“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Pr 15:1 NIV
Have you heard about the fightin’ Irishman who landed in America and announced, “If there’s a government here, I’m agin’ it”? We smile, but “harsh words stir up anger.” If you want to avoid conflict, don’t create it. The key to getting along with people who are upset or who don’t share your viewpoint is to relax and try to empathize. That doesn’t mean acquiescing to their every whim. But when you are clear about your position, you can let them be who they are. When you are okay with who you are, you don’t need to make others wrong in order to feel right. Not only is it naive to expect everybody to see things your way, you must recognize that they have their own thoughts, opinions and feelings. Jesus said, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary…while you are with him” (Mt 5:25 NIV). One family counselor says, “Instead of meeting verbal attack with verbal counterattack, seeing the situation from the other person’s viewpoint is disarming, leaving the attacker with no target.” Do you have to agree with everybody? No, but “Do all…you can to live in peace with everyone” (Ro 12:18 NLT). Are there times when you must defend your position? Yes, but don’t go around with a chip on your shoulder looking for arguments. Sometimes Christians are the worst offenders; we think because our cause is just, it doesn’t matter who gets caught in the crossfire. “Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs” (Pr 19:11 NLT). Make up your mind to extend to others the same grace God has extended to you.