A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury. (NLT)
I don’t recall receiving any secret gifts, or any bribes for that matter. I have been asked to pay bribes, the last time when going through passport control in a certain African country. The request for payment was not to pacify anger, but to smooth my way through immigration when I had already paid the official fee. But when should gifts be made to placate an angry person? The Bible provides some examples, although those I can think of were not made in secret.
There is the example of Jacob returning home with his family and flocks. Having cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright many years before Jacob was somewhat apprehensive about the sort of greeting Esau might have in mind when Jacob arrived on the doorstep. In fact, Esau had sworn to kill Jacob after their father died (Genesis 27:41). So Jacob sent flocks and herds ahead as a gift for his brother. As it happened Esau had already put the past behind him and had more than plenty. He was genuinely pleased to see his brother again, and to discover that God had blessed him.
Then there was the time that David sent his men to Nabal, the local rich man, to ask for food and water. Nabal read David’s men their fortune and told them to take a hike. When they returned to David he blew a fuse, and together with 400 armed men headed back to find Nabal and read him his fortune. While Nabal was a fool, he was married to a smart lady by the name of Abigail. She took charge of the situation, and headed off to meet David with more than enough supplies to feed David and his men (1 Samuel 25).
This proverb and the two examples from Scripture indicate that there may be times when gifts need to be made, and not only in secret. While there are times when a gift may correct a wrong, God’s people are encouraged to be generous. There should be occasions in all of our lives when a gift should be made for no other reason than to bring joy to another human being.
There is a gift that should be made in secret. It is the gift of our time when we choose to find a quiet place at the start of the day to surrender ourselves completely before God. We do so knowing that God’s anger at our failings was pacified when Jesus gave His life as the perfect gift. Such a perfect gift requires only one response. How do you express your gratitude?
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)