Close

May 31, 1994

Deflecting Anger

Share With Friends

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. PROVERBS 15:1
Gentleness is not a character trait our society holds in very high esteem. Instead,
the forceful personalities who face down any challenge and say exactly what’s on their minds are admired and looked to as role models. Can you remember the last gentle person who made the lead on the news?
Between our social conditioning and our human (read: sinful) nature, a gentle answer does not come easily. When we’re insulted or when someone becomes angry with us, our first reaction is heated indignation; the need to defend ourselves and save face roars louder than any other impulse. So anger provokes anger, which provokes more anger, and soon there’s an ugly scene that leaves both parties with a bitter taste in their mouths. The seeds of resentment that may take days, weeks, or even months or years to resolve.
A far better way, though not our natural way, is to respond to anger with a gentle answer. Dale Carnegie, author of the bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People, based much of his philosophy on this concept. The book is full of story after story of people who tried, just once, to see what would happen if they responded to an angry person with mild words. They were usually astonished at the results—the anger melted because the person had no momentum.
So how do we teach ourselves to come up with a gentle answer? We have a perfect role model in the person of Jesus Christ. Read through one of the Gospels and make a note of the time the Pharisees or the mockers or even one of the disciples becomes angry. Though there are notable and perfectly righteous exceptions, the vast majority of the time, Christ’s response is gentleness and compassion. Angry Pharisees put down their stones. Smug Sadducees become dumbfounded and walk away. People are amazed and praise God.
What results do your words produce?

Share With Friends