The Scriptures declare that "a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." After considerable experience in dealing with the general public, as well as with private individuals, I have come to the conclusion that only what we gain by kindness can really be accomplished; that what cannot be accomplished by kindness cannot be accomplished at all. Only that which appears honest, sincere, and kind to our opponents, their friends and supporters, is really effectual. Honesty enables one to win and hold the confidence of those with whom he comes in contact and enhances his usefulness in the world, while dishonesty or treachery causes one to lose the confidence of his fellow-men, and while society may tolerate him to an extent, it holds him off at arm's length.

"Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." An effort which is not based upon Principle brings forth no real results; that which is not rightly done is not done at all, as time always proves. It is like a blundering effort to solve a problem, for in addition to its worthlessness is the fact that it necessitates the labor of undoing. In our effort to give a "soft answer" we must always regard the matter under consideration from the view-point of those for whose benefit the answer is made, since a word which might be acceptable to one might be a matter of irritation to another. Therefore a "soft answer" is that particular statement which, in view of existing circumstances, may lift thought and shed some light, without stirring up wrath. Otherwise silence is about the only answer that meets the demands of the situation.

An overzealous or unwise Christian Scientist may by hasty words on a witness-stand, or in the presence of a newspaper reporter, stir up more wrath in a single hour than a Publication Committee in his vicinity could put down in a year. There is no reason why a Christian Scientist should commit himself unwisely, simply because in some manner he is invited or provoked to do so. It is no breach of courtesy to refuse to answer an improper question, and especially if no good is to be gained thereby. Our Lord knew the danger of wasting time and words in the effort to teach those who are not prepared for instruction, hence his declaration: "Neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." If we throw diamonds at an infuriated animal, he simply thinks we are throwing stones at him and his rage is increased. It is better to save the diamonds, gently toss him an ear of corn, and let him lose bad temper while he eats, thus leaving him for the time to have only what he appreciates and to quiet himself in his own satisfaction. We may vary our treatment, as those with whom we must deal become changed in receptivity, but to put forth any and every thing that misguided impulse may demand, does no good and often results in ill to all concerned.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

September 7, 1907

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.