Going Deeper with the Message:
Countering Anger with Humility
“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” Proverbs 15:1.
The various forms of Karen memes we find on the internet point us to a glaring problem in each of our lives. These memes showcase the epitome of entitlement within a person and their reaction when they perceive they are being wronged in some way.
Entitlement is the idea that we have a right or claim to something. When our entitlement is violated, we easily become angered and possibly even react with an outward expression of anger in the form of an insult or an argument. But this only serves to escalate the problem. Entitlement itself is simply a form of pride for it is, in essence, self-centered. When we center our minds on the things we deserve, to what we are entitled to, we are angry when we don’t get them. Driving in traffic is perhaps the most common example. We expect to be treated fairly and respectfully when we are behind the wheel and expect everyone else to follow the rules to the best of their ability. When someone cuts us off, or drives in any other form of aggression or ignorance, we react in anger, complaining, hurling insults, and honking with vehemence.
Humility is a better understanding of one’s place in this world for it acknowledges our faults and weaknesses before a holy Father. Humility enables us to counter the anger that threatens to overwhelm us because it lessens our pride and feelings of entitlement. It’s difficult to insult a humble person for they already see and recognize their own faults and weaknesses. As Proverbs says, “one slow to anger calms strife” (Prov. 15:18) and this enables him to resolve the problem with ease. It also says that the hot-tempered man—full of entitlement and pride—only enflames the problem and makes it worse for himself. If we are to control the unrighteous anger in our lives, we must cultivate a God-centered humility. Humility forces us to negate the mindset that we are entitled to and deserve certain things. It instead allows us to trust in God and in his way of dealing with calamity, with love and mercy. It also gives us ears that are quick to listen and a mouth that is slow to speak. Humility, properly cultivated, is the antidote to our anger.
“Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.” Proverbs 10:12
Living Out the Message:
A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife. Proverbs 15:18
When dealing with the anger in our lives, Scripture consistently offers the guidance that we should exercise patience and take time before we decide to speak out. Being quick to listen and slow to speak means that there is a gap in time between listening and speaking. In that gap, the wise person is carefully thinking about the consequences of what they are about to say. This allows them to weigh the negative outcomes and decide which words and manner of speaking will be the best approach. In Proverbs, Solomon writes, “A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness” (Proverbs 14:29). Those that speak out of their impulsive thoughts are shown to be foolish for they have not weighed the consequences and the outcome will surely result in disaster.
As you seek to implement Scripture’s truth in your life, you must develop and grow your capacity for patience. When dealing with a situation that leads you to anger, you must take time before responding. I once heard of a seminary president’s approach to dealing with his anger. When he grew angry, he would draft a letter to that particular person, saying all the things that impulsively came to his mind. He would vent out all the anger into this letter, then he would seal the letter and put it in his desk, leaving it there for a time. Most of the time, that letter would stay in his desk unsent. Once the anger had passed, he realized that his words were either unnecessary or inappropriate and decide to respond in a different way with a different letter.
This is a great example of being slow to speak and you should find a similar way to deal with anger. It doesn’t have to be writing a letter, but find a way that allows your anger to pass before speaking. Maybe this involves shutting off your computer or phone and talking a moment to pray. Maybe this involves discussing the problem with someone you trust. Maybe this involves allowing a night of sleep to clear your mind. Either way, having time to cool down will allow you to respond in a better way. Once you have mastered the ability to exercise patience while encountering anger, you will prove yourself to be wise in the way Scripture intends.
Be quick to listen and slow to speak.Ben Biles