A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
It’s the one thing you never want to see light up on the dashboard of your car as you’re driving down the road: the CHECK ENGINE light! Glowing red, it’s the sign that something has gone terribly wrong with your car or is about to. If you want your car to live to see another road trip, you know you need to pull over as soon as possible and check things out.
The emotion of anger is not unlike your personal Check Engine light. Experts tell us that when we find ourselves ready to explode, there’s probably a source of fear, frustration or hurt underneath it all. Most people, however, aren’t usually that introspective when they’re angry—we “blow up.” We “lose it.” We turn to the least threatening person around, and before you know it, we’re doing and saying things we are going to regret. Unfortunately, more often than not, the victims of our angry expressions are those who are closest to us.
Years ago, the writer of Proverbs advised, " Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul." (Proverbs 22:24-25, NLT). He also said, "Self-control means controlling the tongue! A quick retort can ruin everything (Proverbs 13:3). The problem is that our tongues are often the first things we engage when anger rises up inside us.
Some irritations can't be avoided. The truck driver has to make his deliveries no matter how many times he’s cut off in traffic. A mom can’t get rid of her kids when they track mud across the floor she’s just cleaned. The mechanic can't throw a wrench at an overbearing customer or tell him off. There's only one solution‑‑lower your internal temperature. How do you stay cool? The following guidelines work.
Guideline #1: Put the issue into perspective. Take the long view. Ask yourself, "Is this issue really worth getting steamed up over?" "Any bulldog can whip a skunk," goes the old saying, "but sometimes it just ain't worth it." Some things are just not worth the waste of your limited energy.
Guideline #2: Clear the air. If your anger has created divisions between you and your friends, then four words will resolve things. These words are the most difficult to pronounce in the English language. They are simply, "I'm sorry; forgive me." That's it. Scripture says, "A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance" (Proverbs 28:13, LB).
Guideline #3: Cut it lose. Some people are experts at “stuffing” injustices and grievances. Like the stuffing inside your bed pillow, you just keep tucking all the irritations and outright wrongs a person has done to you, nursing your anger, sleeping on them night after night until that pillow is overstuffed and bursts. Don't do it; you're the loser every time. Cut your anger loose by following Guideline #4.
Guideline #4: Deal with problems as they arise. When something bothers you, either unpack it or forget it, but don't hold on to it. Someone once said that problems are like babies—the longer you nurse them, the bigger they get.
Guideline #5: Begin each day by talking to God about your anger; admitting to Him if you have a problem. The Bible says, “In your anger, don’t sin,” (Ephesians 4:26) so we know that God will help you find a way to deal with your anger, without sinning. Take time to search the Bible book of Proverbs and make a careful study of this emotion called anger. God designed it as the “Check Engine” light of your life, to help you live a healthier life. He will help you, if you ask Him.
Resource Reading: Proverbs 29:11, 24, Proverbs 14:17, 29