Dealing with anger in your own life is challenging. But, what about dealing with other people’s anger? What counsel do we glean from God’s Word on how to respond in heated moments?
Prepare Your Heart
We must prepare ourselves for dealing with angry people.
1. Commit to do good to others (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
You never know when you will face an angry person. But when you do, you will be tempted to respond in kind. We must commit to not repaying anyone evil for evil, but that we will always seek to do good to others no matter what they do. Jesus says that we must love them, do good to them, bless them and pray for them (Luke 6:27-28).
2. Resolve to be a peacemaker (Hebrews 12:14).
Having received the peace of God in your own heart, bring peace to others. By God’s grace, resolve to be one who makes peace between people and one who spreads the good news of the peace of God made possible through Christ. We must make every effort for peace. We must pursue it like a dog after his bone. We know that not all situations will turn toward peace, but “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). We don’t say things like, “The next time they speak to me that way, I’m going to let them have it.”
3. Have a redemptive mindset (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
We must see every situation as an opportunity for the Gospel. We must have compassion for the person. We must think, “I want to love this person to the Cross.”
4. Consider the joy of dealing with angry people (James 1:2-4).
Yep, you read correctly … consider the joy of dealing with angry people. I can count facing an angry person a joy because of what it produces. You can count it joy when you want what it gives you. We push through painful workouts because of the joy of success or results. Jesus, for the joy set before Him endured the cross.
Do we want what trial of dealing with an angry person produces? Do we want steadfastness? Do we want to become more like Christ? Do we want to grow spiritually? Do we want the assurance of our adoption into God’s family? If we do we will see our interaction with angry people as a joy, both as an opportunity for the Gospel and an opportunity for practicing godliness, becoming more like Christ.
We must prepare for those moments. And when those moments occur we will have to practice self-control.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). You will be tempted to go toe-to-toe and tit-for-tat with someone in the heat of the moment. You will be tempted to defend yourself. You will be tempted to use harsh words
The word for “harsh” relates to physical pain or emotional sorrow. It is the idea of using words to hurt people. The outcome is that tempers flare. Do we really expect the anger to die down by responding harshly?
In contrast, “a soft answer turns away wrath.” The word for “turns away” is the word used to mean repentance. The idea here is that the wrath of an individual would make a u-turn—turning toward peace. What is the method for bringing this about? … “A soft answer.”
A “soft answer” doesn’t necessarily mean a quiet answer. It means we respond with a peaceful, gentle, kind, loving and tender response. Will this always work? … No. But, this is the God-honoring, Christ-like method for turning away wrath. This is how we help others cool down. Tender words in the heat of the moment are the words of a selfless person. They are the words of someone who loves God and others.
Pay Attention to What They Are Saying
Sometimes we don’t listen, because the other person is speaking to us in sinful anger. We are more concerned about how we are being attacked and less concerned about what they are saying.
In self-denial and love for God and others, we listen to what others are saying even if they are saying it sinfully. We seek to understand them. We show them we care about what they are saying by listening and responding tenderly, making certain we understand what they are saying.
Pinpoint Your Part
While you are listening examine yourself and pinpoint any part you may have played in sinning against the angry person.
Because we love ourselves we tend to magnify the sin of another and minimize our own. And when someone is displaying sinful anger we are zeroed in on what they are doing without noticing our sin (Matthew 7:3-5). Think about a school playground incident. A child comes to the teacher crying. They begin to explain what happened. Typically they magnify with great passion and expression what the other child did. When asked what they did there is very little passion and little to no expression. They use very few words.
In the heat of the moment, we must think humbly, considering others as more important and looking out for their interests. We must pinpoint our part and if we have sinned against them then confess and ask their forgiveness.
Persist in Showing Love
Part of our love for one another entails bearing with one another. In those heated moments we are called to trust and depend on God to strengthen us to do what is right. God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
We would rather these moments go away. Like Paul, we plead with God to remove these situations from us. We turn to defensive tactics. We turn to striking back. But let’s remember: in the midst of trying circumstances, God wants us to know that He provides what we need to love the person and glorify Him.
Entrust yourself to God and determine by His grace to love the person more than yourself. Let us use God’s methods for dealing with angry people and trust Him for the results.
Join the Conversation
How could these principles assist you as you respond to an angry person? What additional biblical insight would you add regarding responding to an angry person?