Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
Very few would be quick to admit that they love confrontation. Yet, in this life, we cannot escape it. We are confronted with paying for things we desire, moving out of the way of another, and more directly for what we believe.
How we respond in those times of confrontation reveals our character.
We are admonished by the writer of Proverbs to respond softly to those who angrily oppose and confront us. But, unless it is decided beforehand, we take the chance that our flesh will rise faster than our soft answer.
Proverbs 14:29 “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”
When we are confronted, it usually involves an attack on our character or actions that have offended someone. Most common is the angry response to someone who we cut off in traffic or when we are the one cut off.
The flesh rises quickly, wanting to respond. I have seen many an incident of road rage that has ended badly.
Proverbs 15:18 “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”
So, how do we become “slow to anger” or “slow to wrath”?
James 1:19-20 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
In the hearing, we can discern the root cause for their response. Why is this person angry with us? What caused them to lash out at us? How should we respond to diffuse the situation? What can I say to be able to discuss this calmly?
All are good things to consider, but in the heat of the moment, or instantly put on the defensive, we must have our wits about not responding quickly.
If we exercise the self-control needed to diffuse the situation, we can often help others do likewise.
A man at my work would often yell at his coworkers. His voice alone made them cringe and shrink from responding. It seemed his job was to bark orders to all around him. No one felt close to him. No one dared question him, and when I did, everyone stepped back.
Mine was a simple request for clarification on his order barked at a loud volume. He turned and yelled, “What don’t you understand?” I stated my case in a soft voice, humbly asking for his reasoning for doing something a certain way.
Long story short, our conversation de-escalated into an actual discussion sharing ideas on approaching a job more efficiently. Over time, that person became a good leader, realizing he had someone willing to open up and work through problems together.
He and I became friends and worked for many years at the same company and had opportunities to share the gospel with him.
We are all in the same human condition trying to deal with what is dealt to us every day.
1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
When I can point to the Christ who helps me through each and every problem I face, I can show that they too can receive help if they but ask.
Should we decide to respond in kind to those who confront us with anger and wrath, we close the door of opportunity to revealing God to them.
God calms us.
God gives wisdom for how to respond.
God calms their heart to receive what we give once they can receive it.
If we fail to involve God at the outset, we risk losing an opportunity to minister and witness for our Savior.
Beginning the day with God and seeking Him throughout our day keeps close contact with the One who can control that which we cannot.
Allow this day to be different. Give God your hurt, your wounds, your prejudices, and your preferences. Give Him your voice to respond as He would when confronted.
You will be surprised at the difference God makes when He is given control!