An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.
Yesterday we explored some Hebrew words and we touched on some consequences of uncontrolled anger.
Today, let's look at wise ways to handle our anger.
Remember this verse from earlier in chapter 29?
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise person keeps himself under control. Proverbs 29:11Solomon didn't tell us, "a wise person never gets mad" but that a wise person will keep himself or herself under control. Hmmm, kinda like that vent, right? Open it slowly, gradually. This is our first clue on handling anger wisely -- to vent it without exploding!
I have six ways that we can try -- some may work better than others for each particular person, and some are absolutely essential . . . let's get started.
1. Talk it out or write it out: Possibly the most important way to deal with anger is to talk about it, but without hurting anyone else with our words. Remember yesterday that we mentioned sometimes we get mad when we feel hurt, or helpless. If we can express those feelings, the anger will decline. As the hurt and helpless feelings become less intense, our anger will subside as well. So, if you can talk about your feelings with someone that you trust, that will help. Writing down what we’re thinking might help if there’s no one to talk to about it.
2. Forgive: The second aspect of handling anger wisely is to exercise forgiveness. It's kinda like a muscle; when you exercise it it gets stronger! I know that sounds a lot easier just to say it casually then to actually do it, but following Christ means learning to be like Him, and express forgiveness. If we find ourselves dwelling over and over again on an offense against us, resentment will turn us into angry, bitter people.
3. Take ownership: Third, we need to take ownership of our own role in the problem. We need to search for areas where we went wrong, and find forgiveness ourselves, through repentance. It's not often that we get hurt, and we've not contributed in some way to the problem. We need to take ownership to vent our anger slowly.
4. A gentle word: Remember Proverbs 15:1? "A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger." The word "gentle" means "soft" and "calm." When we get mad, our words turn harsh. Sometimes we overstate the situation and use words like "always" and "never" even though we know they are not correct. Sometimes we use sarcasm. So this proverb says to use a gentle answer. Now, that doesn't mean that we are going to tell the other person what they want to hear -- it means that what we do say, is in a soft tone and content. No sarcasm, just sincerity, caring and gentleness.
5. Patience: In that same chapter, we find: Proverbs 15:18--"A hot tempered person stirs up dissension, but a patient person calms a quarrel." Sometimes it may take more than one gentle word! It may take time to de-fuse a situation, and we need patience to deal with that. Now, patience is not resigning yourself to something and being a martyr. It's a positive attitude of active endurance, of bearing up under difficult circumstances. You could translate the New Testament word for "patience" as staying power.
6. Choose your battles: We shouldn't avoid conflict at all costs, but there are some conflicts we should use wisdom and avoid. There are certain situations in life when it is simply best to avoid an argument. We've learned in earlier chapters in Proverbs, that this is especially true when a person is not open to correction.
I hope that this two-part study has been a help to someone who reads it . . . I know that I learned a lot from it myself!