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In The Bible Today; Proverbs 15
Understanding the Bible
The Bible is a timeless text of perennial wisdom. It tells us not only of God and mankind, but it also guides us on our path as spiritual beings in human bodies.
Though the Bible sometimes seems inapproachable and complex, these studies are designed to make the Bible accessible to everyone and applicable to everyday life.
This study uses the SOAP technique: Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. As you read through and study the bible, and a verse sticks out to you, write it down. Then write down your personal observations regarding the scripture, along with historical notations and any other pertinent information. After you make a thorough observation of the scripture, meditate on how you might apply the lesson learned to your own life. How can you use this particular verse to improve your life or make your spiritual journey better? Finally, write out a prayer to God, as you think about the scripture.
This technique will help you find more meaning from your study of scripture, and will help deepen your walk along a spiritual path.
Proverbs 15:1,18: 1. "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." 18. "A wrathful man stireth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife." King James Version
Proverbs 15: 1, 18: 1. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." 18. "A hot tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel." New International Version
Proverbs 15: 1, 18: 1. "A soft and gentle and thoughtful answer turns away wrath, but harsh and painful and careless words stir up anger." 18. "A hot tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger and patient calms disputes." Amplified Bible
Observation: These two verses dovetail to give an idea of how we ought to speak and behave. If we listen, these verses direct us in the way to avoid conflict and promote peace in our relationships.
It is often easy to speak harshly. A harsh word is not necessarily spoken in anger. When we respond impulsively, or without thinking or being mindful of the present moment, then we can speak harsh, cruel and unkind words.
We feel impatient, annoyed, tired or put out. We reply to someone with harsh words or a hard tone. Suddenly an innocent request takes on the form of an argument because someone feels unjustly attacked. A simple request, followed by a mindless and harsh response leads to hurt feelings, anger or worse. We can turn the tide of harsh and critical speaking, and in so doing, we can repair and restore relationships in our families, with our friends and with our co-workers.
Unfortunately, I do this with my children all too often. My daughter will ask an inane (to me) question at the end of a long day. Exasperated, I let out a quick annoyed breath, followed by an irritated response. Said daughter is then hurt, confused and angry. She reacts by yelling at her sister or kicking the dog. The spiral continues downward, until, by the end of the day someone is crying, I am yelling and everyone goes to bed mad.
Or imagine you come home from work after a long day. As soon as you step in the door, your spouse or partner peppers you with requests, questions and comments. You immediately snap an irritated response, and your partner withdraws, slamming dishes in the kitchen, yelling at the kids, and going to bed angry. Now, you are both tired and irritated and too worn out to work it out.
I have found a way out of this morass for myself, and hopefully, it will work for you too. Instead of reacting immediately to the question or request from our child, our partner, a friend or coworker, take a deep breath. Don't say anything right away. It might take two or three deep breaths. Allow yourself to step out of your stress and into the present moment. Allow the breaths to cleanse and calm your mind and relax your body.
Then, respond with gentleness and patience, keeping in mind that the other person is not attacking. They are making a request. And sometimes requests come out harsh, just as our answers do. Don't take the request or comment personally. Take a moment to breathe and center yourself. Allow your body and mind to relax. Respond with your own truth, but share your truth with kindness and love. In this way, you honor yourself, you honor your truth, and you honor the relationship. In this way, you can offer love instead of anger.
I knew a hot tempered man for many years. He exploited every opportunity to criticize, belittle and condescend to every person with whom he came in contact. Often embarrassing and humiliating, we got into many uncomfortable situations. I learned to cultivate a soft spoken apologetic demeanor in response to these outbursts. By learning to react with patience, calmness and balance, many public outrages were quieted.
When we take a moment to breathe, to center and ground ourselves, and to identify our own truth, then we can answer kindly. First seek to understand, then seek to be understood.
In the end, it is all about God
A Study in Proverbs
Application: If we practice mindful speaking and patience, we can avoid or calm stressful situations. Being mindful requires only a split second of breathing deeply and engaging the brain. If we make a commitment, just for today, to speak gently or calmly or patiently, we will see a wonderful response in those close to us.
To speak mindfully in a given situation, take a moment to breathe. As you inhale, notice how your body feels, and notice how your emotions feel. As you exhale, release tension, fear, anger, and whatever other negative or heavy emotions that are caught up in your body.
Take a second to check in and listen to the small still voice of the Holy Spirit deep inside of you. It is a quiet urging that can only be heard when the mind is calm.
Identify your own truth in the situation. Speak your truth with kindness and love.
It is my family who usually suffers the brunt of my impatience, irritation and mindless speech. Just for today, I will pause just a moment before speaking. Just for today, I will listen fully before I speak. For this moment, I will speak kindly, graciously and with compassion.
The evolved mind is one that thinks before speaking. Taking just a moment to engage your spirit, and disengage the ego can make a world of difference in your speech, and in your attitude overall.
It is not only the words we say that show our impatience, irritation or anger. Rolling the eyes, grimacing, and quick, exasperated breaths all convey the message that our ego is displeased. By taking time to reflect on what we truly want to communicate, we can avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings. We can speak our truth with kindness and love, and honor ourselves, the truth, and the people around us.
Prayer: Father God, you deal so gently and kindly with me every day. Cultivate a heart of peace in me today. Strengthen me and give me the grace to speak gently and act patiently. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you today, and show me the error of my ways. Today Lord, let me share your message of love and forgiveness as I go into the world.