When I think of a harsh word or a gentle answer, I think of Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Anger is defined as a strong feeling of displeasure or belligerence aroused by a wrong. If I look at my own reactions to situations sometimes, I allow my emotions get the best of me and the harsh word will come out before the gentle answer. Thankfully over the years and with much personal growth this occurs less frequently.
Why isn’t the gentle answer our default? Could it be partly the way the world expects us to always win, to get to the top of our field, to be better than everyone else, but if we only focus on that, do we ignore empathy and compassion? Another reason could be you have been taken advantage of in the past and in order to get your voice heard you feel like you need to be louder and speak with force. Either way it is not the way Jesus would want us to respond. Jesus would ask us to respond with love and kindness. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28 Although we all struggle to achieve this; it is something to pray about and work toward.
This week’s podcast I am reviewing is called Rhythms for Life with Gabe and Rebekah Lyons. They are husband and wife who live in Tennessee. Rebekah Lyons is a national speaker and bestselling author of Rhythms of Renewal book. An old soul with a contemporary, honest voice, Rebekah reveals her own battles to overcome anxiety and depression—and invites others to discover and boldly pursue their God-given purpose from a place of freedom. In this podcast they interview Scott Sauls, he is the senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, co-founder of the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work, and an author. He previously served at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church as a lead and preaching pastor alongside Dr. Timothy Keller. His new book “A Gentle Answer” is based off of Proverbs 15:1 and is a great resource for anyone seeking to engage Christianity in a divided culture. In the podcast they talk about his new book and about how Scott overcame anxiety and depression. Scott says “If you are going through a panic attacks or anxiety there are strategies and resources, people and communities that can come along side you to help you. The cure rate is very high if you are resourced well. Depression is harder to come out of. You can do it with medication or without but always with counseling! Don’t take enough medication to take all the pain away, just take enough so you can think clearly. You will need friends who have walked through it that you can talk to and trust.” Gabe asked Scott to describe to people that Pastors don’t have it all together and don’t have it all figured out. They are just like everyone else. Scott talks about two Pastors who committed suicide when he was in seminary. One of them wrote a note stating “I have been wrestling with depression for a while. I am trying to get help but I know I am going down. When a minister discloses to the people that he serves that he is struggling with depression he will lose his ministry.” Scott makes a very strong point saying “We all have some form of brokenness or form of I am not complete. Jesus needs to make this new for us. Pastors feel like they cannot talk about it.” His point about having friends who are walking close to God to lean on and talk to is so important. Gabe states “The world pits us against each other. You are the voice telling us this is not the way it has to be.” Scott responds saying his book brings gentlness into a hostile environment. “It seems some people have an impulse to judge and punish. This increases anxiety for those who want peace.” Gabe points out “anxiety, stress, and overachieving can be fueled by a culture that says we have to win but Scott’s message is you need to love not win! You don’t lose points from God because you are gentle and kind to people who you think are wrong on certain issues that are important to you. You actually win because you demonstrating His love for them.” This is a good message and I hope you will listen to the full podcast and find areas in your life where you could use a gentle word instead of a harsh answer.
My uplifting piece to the blog is an Instagram video by Carlos Whittaker, it is him talking to his white neighbor about why he painted his white bunny statue black. The video is called “Now For the Hard Part of Ending Racism.” It made me cry in a good way.
Rebekah Lyons’ website