“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NKJV).
We live in an angry world. It seems each week we hear of another instance of this anger breaking loose and spilling onto an innocent bystander. We may have even witnessed angry outbursts or incidents of road rage by others. It’s never pretty.
Anger is a destructive emotion and is often directed at those nearest—family, fellow workers, or even brothers and sisters in Christ.
How do we respond when someone’s anger spills out on us? Does the Bible give us a good way to respond to anger in our lives?
Just listen. Ask yourself why the person is so angry. Is there some pain or feelings of inadequacy makes them respond this way? Try to discover the cause of their anger. James 1:19 admonishes, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (Christian Standard Bible).
Stay calm. It is so easy to answer anger with anger. Confront the problem, but don’t attack the person. We can respond with hostility, criticism, or sarcasm, but this will only worsen the situation. “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but one slow to anger calms strife” (Proverbs 15:18, CSB).
Pray. Pray for yourself. Pray for the other person. Remember, we cannot change someone else. Only God’s Spirit can do that. Turn it over to Him and let it become His problem. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28, CSB).
Forgive. Pray for the power to forgive. It is important to forgive, even if we are the innocent party and if the offender has not asked for forgiveness. “Bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive” (Colossians 3:13, CSB).
It is never fun to be the victim of someone’s anger, especially if it’s unprovoked. Yet, by basing our response to these and other verses of Scripture, we don’t allow the anger of another to control our emotions.
“Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble” (I Peter 3:8, CSB).
(Note: Although we should always respond in a Christ-like manner when confronted with anger, if we find ourselves in an unsafe situation, it is important to remove ourselves immediately.)
Prayer: Lord, help me to respond as You would when confronted with anger and harsh words. Keep my spirit calm and my words soft. Let all I do and say reflect Your love and mercy. Guard my heart against hatred and bitterness.