It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. Proverbs 20:3
I am fortunate to live with five women. In addition to all the wonderful blessings that brings to my life it also means we occasionally are knee-deep in drama, strife and hurt.
Anger, bitterness, wrath, and jealousy find a way to poison every family and every relationship. It is a fundamental flaw that arises from our prideful nature. The “flesh” blinds us to our obligation to love and to be merciful as Christ loves us and offers mercy despite our sinful ways.
The absence of peace in a family, even in a work family, can make for some awfully painful days and nights. Peace is possible. Peace is preferable. Peace is what God wants for us. It is possible for you, your spouse, and your children to deal with anger (a natural emotion) without sinning. So then, how can we control our behavior to prevent us from using anger to accuse, provoke, and harm one another?
Having a relationship with God is the foundation to build better relationships with those in our families and at work. First we need to understanding how God had every reason to choose wrath, anger and separation to deal with his rebellious creation yet gave his Son to die in our place and therefore receive mercy, grace and love instead. Every since Adam and Eve, humankind has thumbed their collective noses at God. For thousands of years God waited for his creation to get straight yet every rule was eventually ignored, every blessing eventually forgotten. Noah’s flood and the destruction of Sodom were examples where God lashed out yet saved a remnant in the hope that we would change our ways. It took Christ’s sacrifice on the cross however to finally build a passable bridge for humankind to return to the Father.
It is easier for us to forgive dinner being burned, to pause before cursing out a child who comes home late, and to be merciful when the car has a mysterious new dent when we understand how much God has overlooked in us. If we also realize that God created each of us in His own image, and expects us to treat one another with the same unconditional love Christ showed to us on Calvary, we may find a slow path to anger.
There are times, I confess, when something my wife does or does not do causes me to get resentful and even angry. When this happens, many times I make myself think about how Christ would expect me to respond. I also think about how she and my children are gifts from God and if one were to treat a gift with disrespect you are essentially disrespecting the gift-giver. What an anger killer!
At the office, when you find an employee has done something to hurt a valuable client relationship it is easy to go from friendly to “your fired” in a matter of seconds. Yet over the years I have checked my work anger by remembering that we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and boy have I done some dumb things in my career! Now my only concern is “how do we fix this, together, and prevent it from happening again.”
In the end we are not perfect. We will sin, we will get angry, we will fail. Yet when we try to live Christ-like, and we go to scripture to seek God’s help in controlling our emotions, more often than not strife is eliminated or at least minimized.
There is an old song that goes, in part, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” If the world were to watch a video playback of the last 48 hours of your life, would they see someone at home, at work and at play that they could admire?
Invite God into your life. Strive for peace at home and at work. Be slow to anger. Avoid provocation. Use your words to lift up not beat down, Find the positive in everyone no matter the situation and circumstances. Correct with love and not violence. If you can master this lesson I can assure you that peace and joy will be more abundant around you.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:16-18
The acts of the flesh are obvious… hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions. Galatians 5:19-20
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11