In Proverbs chapter 15, we see how powerful gentleness is.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1)
Gentleness can diffuse. It’s powerful.
Harshness is also powerful. It can ignite.
If the people are walking on eggshells when they are near you, that’s an indication that you are not placing your life under the lead of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. It shows your prayer life is sporadic or non-existent.
[I want to be clear to the Christians reading because I am concerned many people are living their lives in an unaccountable way, always being on the throne of their choice of emotions.]
The Bible’s wisdom gives the follower of Jesus no room for unnecessary roughness penalties against those in our daily lives. There is no room for angry outbursts. There is no room for profanity in anger. There is no room for belittling others. There is no room for resentment or bitterness.
How others see you and what is inside of you can be some ugly stuff when you don’t let the Spirit control you each day. God desires for us to be better than that.
Stupid people express their anger openly, but sensible people are patient and hold it back. (Proverbs 29:11)
Foolish people are rough on others. Wise people are gentle toward others.
Anger is something I’ve been tempted to give into most of my life. It’s easy for me to get angry. I’ve read a lot about it. We get angry toward two areas.
(1) Inanimate Objects
One area we get angry toward are inanimate objects.
We stub our foot on the sofa and we go, Stupid ,sofa!
Our computer crashes and we go, Stupid computer!
We slice a golf ball into the woods and we go, Stupid 6 iron!
We actually yell at inanimate objects. We call thing not breathing, stupid.
Who’s really the stupid one?
The other area we get angry toward are:
(2) People We View as Less-Than
Southern comedian named Bill Engvall, had a schtick about being mad at stupid people. Maybe you remember it, Here’s your sign: (and the sign reads: Stupid).
Engvall speaks of a semi truck driver getting stuck trying to make it under an overpass and a police officer pulled up next to the incident and said to the truck driver: What, did you get stuck?
And the truck driver said, Nope. Not at all. I was trying to deliver this bridge and I ran out of gas.
Here’s your sign.
We get frustrated at people who we view as less-than. We think they’re not as smart, not as successful, not as put together, not as great as we are.
We walk into a room and automatically think we are the best person in that room. This makes everyone around us easy targets to get angry toward.
Stupid things and people we view as less-than us make us angry.
What you’ll rarely hear come out of the mouth of a person who is angry is this:
I make me so mad!!!!
An angry person never is rough on themselves. They are always mad at something or someone else. Always blaming and shifting focus off their short-comings. It enables them in their mindset to be harsh on others.
But the statement, I make me so mad!!! ends up becoming true. If you give into anger, all it leads to is more anger. You do make yourself so mad.
It’s not the inanimate objects fault you are rough. It’s not a bad driver on the road or an annoying co-worker, or the poor results of your performance or the unmet expectations of your children.
It’s not a thing and it’s not someone else.
Upon further review: You make you mad.
You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight. (James 1:19)
Those who pause and pray and don’t react right away, those are also the people who don’t get angry. Slow to speak is slow to anger. That kind of restraint comes from relying on the Spirit.
I’m coaching a U10 girls soccer team this Fall. The soccer field is huge and the players are running around for 50 minutes, giving it their all.
After the game, as we debrief and I am telling them how proud I am of them, it’s snack time. They get some fruit. They get a treat. And they get a drink.
The drink they get every Saturday seems to be a Capri Sun.
Capri Suns are a German product named after the Italian island, Capri. They are difficult to open, difficult to puncture a straw through.
What kids don’t get about Capri Suns is that you shouldn’t squeeze them. You can just drink the juice through the straw. But every kid in the history of holding a Capri Sun has to squeeze them.
What is in the pouch, comes out when you squeeze. Juice all over your shirt. All over the backseat of my car.
You and I are just like Capri Suns.
Whatever is on the inside of us, when a little life-pressure is applied, whatever is inside is going to come out of us.
If it’s all of the things the Spirit of God gives us, (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness) when we get squeezed, that’s what comes out toward others.
If we’ve got unresolved tension or bitterness or impatience or rage inside of us, when life hits a bump, guess what gets spilled all over the people near us?
We get so filled up inside with past hurt, with sad memories, with failure, with insecurity and disappointment, (add to that an overloaded schedule and the pain that happens to us at times, we are doing so much and going through so much) any time anything or anyone jostles us a bit, what’s inside squirts out and people around us get hurt.
The other day I was in a fast food drive through with my children. One of my kids noticed the car in front of us, mom in front seat, small girl in back seat. The girl in the back was picking her nose. She was on a mission. She was digging deeply.
Both of my kids start to giggle uncontrollably. Even I was drawn to binge-watch what was going on.
I used it as a teaching moment to tell them that someone is always watching us, whether we realize it or not (that little girl digging deep didn’t realize we were watching her).
Someone is watching when we are frustrated at a waitress, or a grocery store clerk.
Someone is watching when we’re mad at a referee at a game.
Someone is watching when a child is unfairly treated on the bus or on the playground.
Someone is watching how you interact with coworkers or neighbors or customers.
The kids at home are watching when mom and dad get into it.
We are always on display.
I don’t want the pressure of life to make my angry obvious to those around me. I want gentleness to be a characteristic that others notice.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. (Philippians 4:4-5)
If I can’t have my gentleness be evident to all, I at least want it to be evident to my family. I want the word gentleness to be some of the first words they use when they describe me at my funeral.
To help with that, I am committed to not let any of the stress of my day or the feelings of tough circumstances enter into my home.
I’ve done this for years wherever we have lived and recommend it to anyone, no matter how silly it feels. It works.
There’s a nail I have nailed in the mortar of the brick wall of our home.
It’s a small nail, above our doorbell on the right side of our front door. You can barely see it, and that’s the point.
No matter when I get home from a long day, or what stress or frustration I feel for how things are going, or how exhausted I am, I sit in my vehicle parked in the driveway for a few moments, pray for any of that hardship or negativity to not enter the home with me.
I get out of the car and hang all of that emotional weight onto the nail.
It’s an imaginary necklace I take off my neck and hang it onto the real nail. I physically do this action.
Then I go inside a refreshed, fun, present, patient, gentle husband and father.
It’s not just on stressful days or disappointing days – I don’t just hang those up, I hang my imaginary anger sword on the nail too. I don’t want to come into my home with any harshness. I don’t want to bring fear. I don’t want to bring intimidation.
And guess what? When I wake up the next day, after I kiss my wife and am thankful for her, kiss our daughters and instill encouragement in them, when I head out for the day, guess what is waiting for me on that nail?
The stress and my sword to go forward and tackle the day with the Lord.
You don’t have to do this, but believe it’s shaping my family from seeing me as someone angry and exhausted and impatient to someone who is gentle.
Over time, it could be the difference between someone seeing you as harsh and someone seeing you as gentle.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. (Philippians 4:4-5)
Thanks for reading. You are loved.