“If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.” Ephesians 4:26
Do not let your anger lead you into sin and do not stay angry all day…
So, I guess that means staying angry all week or all month won’t fly either?
It’s easy to get angry in the super market line or when someone cuts us off in traffic, but it seems those offenses are short lived. Once we are out of that situation and comfortably at home in our pajamas, those disgruntled moments begin to fade. However, it seems that the workplace oftentimes introduces a whole new level of anger into our lives.
- A boss or supervisor who has it out to get you
- A colleague who is jealous of your success or who simply rubs you the wrong way
- A competitor who always seems to come out on top
- A client or customer who tends to be entitled, demanding, or disrespectful
- An assistant who makes a few too many mistakes…
It seems that working with others, especially in high stress situations, on a daily basis can make it difficult to hide bitter feelings toward those who we don’t naturally love.
Yet the Word of God tell us to love everyone. Jesus himself commanded it many time throughout His ministry… So, how do we deal with anger? Do we just ignore it? Do we let others take advantage of us or treat us poorly? What is the proper way, as Children of God, to handle anger the way Jesus would?
When someone offends you or a situation arises where anger threatens to lead you into sin…
- Control Your Tongue…
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2
If a gentle response from a wise person appears knowledgeable and a harsh response from a fool displays stupidity, we can see that controlling our tongue and answering in a calm way exhibits an incredible strength. Rather than getting into a screaming match or cursing like a sailor, try taking a deep breath and responding in a gentle manner. I’m not saying you should ignore the offense, but rather than speaking back in anger, reply in a calm, clear tone and be as objective as possible, defending the facts of the matter with wisdom, clarity and kindness.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
As followers of Christ, we know that forgiveness is a key component of our faith. Jesus begged God to forgive those who persecuted Him even as He was beaten, humiliated and publicly crucified. Jesus also told His disciples that if anyone slapped them to turn the other cheek and offer that one also. When later asked how many times they should forgive those who wronged them, Jesus answered that they should forgive not seven times but seventy-seven times… which was simply His poetic way of saying “infinitely, continuously, always, again and again.” If we expect our Father to forgive us of our many sins and wrongs, we must also make it a priority to genuinely forgive those who have wronged us.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44
As soon as you’re alone or have a moment of peace, pray. Of course you should thank God for helping you control your tongue when it wasn’t easy to do and ask Him to help you to continue speaking with grace, but above all of those things, pray for your enemy who spoke against you. Ask God to bless her, for Him to forgive her, and to change her heart toward you. Pray that whatever is causing her resentfulness toward you would be understood and forgiven and that you could establish a relationship of peace.
- Make Kindness Your Mission…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
It might be hard to seek out ways to be kind to someone who has negative feelings toward you or who hurt you, but no one ever said being the bigger person would be easy. You’ve already been walking in step with the Spirit by responding with gentleness and self-control, forgiving and forbearing, and praying for peace, so continue down the path of mending your relationship by going out of your way to show her love and goodness. You could buy her a coffee at a local coffee shop, send her an encouraging email, offer to take a task off of her plate, or invite her to lunch with you. Joy is a gift you can give on any budget!
- Be At Peace…
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
Once you’ve done all you can do to make peace with those who have angered or hurt you, you must simply be willing to be content with that. Continue to be kind, to pray for her, to respond to her harshness with gentleness, and to forgive her as many times as she wrongs you, but then find peace and live in that tranquility. At the end of the day, you can’t force someone to like you. You can’t control what they say about you or how they feel. You can’t make them treat you any differently. All you can control, is you. Once you’ve done all you can do, continue to do your best to live in peace with that person, and be content with your best effort.
The workplace can be cruel and uninviting, but our ministry knows no borders. God wants us to be his witnesses even to the ends of the earth. Perhaps in your office, on your team, or within your company there is one person, or a few people, who don’t realize how desperately they need the love of God, but as His children it’s our job to spread the good news that forgiveness and salvation is a free gift. We are the light of the world, so let’s shine on those who are in the dimly lit offices next to ours.