|“A person finds joy in giving an apt |
reply—and how good is a timely word!”
We don’t see the word “apt” in print much these days. Nor can I remember the last time I heard someone use the word “apt” in normal conversation. Yet, this little three-letter word expresses a very powerful idea.
The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary website defines the word “apt” as “unusually fitted or qualified; suited to the purpose; keenly intelligent and responsive.” Wow! Who knew that three letters could pack such decisive power?
In an age where we seldom take our communications seriously, responding in an “apt” manner would mean that what we had to write or say contained a well-reasoned statement that would offer a clear, concise, and definitive answer to whatever question someone had asked us. This is exactly what King Solomon had in mind when he wrote these words found in Proverbs 15:23:
A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!
There definitely is a certain satisfaction in knowing that we had given a questioner an apt answer. It shows we care about the person asking. It illustrates that we take such a question seriously enough to give an appropriately reasoned response.
I recently had a very troubling experience where I clearly failed to give an apt reply. Someone who attended a Christian Education class I was teaching wrote me an email to disagree with something I had said in class. The individual put the thrust of the disagreement in the form of a question. My Concrete-Sequential Mind Style totally ignored the underlying message in this email. I took the question seriously without realizing that the person simply wanted me to acknowledge the person’s right to disagree.
Instead of giving a short acknowledgement that expressed appreciation for the email, I proceeded to write a very lengthy six-page answer to the question. The fact that I did so with the sincere intent of trying to be genuinely helpful still totally missed the under-the-surface needs of the writer. As a result, this person has given me the cold shoulder ever since.
I hope that I have learned from this experience. My first response to any such communications in the future will be a very short acknowledgement and an invitation to discuss the subject further, should the writer so desire. I have seen the light. I know now, more than ever before, the need to always give an apt reply.
As we encounter people who cross our pathway this day—in our roles as ambassadors for God’s Kingdom—let’s determine to give apt replies to every question. Let’s make certain we understand what the person is really asking. Let’s do our best to meet the person’s needs, even if those needs lie beneath the surface of what may seem to be a simple question.
If we do this, I am quite sure we will experience the kind of joy that King Solomon talks about in the verse above.