A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
It’s easy to justify anger when we’re confronted by a difficult situation or with annoying people or with our own unmet expectations. It’s also easy to justify anger when we feel cheated or ashamed or guilty. If we’re not careful, our anger can cause irreparable damage to our relationships.
One mark of a Christian is that the fruit of the Spirit starts to grow in us. God Himself uses our circumstances and the power of His Word to transform us into the image of Christ. It doesn’t come overnight, and oftentimes, we learn best when pain accompanies the process.
The fruit of the Spirit lists down traits that God wants to form in our character. Fruit like love, joy, peace, and patience (see Gal. 5:22). Two of these are gentleness and self-control. I find that these two traits go hand-in-hand.
Whenever a difficult situation or person agitates us to the point where we find ourselves angry, we can actually choose to stop for a moment and let self-control come into the picture. Instead of reacting automatically, it is wise to breathe, to stop; to control our mouths from saying anything rash. We can use this space of self-control to choose gentleness.
Gentleness is, symbolically, the water that douses a raging fire. We may have one hundred reasons to react angrily at a situation or with other people, but is it the wisest thing to do? If we are commanded in the Bible to love one another as we love ourselves, then shouldn’t we desire to have our relationships flourish in an atmosphere where dialogue is heard; where hearts are received in gentleness instead of anger?
How many times have we been in destructive emotional heights, only to find God saying to us, “It’s okay, I love you no matter what. I forgive your mistakes. Now turn and do what is right.” How many times has God’s gentleness spurred us on to be bigger than ourselves and our situation? No wonder a verse in the Bible says, “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me; And Your gentleness makes me great.” (Psalm 18:35)
Gentleness is strength in character. It is choosing the higher road of peace and the greater perspective of Heaven in a situation. We can let go of the right to win an argument, or to prove we are right, if we choose gentleness to make people greater than themselves. Just as God has chosen gentleness to lift us up from situations that should have angered Him, so we, too, should choose gentleness when we deal with others.
As sons and daughters of the Most High God, we should reflect Jesus in His responses to people. Let us NOT be known as a people of anger, but as a people of great gentleness.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.