In today’s verse, Paul mentions how they always answer gently or kindly. The Passion Translation says, “When we are slandered incessantly, we always answer gently, ready to reconcile. Even now, in the world’s opinion, we are nothing but filth and the lowest scum” (1 Corinthians 4:13). In this passage, Paul is speaking about how they are treated poorly and how they responded. The Passion Translation mentions being “ready to reconcile,” a phrase that isn’t found in other translations. Even so, it is certainly a step toward reconciliation to answer gently when someone is insulting you. It’s leaving the door open for possible healing.
Today is a sad time. I find that people are more cruel because of social media and the internet in general. Now I have no stats to spew out figures. I only know that there were manners and kind words that were shared as I grew up. Yes, we joked around. Yes, not everyone was full of honey goodness. However, when I look at Facebook, it’s obvious the line has moved. People are more comfortable to say mean things, to specifically attack people or berate them for typos or differing opinions. I have seen this personally increase in the last five years. Even when asking a question with humility or offering help to someone asking for assistance, there is this continued spewing of cruelty. Whether you participate a lot or a little, or even if you do not have social media, you still are impacted. You engage with the people on social media in real life. It rubs off.
Sometimes we do not want to answer with kindness. People can be mean. People can cause us pain. In answering gently, we aren’t saying our pain doesn’t matter or that being disrespected is okay. Rather, we answer gently to keep the door open for reconciliation. The ultimate goal is for harmony. Our aim should be peace and love. Our prayer should be for wholeness for both ourselves and others. We want everyone to know Jesus, to have salvation through Him. Certainly there will be situations where you may be the victim of abuse. I am in no way condoning the abuse. In some cases, the answering gently response may simply mean not answering harshly. Whatever the situation may be, we can follow the old saying: “Don’t say anything if you can’t say something nice.”
Thank you Jesus for showing us what it means to answer gently. You were treated worse than anyone in history, and yet still You did not sin. Lord, help us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Lord, help us to not sin in our anger. May the Spirit guide our tongues to say sweet words that encourage and empower others. Use me today as a spreader of kindness in this not-so-kind world. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!