have a bucket of water (soft answer) and a bucket of gasoline (grievous words).

we can choose to use either bucket in confrontational situations…but 95% of the time, the water is needed instead of gasoline.

Using water in that young mans situation could have been calmly telling her to “mind her own business” ask “if she was jealous of his girlfriend” or even better just smile and say nothing! Then the next day people wouldn’t still be talking about the things that happened because of his words filled with gasoline.

the truly sad thing (and unfortunately he still doesn’t seem to understand this) is she WANTED him to pour gasoline on the situation with his words!

This verse also applies directly to me because self-control (particularly with speech) is one of the hardest things to develop. The fact that some people go out of their way to make you angry doesn’t help.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about some men who had become upset because we began putting up a chain so that they cannot park or congregate in front of the Church. Since then they have gone out of their way to make me angry.

  1. By smoking their weed three feet away from the Church chain
  2. Telling me I am unloving (among other more crude things)
  3. sitting on top of the chain smoking their weed (I make them move of course)
  4. and drinking at a house that you can clearly see from the Church

I am in the process of talking to the police because of their ridiculous behavior, but always go out of my way to greet them kindly on the street. That doesn’t mean they take advantage of me (they never actually step over the chain) but it also doesn’t mean I use hateful language towards them.

Using a bucket of water is difficult…but I know they want me to use gasoline

And all it takes is one angry word to create a blazing inferno

I’m grateful for these experiences because they remind me that self-discipline is one of the hardest, but most necessary tools to develop in ministry.


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