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             Almost 1,000 years before Jesus lived on the face of the earth the wise man Solomon wrote; “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). The words written by Solomon are a proverb and that is that they intend to speak to a general principle without taking into account every single situation. There are times when the voice must be raised and when words must be spoken directly as Jesus often did to the Pharisees and other religious leaders of his day (Matthew 15:1-9, 16:1-4, 23:13-36, John 8:42-45). Jesus spoke bluntly to them because they were not intending to follow him, but instead lead the people away from him. So in order to save the people Jesus taught and preached very directly to the Scribes, Pharisees, and other religious leaders of the Jews. However, when Jesus was talking with a person of humble heart and a sincere desire to do what was right then Jesus spoke in a softer manner. For example to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 41-42), to the woman brought to Jesus that was supposedly taken in the act of adultery (John 8:1-12), and to the outcast Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). There were many other times when Jesus taught with great compassion and understanding for the situation that one might have found themselves in, and he did so to win their soul and because of the proverb “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
            The Apostle Paul understood this proverb also as he wrote; “But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). Paul always maintained the thought of the salvation of the individual in mind as he talked with them and taught them. Paul did not preach to simply “tell them off” or “let them have it”, but his goal was their salvation. “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech, or of wisdom declaring to the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). This did not mean that Paul did not reprove, rebuke, or correct (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:2). He did all of those things and more as he sought to reach the heart of the individual with the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16).
            The proverb stated by the wise man and the examples of Jesus and Paul help us as Christians to understand the power of words. James wrote of the power of the tongue in a negative manner: “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things” (James 3:5). The words that we used among those who are not Christians and among our brethren can be to bring glory and honor to God or can be to discourage. The words that Christians speak in this world should be designed to draw all people closer to God and His will. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt…” (Colossians 4:6).