Read James 1:19
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (NLT)
What do you do when you receive a malicious email, an angry phone call, or find yourself on the receiving end of an abusive dialogue? Most of us are tempted to react directly and immediately. We want to defend ourselves, to even hit back and score some points of our own. Or if we are a different sort of person, we may just suffer in silence assuming all the bad things said about us are true.
Neither response is helpful. It is best to let things cool down a bit before responding. Words said in haste or anger are rarely constructive. Such words cannot be unsaid despite sincere apologies. Launching a counter-attack simply adds fuel to the fire: lots of heat but very little light.
Then again, we may need to respond so as to clarify things, to correct misunderstandings. Defending ourselves against unjustified attack is not a bad thing. It just can’t be done in the heat of the moment. And it might involve some admission of wrong on our part as well as self-defence. Even our angriest critics may have a legitimate point or two.
Taking a deep breath before responding doesn’t mean being a doormat, doesn’t mean burying the issue. We choose to let what really matters come to the surface instead of hitting out wildly. It means we choose to respond rather than react.