How Words Can Hinder Repentance and What to Do About It

“It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. So why do I think harshness will lead my kids/husband/friend/co-worker to repentance? My tone either can hinder or encourage repentance. Which tone will I choose?”

Those words flitted across my heart and I knew. . . I was guilty. . . Guilty of tonal offense.

Tonal offense is when my words alone are well chosen, but they sound like words of death. They come from a burning heart – one injured or frustrated or angry. Sarcasm drips acid, frustration splashes scalding water, and all the words burn.

The burning words fly from my mouth as soda flies from a shaken can. They hit their mark burning and searing the hearer, but the burning doesn’t bring about the response I desire.

Instead of bringing contrition, humility, and repentance in the hearer, the burning words beget anger, bitterness, and pride.

Romans 2:4b reminds us, “…the kindness of God leads you to repentance…” Since God uses kindness to lead me to repentance then why do I believe harsh words will lead others to repentance for offenses that hurt me?

And the truth sinks in deeper. . .

“A soft answer will turn away wrath,
but a word of trouble will stir anger.” Proverbs 15:1

Isn’t God kind to lead me to repentance? Am I perfect? NO! Tonal offense still rears its ugly head, but there is grace. I repent to God and the hearer now that I am more aware of this issue in my life. And the Holy Spirit is there to remind me, guide me, and empower me to give soft answers.

Kindness, grace, repentance, and me