A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Years ago, a high-school friend handed me a jar with a squished face that read "pickled people." I never did quite understand the meaning of that gift, but, I do know that if it had read "prickled people", I would have better understood. Prickled people are a daily encounter for me.
Once, while supervising a medical facility, I was pulled into a situation that required my intervention. This particular medical consumer was feared by all, due to the foul, vile manner is which this patron spoke, and the harsh demands placed upon the staff. This day was no different, except it was my turn to be the object of such vile and languishing humanity. As I stood listening to the violent screams and vulgar language being cast upon me, in addition to the threat of my license being future owned by this prickled person, I felt a spirit of compassion wash over me. I realized this thorny soul was really a hurting soul. The prickly language and threats being cast out were really a form of self-protection from a fear of being wounded yet again. In that moment I chose to hug this prickled person with words that reflected the gentleness of a Savior that died so that prickled people could have an opportunity to live eternally. What happened next was the evidence of God's love being poured out through obedience to His precept of how to turn away wrath-speak a gentle answer in return.
In that circumstance, I was reminded that Christ died for all prickly people, including myself. God is intent on owning the hearts of those he died for. It is my job, as His ambassador, to accurately represent His intent. As an ambassador, it is important what I wear -- compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12-17). In that moment, it mattered how I responded, as it does in all of life's moments.
God loves prickled people, and He will do whatever it takes to offer them eternal life with Him. This may include using you to represent His Kingdom and its principles. Remember, the next time you feel the sting of someone's prickle, it may be God's invitation to represent Him and His eternal Kingdom to a wounded soul in need of a Savior who promises rest and security. Today, embrace the next prickled person you encounter.
Father, thank you for using prickled people to remind me of why you died. Thank you for loving and dying for me, when I too am prickled. Amen.