15 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.
4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Solomon likens a tree to a gentle answer in a disagreement. Mouth-in-motion is certainly a disease that our culture struggles to balance with freedom of speech. How we express our truth to another can be a deal-maker or a deal-breaker. So how does that relate to trees and why does Solomon give us that image to think about? Interesting.
Trees do not force themselves on us but grow tall, presenting their truth. When watered, green leaves spread out. When neglected and forgotten, some trees and plants wilt and die. Some trees can withstand fire and drought but not most. Perhaps we need to take a lesson from the tree and ponder if our speech is demanding, critical, harsh and belittling or are we building the other with our response and treating the person respectfully?
I love this quote from the internet, “According to the Arbor Day Foundation , in one year a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange. So next time you take a deep breath of air give credit to a tree or hug a tree in thanks for what it gives us – the very air we breathe.” A gentle answer sucks the carbon dioxide out of an argument and tries to give oxygen.
Let us pray today that our words will be like life-giving trees and not be tools to break someone’s spirit. Lord curb my tendency to mouth-in-motion and encourage heart-in-motion!