This picture made me laugh! It is not quite what a “chip on the shoulder” refers to but certainly brought the old saying to mind. It used to mean the practice of placing a wooden chip on the shoulder. It was done as a provocation to fight. The idea was to knock it off as a signal for the fight to begin. A feeling or conviction was so deeply held that to disagree meant that one would be challenged. Examples of this practice are seen in old British movies in the early twentieth century.
Today’s verse gives a different response to the one with a chip on his shoulder. Anger can be diffused with a gentle answer. To respond in any other way to an argumentative person would only serve to stoke the fire of his anger. Challenging his logic may very well fall into the category of “harsh words.” When emotions run high is not the time to reason with a belligerent person. However, it is always a good idea to calm the situation with a gentle soothing word.
It has been said that, “the best way to knock off the chip on your neighbor’s shoulder is to pat him on the back.” Soft gentle answers can help validate someone who feels they have been unfairly treated. The problem is that I want to be seen as right. It is my pride that makes it so difficult to respond with gentleness and not try and prove my point. I need His Spirit to keep me calm in the face of the one so angry if there is to be any “turning away of wrath”!
Lord, make my words soft and gentle today.