Solomon said, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1). In a country whose conversations seem to be harsher than in the past, it is good to be reminded that a “soft answer” can get people just as far, if not farther, at times than screaming or demanding to be heard. In another proverb, we learn, “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone” (Prov. 25:15). R.A. Torrey says this means, “soft and conciliating language will often accomplish the most difficult things” (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge). How true! Were we aware of these proverbs?
Two (of many) that embody these proverbs are Abigail (I Sam. 25) and Esther (Est. 7). Neither woman led armies into battle, nor did they stage protests, strikes, and the like. They were not warriors in the “conventional” sense of the word. Yet, by their wisdom, their soft answers, and wise reasoning, they persuaded kings to do their will!
Abigail’s wisdom calmed the anger of King David and saved her family from his wrath when her husband acted foolishly (I Sam. 25:21-33). Esther’s wisdom saved not only her life but the entire nation of the Jews (Est. 7:3-8:17)! How did she do it? Remember, Esther had approached the king uninvited (Est. 5:1-3), and when the king asked what she wanted, she invited her husband to two parties (Est. 5:4-8, 7:1-2). She understood the adage, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” By inviting him to these parties and making him feel welcome, she then knew she was in a position to make her request, and he listened (Est. 7:3-4).
Please do not misunderstand. A “soft answer” can still be firm and have conviction. Read Esther 7:4-6 and discover a soft, yet firm answer to Xerxes that is filled with conviction. We do not compromise with sin and error when answering in this manner. If we do, it is no longer a “soft answer,” but a “wrong answer!”
Does this mean that there is no time when fighting for what one believes in is necessary? Of course, not (I Tim. 6:12)! There is a very great need for fighting against Satan and the false doctrines of men (Eph. 6:13-18; I Tim. 4:6-9). At the same time, it is the wise person who understands when to fight hard and when to use the “soft answer.” Let us pray for that wisdom and use it!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
After Haman got his law passed that called for the extinction of the Jews, the Bible tells us that he and Ahasuerus “sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed” (Est. 3:15). The word “perplexed” in that verse means to be confused (Brown, Driver, Briggs). In simple terms, those in Shushan stood in confusion at this law that was now in effect.
Though his name isn’t mentioned in this book, this is the work of Satan. He tempted Haman, and now, because of his anger and jealousy, Haman bribed the king to write a law that would destroy a nation of people (3:9-12). Indeed, Satan tried his best to stir confusion and mayhem throughout the kingdom of Persia. He succeeded! In contrast, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (I Cor. 14:33). God doesn’t stir up strife and hardship. He wants us to be at peace, love one another, and be united. Satan wants confusion. He’s our adversary and looks for souls to devour (I Pet. 5:8). He certainly had a great opportunity in Shushan!
Understanding, peace, impartiality, mercy, and wisdom are the attributes of God and the “wisdom from above” (Jas. 3:17-18). Conversely, “where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (Jas. 3:16). Haman’s actions reflect the wisdom from below, not from above. As a result, Shushan’s population was confused.
Which do you prefer, confusion, or a peaceful life? Do we need to ask? Man’s confusion comes from sin. Clarity comes from God’s word (Jn. 8:31-32). For this reason, let’s follow the example of the Lord, not Haman (I Pet. 2:21-22).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Ephesians 4:4-6
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” When writing to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul reminded the Christians to “keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). In this letter, he did not merely tell them to be united, but by inspiration (I Cor. 14:37), he showed them (and us) the true “platform for unity” in the Lord’s church. If we are to be united, we need to respect the seven “one’s” (body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, and God) that needs to be among God’s people. These simple words are packed with meaning and truth that deserve more attention than we can devote in this short article. Just understand that when we remember the basis or foundation of religious unity, we will be able to withstand anything that Satan will throw at us! Satan tries to “divide and conquer” in order to get us away from Christ and devour us (I Pet. 5:8). Yet, in Christ, we have unity (Gal. 3:28) and victory (I Cor. 15:57)! Let us be active and fulfill Ephesians 4:3 by living Ephesians 4:4-6!
– Jarrod Jacobs
What Does The Empty Tomb Mean To Us?
Almost 2000 years ago, Jesus was crucified between two thieves. When He died, His body was laid in a new tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea (Mk. 15:43-47), there to await His resurrection on the third day. The account of the women and the apostles finding Jesus’ tomb empty is found in Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-10.
The empty tomb means something to Christians. It is important and has great value to all those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. What does the empty tomb mean?
The empty tomb means that death is conquered! Jesus became the “firstfruits of them that slept” (I Cor. 15:20). Colossians 1:18 declares that Christ’s resurrection gives Him the preeminence in all things. Hebrews 2:9 shows us that Christ tasted death for every man. Therefore, Christians have nothing to fear in death.
In writing on the subject of death and the resurrection of all mankind, Paul said, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:54-57). Why not look into the tomb, and see the victory that Christ has given to all since He arose from the dead?
The empty tomb means salvation for all! Before Christ, Jewish people were considered the chosen nation, and they labored to keep the Old Testament (Mosaic) Law. They offered animal sacrifices to atone for their sins, but this was not enough (Heb. 10:1-4). Seeing that Jesus gave His life, shed His blood, and arose from the dead, He offers salvation to everyone (Matt. 11:28-30). In Mark 16:15, Jesus instructed His apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” In Colossians 1:5-6, 23, we read that this command was carried out! Paul declared that “every creature which is under heaven” heard the gospel. Jesus wanted no one to be ignorant of His will, and neither should we.
The empty tomb means Jesus told the truth! Throughout Jesus’ preaching, He prophesied of His death, burial, and resurrection, and that He is the Son of God. A few passages that declare this are: Matthew 12:38-40; Matthew 16:21; John 8:24, 58-59; John 10:30-36; and John 18:36-37. That empty tomb tells mankind that the Son of God walked this earth, told us the truth about all things, that He loves us and wants to save us!
If we can believe that Jesus told us the truth on these things, why do we not believe Him on the other things He teaches in His word? There has been much dispute over certain parts of the Bible for many years. Obviously, Jesus did not teach two or more conflicting doctrines, but spoke the Truth consistently. Knowing this and knowing that He told us the truth about His death, burial, and resurrection; why do we not believe His teachings on other subjects? Why do we not do the things He requires?
Friend, the stone wasn’t rolled back so Jesus could escape. It was rolled back so we could look in! Have you looked with the eye of faith into that empty tomb? I pray that we might all come to a better understanding of what the empty tomb means.
Shoplifting A Bible
It came to my attention a while back that the most shoplifted book in the world is the Bible! Whether this is true or an “urban myth,” just think of the irony of a Bible being stolen!
It is ironic because there are many Bible passages which tell us not to steal (Ex. 20:15; Lev. 19:11, 13; Deut. 5:19; Eph. 4:28). Imagine someone stealing something that plainly states, “don’t steal.” Too, we are told in this same book that someone who is guilty of stealing will be lost in Hell (I Cor. 6:10)!
How ironic that a book saying, “don’t steal, and if you do, you endanger your eternal soul,” is stolen so frequently! Yet, this got me to thinking about human nature in general. Is it not true that often, the very things we are told not to do are the things we do?
From the beginning, man has been tempted by Satan to contradict the will of God (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:1-6). Sadly, man contradicts God’s will more than he obeys it (Rom. 3:23; Ecc. 7:29). Yet, this is not because he has no choice. In fact, it is the opposite (Jas. 1:14-15)! Due to man’s free moral agency, he has often chosen to turn from God’s will and walk in his own selfish way.
In addition to not stealing, we are also told throughout Scripture:
- Do not murder (Ex. 20:13; Rom. 13:9; I Jn. 3:15; Rev. 21:8)
- Do not lie (Ex. 20:16; Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25; Rev. 21:8)
- Do not lust after others (Matt. 5:28; Job 31:1; II Pet. 2:14-15)
- Do not be lazy (II Thess. 3:10; Prov. 24:30-34)
- Worship God only (Matt. 4:10; Jn. 4:24)
- Be baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38, 8:35-38, 10:48)
- Live faithfully (II Tim. 4:6-8; Rev. 2:10; I Cor. 15:58)
- Treat others kindly (Eph. 4:32; I Cor. 13:4; Matt. 7:12; II Pet. 1:17)
- Love God (Matt. 22:37; I Jn. 5:2-3)
- Love our neighbors (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39; Jas. 2:8; Gal. 5:14; Rom. 13:9)
This is just a partial list! In observing the items on our list, can we not also think of folks (perhaps us) who blatantly contradict these commands, too? Why are we surprised, then, when we read of someone (or many people) shoplifting a Bible?
Some might reason, “If a person stole a Bible, it might turn out good because he might then read that Bible and learn the truth.” The response that comes to my mind is the apostle Paul’s statement where he denied the doctrine of: “Let us do evil, that good may come” (Rom. 3:8). He said it was “slanderously reported” that they taught a doctrine that has come to be known as “situation ethics”. So also today, we do not justify a wicked act by trying to find some supposed “good” that can come from it.
More can be said about this, but the point is that we as God’s creatures have to decide to do what is right, and then continue daily to decide to do what is right (Jas. 1:27; Matt. 7:13-14; Lk. 9:23; Rev. 2:10; etc.). When we decide that we will not do what the Lord says, in spite of His clear statements in the Bible, then we are setting ourselves up for spiritual ruin and an eternity in a devil’s Hell. Should the Bible be the most shoplifted book, then let man repent of this sin (as well as all others) and live for the Lord while we still have the time and opportunity to do so (II Cor. 6:2).