I can sure tell when other people are losing their tempers. I hear the pitch of their voices rise. I note the sharpness of tone. I see the flashes in their eyes, the scrunch of their brows, the hard line of their mouths. They have stopped listening because they have so many important things to say. I can tell that their emotions are clouding their logic. So why can’t I see those same things when I’m doing them?
In the midst of an argument, why do I feel so righteous? so defensive? so bitter? Has God done nothing for me? Have I not been spoiled rotten with blessings I don’t deserve? Has he not called me to be a peacemaker, not a warmonger? When you see me going off like this, call a time-out and whisper this Scripture passage in my ear: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
I function best as God’s ambassador in a fallen world not so much when I show everybody that I’m right but when I help to de-escalate a conflict and reconcile two enemies into being friends again. Here’s what I’m going to work on this week: keep my voice soft, ask a lot of questions before pontificating, assume kind and good motives in others rather than assuming the worst, listen twice or three times before speaking, and double-check my agenda to make sure it’s God’s.
Say it with me: “Gentle.”