When you get angry, it can often be difficult to keep your mouth shut and remove yourself from the situation for awhile. We want to speak out right away. We want to respond. We start to yell. We want to speak our mind. We feel the need to tell the person that we are in the right. We have to explain ourselves. We must get in the last word. We want to tell people when they are wrong and we are right. We can’t help but point fingers.
Nehemiah discovered that people were taking advantage of others. The Jews were charging interest to their brothers. As a result, the people were mortgaging fields and homes. Their children were going into slavery. They were being drained of everything. When Nehemiah found out he was very angry. But notice he did not respond right away.
Nehemiah thought it over; he considered his words and actions. He still went forward and told the people what they were doing was wrong. He told them to return to the people what was theirs. However, he waited till he contained himself and got his thoughts together. Oh how easy it could have been to immediately rush in and start pointing fingers and barking out orders. Instead he gathered his thoughts, went before the people and calmly stated the problem and provided the resolution. Now that is anger management.
“I got really angry when I heard their protest and complaints. After thinking it over, I called the nobles and officials on the carpet. I said, ‘Each one of you is gouging his brother.’”
-Nehemiah 5:6-7 [MSG]
Everyone is different and this can cause many disagreements. We all have varying ideas, a different way of doing things, different beliefs, etc. Disputes pop up and when they do, it is important to not let them create an atmosphere of discord and cause us to react in poor ways. We can learn a lot from how Abraham handled a dispute with Lot.
In Genesis 13, Abraham and Lot’s herders began to fight because the land couldn’t support all of the people, the herds, and the possessions. God had blessed Abraham well, but it ended up resulting in tight living quarters. Abraham took initiative when it came to resolving the dispute with Lot. He did not want any of the fighting to cause problems between them. He gave Lot first choice of land so they could part ways and spread out. In making this offer, Lot could choose the best of the land, meaning that Abraham would suffer some loss.
Sometimes we need to take initiative when it comes to resolving disputes. It may mean that we won’t have the better choice, but it does having promising results. Fighting is not good and it usually results in bringing both parties downward. Acting with humility has great rewards. If you are in the middle of a dispute or argument right now, perhaps today is a good day to act with humility.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” – Proverbs 15:1 [NLT]