Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
Yesterday, while waking through a busy Walmart parking lot with my family, I witnessed something that reminded me of Proverbs 15:1. Cars were pulling in and out. People were walking in various directions. It was a bit chaotic.
A family was walking in the opposite direction to us as a car was turning into the lane. There wasn’t much room for cars and pedestrians. The car stopped. The passenger window lowered. I heard an angry voice. The father of the family coming toward us was surprised and stopped for a moment. A person in the vehicle was angrily talking to him.
The situation made me nervous. You never know what someone might impulsively do when they are angry, especially behind the wheel of a vehicle. Something tragic could easily happen given how many people were walking and how close the cars were to us.
To my great relief, the man walking kindly said to the person to the angry person in the car, “I am very sorry. I did not know. It wasn’t intentional.” He then continued to walk with his family. The driver slowly continued and calmly parked in the next open spot.
I have no idea why the driver was angry. Even the man he yelled at didn’t seem to know. I admired that man for softly answering, thereby turning away the other man’s wrath. Where some people would be ready for a fight and would have let some grievous words fly in reply, this man humbly apologized and moved along. It all happened in a matter of seconds. But it was refreshing to witness.
I’m posting this here as a reminder to myself. The following words from J. C. Ryle on Luke 4:33 – 44 grabbed me this morning.
First, the section of Luke about which Ryle writes:
Luke 4:33 – 44
33. And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,
34. Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee; thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.
35. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.
36. And they were all amazed, and spake among theselves, saying, What a word is this! For with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
37. And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.
38. And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her.
39. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her; and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
40. Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
41. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.
42. And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.
43. And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
44. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
We should notice, in this passage, the clear religious knowledge possessed by the devil and his agents. Twice in these verses we have proof of this. “I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God,” was the language of an unclean devil in one case – “Thou art Christ the son of God,” was the language of many devils in another. Yet this knowledge was a knowledge unaccompanied by faith, or hope, or charity. Those who possessed it were miserable fallen beings, full of bitter hatred both against God and man.
Let us beware of an unsanctified knowledge of Christianity. It is a dangerous possession, but a fearfully common one in these latter days. We may know the Bible intellectually, and have no doubt about the truth of its contents. We may have our memories well stored with its leading texts, and be able to talk glibly about its leading doctrines. And all this time the Bible may have no influence over our hearts, and wills, and consciences. We may, in reality, be nothing better than the devils.
Let it never content us to know religion with our heads only. We may go on all our lives saying, “I know that, and I know that,” and sink at last into hell, with the words upon our lips. Let us see that our knowledge bears fruit in our lives. Does our knowledge of sin make us hate it? Does our knowledge of Christ make us trust and love Him? Does our knowledge of God’s will make us strive to do it? Does our knowledge of the fruits of the Spirit make us labor to show them in our daily behavior? Knowledge of this kind is really profitable. Any other religious knowledge will only add to our condemnation at the last day.
– Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 1
– J. C. Ryle, 1858
Mourning Christian! Dry your tears! Are you weeping on account of sin? Why do you weep? Weep because of your sin, but weep not through fear of any punishment! Has the evil one told you that you shall be condemned? Tell him to his face that he lies! Ah, poor distressed believer, are you mourning over your own corruptions? Look to your perfect Lord, and remember – you are complete in Him – you are in God’s sight as perfect as if you had never sinned! No, more than that – the Lord our righteousness has put a divine garment upon you, so that you have more than the righteousness of man – you have the righteousness of God! Oh, you who are mourning by reason of in-bred sin and depravity – remember, none of your sins can condemn you! You have learned to hate sin; but you have learned to know that sin is not yours – it is put on Christ’s head. Come, be of good cheer – your standing is not in yourself – it is in Christ! Your acceptance is not in yourself, but in your Lord! With all your sin, you are as much accepted today as in your sanctification! You are as much accepted of God today, with all your iniquities, as you will be when you stand before His throne, rendered free from all corruption. Oh, I beseech you, lay hold on this precious thought – perfection in Christ – for you are perfect in Christ Jesus! With your Savior’s garment on, you are holy as the holy ones; you are now justified by faith; you have now peace with God. Be of good cheer. Do not fear to die! Death has nothing terrible in it for you. Christ has extracted all the gall from the sting of death. Tremble not at judgment – judgment will not bring you another acquittal to add to the acquittal already given in your cause –
“Bold shall you stand at that great day,
For who anything to your charge can lay?
Fully absolved by Christ you are,
From sin’s tremendous smart.”
Ah, when you come to die, you shall challenge God, for you shall say, “My God, You can not condemn me, for You have condemned Christ for me; You have punished Christ in my place!” “Who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died, yes, rather, who is risen again, who also sits at the right hand of God, and makes intercession for us.” Christian, be glad! Let your head lack no oil, and your face no ointment. “Go your way; eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has accepted your works.” Do as Solomon bids us do – live happily all the days of your life, for you are accepted in the beloved – you are pardoned through the blood, and justified through the righteousness of Christ! What have you to fear? Let your face always wear a smile; let your eyes sparkle with gladness. Live near your Master; live in the suburbs of the celestial city as, by-and-by, when your time has come you shall borrow better wings than angels ever wore, and outsoar the cherubim, and rise up where your Jesus sits – sit at His right hand, even as He has overcome, and has sat down at His Father’s right hand; and all this because the divine Lord, “was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
“Substitution,” Sermon 141 – 142, July 19, 1857, Charles Haddon Spurgeon