The Dangers of Harsh Words

October 1, 2021 | Written by Titus Jr Laxa

           

"A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger."

Proverbs 15:1

Have you ever regretted saying something to someone? Many of us have, yet I believe if there is one common thing that many of us regret, it is the tone by which we have said things. Some of us may be wishing that we had not spoken harsh words with a family loved one before he or she passed away. Some of us may have regretted destroying a friendship over a harsh argument you had with him. Yet, why are we so prone to speak harsh words?

The Appeal of Harsh Words

Harsh words are often preferred among the people. Whether it be in reality shows, the corporate world, in day-to-day conversations, harsh words are normal in today's society. Many prefer speaking harsh words, say a boss towards his employee, or friends in conversational banter, because of three commonly held beliefs. First, many believe that harsh words, though hurtful, are at least a sign of the person's authenticity. Being frank, even if the tone of the frankness is harsh, is applauded because at least the person is telling us what he really feels. On the other hand, soft answers are regarded with suspicion, that the one speaking politely and thoughtfully is doing so because of a hidden agenda, i.e. not being real. Second, many see harsh words as a justified response to someone's attack and a defense against those who may try to push us around. Many don't mind responding harshly because in their mind, they are just responding to someone who have spoken harshly or treated them harshly in the first place. Many still hold to the 'eye for an eye' philosophy. Third, harsh answers are considered necessary to defend oneself from being pushed around by others. When one speaks soft answers, one is considered easy to manipulate or push around.

Many don't mind responding harshly because in their mind, they are just responding to someone who have spoken harshly or treated them harshly in the first place.

The Problem with Harsh Words

Yet Scripture seeks to correct our problematic understanding regarding harsh words and soft answers. On soft answers, the passage tells us that God has set it as a means to turn away wrath. Why does it turn away wrath? Soft answers can potentially deescalate an argument. When one is in the heat of an argument, anger boiling over on both sides, a soft answer can calm both the one speaking and the one listening. If two people are arguing with one another, one who speaks a soft answer can disarm the tension of the argument, and when both sides are calm, solutions and understanding can be sought together. On the other hand, harsh words truly stirs up anger. Have you ever experienced an escalating argument with someone that escalated because no one will back down? One primary reason why harsh words escalate arguments is because escalating voices and harsh words triggers ones pride, and once a person's pride is triggered, he won't easily back down until he feels that he has won. As ones' pride is affected, the emotions can overtake logic and reason easily. Once logic, reason, and affection is remove, all is left is anger towards someone.

One primary reason why harsh words escalate arguments is because escalating voices and harsh words triggers ones pride, and once a person's pride is triggered, he won't easily back down until he feels that he has won.

The Call to Give Soft Answers

Have you recently used harsh words against someone? What was the consequence? How did it affect your relationship with that person made in the image of God? If you are one who is used to dishing out harsh words, let the Word of the LORD confront and correct you, and may His grace work in your heart, that your desire will be to speak soft answers instead of harsh words.

O, Lord Jesus, give us a heart to speak the way You want us to speak towards one another.


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