“And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath” (Ephesians 6:4). “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). What actions are provoking? Here are a few examples:
· Infidelity (Ezekiel 20:28)
· Mockery (Job 17:2)
· Anger (Proverbs 15:18)
· Pride (Proverbs 28:25)
· Hatred (Proverbs 10:12)
· Grievous words (Proverbs 15:1)
“Provoke not . . . to wrath.” “Grievous words stir up anger.” What is the difference between provoking someone to wrath and stirring up that person to anger? There is no real difference.
If I want to avoid provoking my family to wrath, I must avoid using grievous words. If you want to avoid provoking your children to wrath, you must avoid using grievous words.
Our words are powerful. The Bible says that our words have the power to
· Cause arguments and separate close friends (Proverbs 16:28)
· Make us more ungodly (II Timothy 2:16)
· Pierce people’s hearts like physical weapons (Proverbs 12:18)
· Kill (Proverbs 18:21)
· Corrupt and poison (James 3:5-8)
· Crush people’s spirits (Proverbs 15:4)
But words also have power to
· Meet people’s needs and build them up (Ephesians 4:29)
· Heal people (Proverbs 12:18)
· Give pleasure and sweetness (Proverbs 16:24)
· Persuade (Proverbs 25:15)
· Communicate knowledge (Proverbs 20:15)
· Cheer people up (Proverbs 12:25)
· Give life (Proverbs 18:21)
· Turn away wrath (Proverbs 15:1)
Which set of “powers” do you want to use on your family? Which way of speaking gets you what you really want? Think about it for a moment. Does your family seem more eager to please you when you snap and yell, or less? The truth is that our anger will never make anyone more righteous (James 1:19-20). But kind words will help them learn (Proverbs 16:21).
What kind of words did the valiant woman of Proverbs 31 use? Verse 26 says that “she openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Did it work for her? Skip down to verse 28 to see just how well it worked.
One last thought: a mature person will not be easily provoked. God’s Word makes this clear in I Corinthians 13:5. IT is natural to be provoked by the grievous words or those around you, but it is not good. Learn to entrust yourself to God and forgive others for the hurtful things they say. This will free you to speak the kind words needed to rebuild relationships in your family.