A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 Timothy 2:24–25
The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness.
I have a personal list of three sermons I have heard over the past 40 years that have stayed with me. One day at Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, IL, the assigned preacher for daily chapel did not show up. After a rather long wait and an extra hymn verse or two, Dr. Henry Eggold strode in. His long legs propelling him to the chancel and then the pulpit. Without notes, and only a Bible, he preached on Romans 5, and reminded us that even in the midst of suffering we rejoice, because God is working good things in us: endurance, patience, and hope. God spoke to me that day, through a man who was humble, sincere, and prepared at a moment’s notice to share the gospel.
Another day in Kramer Chapel in Fort Wayne, Indiana, following a previous verbal missile launching between two professors, Dr. Gerhard Aho, preached on 1 Corinthians 12. His theme, “Every Christian Counts” still rings in my ears – oil on the waters of discord that said what we all need to hear.
At a national leadership conference in South Barrington, Illinois, Pastor John Ortberg had us all write words from Isaiah 43, “You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you.” He then proceeded to help us apply these words from God to ourselves in his own understated, quiet, thoughtful, and kind way.
These were not loud and bombastic preachers or sermons. They were the kind, soft, gentle, and patient. The message of Jesus’ love is framed by loud shouts of, “Crucify!” It is celebrated in expressions of joy and victory: “Alleluia!” But the still small voice of the Holy Spirit takes residence in the quietness of our hearts and turns away God’s wrath and turns our bitterness to sweet love and graceful peace.