We continue from Part 1 talking about handling personal conflict—what a question that is! So how do you defuse the emotional bomb, called anger and the conflict you have, once you sense the countdown has begun? The power of Jesus Christ is the answer—he is the only one who can control your emotions and channel them in the right direction.
Paul said in Philippians 4:13 (CEV), “Christ gives me the strength to face everything”. It is also crucial to remember that anger is not intrinsically wrong because Jesus became angry on occasions as we read in Matthew 21:12-17. He was angry over an issue of misuse of the Temple premises.
A key principle for handling anger is found in Ephesians 4:26-27 – NASB: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Have you ever gone to bed at night with an argument unsettled? How did you feel the next morning? More than likely, the sensation of weight on your heart had grown, and you might have felt physically ill.
Your own health and wellbeing are not the only reasons for quick resolution; the deeper principle at work is one of avoiding bitterness. When a hurt is not addressed, it works its way down into your inmost parts. Bitterness is a lack of forgiveness multiplied many times over, taking root and spreading into every segment of life.
Dealing with Anger
1) Don’t be concerned about making yourself heard. Be a good listener first. You cannot hope to defuse the intensity of both sets of emotions until you can calmly listen to the other person’s point of view.
James 1:19-20 (CEV) says, “You should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done.” This is the biblical principle of ‘counting to ten’ before you speak. Of course, the Lord wants you to do far more than engage in an empty, mental exercise. He wants you to pray, think about what Scripture applies to the situation, and ask him to demonstrate his love to the other person in spite of your confused and uptight feelings.
2) Be truthful, as much as is loving under the circumstances, and don’t seek to avoid the heart of the matter. It is always better to deal with the issue directly, rather than sidestepping or burying it.
Colossians 3:9 (CEV) explains the reason why you should speak honestly: “Stop lying to each other. You have given up your old way of life with its habits.”
3) Speak in love with words that build up the other person. The classic problem most people experience is that the very moment when gracious words are most required is also the moment that kindness is the most difficult. Again, the grace of the Lord must operate through you, and you can prepare to let him work in advance of an argument.
Ephesians 4:29 (CEV) says, “Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.” A basic characteristic of Jesus’ approach was his compassion for others: his concern was to alleviate suffering and meet the needs of people.
When Jesus first met others, he accepted them as they were. In other words, he believed in them and what they would become. The characteristic of acceptance is seen in John 4, John 8, and Luke 19. When Jesus met the woman at the well, he accepted her as she was without judging her. He accepted the woman caught in adultery and Zacchaeus, the dishonest tax collector, as well. Individuals were Jesus’ top priority. He established this priority and gave them worth by putting their needs before the rules and regulations. He involved himself in the lives of people who were considered the worst of sinners, and he met them where they had a need.
In any conflict, you should know that the outcome is not in your hands. You cannot force someone to listen or forgive or change. Only God can work in his or her heart, the same way that he works with you in patience and unconditional love. You can only be responsible for yourself and your relationship with Christ. In certain cases, you may be left with great hurts. You may be someone’s emotional victim. God understands this pain, but he asks you to let him handle the offender—Romans 12:19 (CEV) says, ‘Don’t try and get even. Let God take revenge”.
Penelope Stokes shares a principle for facing such hurt in her book Grace Under Pressure. She says that “when we face a crisis of misunderstanding—no minor disagreement, but a major, life-shattering accusation—we are placed in a position to receive an abundant measure of the grace of God”. God’s healing love is there for you and it will always be there, no matter what. Penelope Stokes says, “Our struggles force us to shift our focus from our circumstances to God. Then we will experience grace in the forms of discipline and healing”.
If you’ve been betrayed or hurt by someone close, remember this verse: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18 – NLT