How I came to understand Proverb 15:1

The next step in effectively teaching your child a Proverb is to make sure they understand it. Having verses memorized is great. But if they don’t know what they mean, then it’s pointless. So, what does this Proverb mean?

Proverbs 15:1 reminds us of a universal human truth. It’s a truth that is vital for healthy relationships. The things that we do and say – and the way we say them – has a huge impact on the way others interact with and relate to us. If someone yells at us, we want to yell back. And if someone is kind, then we naturally want to repay that kindness with more kindness. Though Jesus taught us to treat others the way that we want to be treated, our more natural inclinations lead us to treat people the way they’ve treated us. But Solomon calls us to resist our natural response here. Like Jesus, he encourages us to stamp out anger and hostility before it can get burning. And he does this by reminding us that we can defuse volatile situations through gentleness and love. If we fight verbal fire with verbal fire, will end up burning all our lives down. As you read this with your child, ask them how it feels to have someone get angry with them. Ask them what they want to do if someone yells at them or calls them a name. Then, you can have them imagine what would happen if they responded with anger versus gentleness. Would yelling back put an end to the problems? Would coming up with a worse insult calm things down? Or, might being silent or even actively showing love be a better approach? Think through the potential results of both approaches with your child. And if you can use an example from your own life to illustrate either point, it can be a great way to reinforce the practical nature of the Proverbs.

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