How should I respond to angry people? And not just a little angry. But a lot. Like boiling mad to irrational rage? Especially as a Christ-follower. I was confronted with this question in a recent experience that took me by surprise. And here are my thoughts about it.
I was the last car in a line turning left at a traffic light. We all turned on the green arrow although it changed to yellow as I went through. I was in no hurry as I headed towards another light a block away to make another left into a small strip mall.
A short distance from the light I heard the roar of an engine and squeal of tires. In my rearview mirror I saw the incensed, contorted face of a driver tailgating me. He had been waiting to make a right turn on the opposite side of the light and I now gathered, was morally offended by my left hand turn.
So he broke the speed limit to catch up, nearly rear ended me in his haste and now drove recklessly, inches away from rear bumper to teach me a driving lesson. And when I stopped at the red light, he halted inches away from my rear bumper to drive home the point.
I responded in a perfectly calm and reasonable manner by throwing my car in park, jumping out and marching to the driver side window, throwing my hands in the air, and shouting, “What are you doing?”
It was completely reactive and impulsive on my part.
And if a brawny lad got out, it might be a problem. Although in my experience, brawny lads are seldom raging bullies, because they have nothing to prove. And true to form, this aggressive bully switched to victim mode and began video taping me on his phone.
So in case you see me on a social media post, please note my egregious act was making a legal left hand turn at a traffic light. But apparently, this driver on the opposite side of the light knew better.
Since he remained safely in his car, I returned to mine and turned into the strip mall as he now, bravely, continued to tailgate me, steering with one hand and video taping with the other. But drove on when I pulled into a parking space.
And here are some thoughts as I’ve had time to reflect and consider a more Godly response to angry people.
How should I respond to angry people? Maybe by offering compassion
People are on an emotional edge. Overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. Bottled up inside. And hidden so you don’t know who they are, what pressures are internally seething, or when a trivial incident will cause an eruption. Something troubling was already going on in the life of the driver I encountered. I simply triggered the explosion.
But I follow a compassionate God. Who instructs me to share the compassion I’ve received from him with others. It doesn’t mean I’m milk toast. Lay down and let people steam roll me. But to measure my response. And not view them as enemies. But people who are likely struggling. And probably need a friend. I don’t know what’s going on in their life. So maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt.
How should I respond to angry people? Maybe by demonstrating joy
Joy doesn’t mean wearing a dopey grin on my face all day. Telling an angry person I’ll pray for them or have a blessed day. That seems patronizing. But it does include silently asking God for his strength and self-control in the heat of a moment. And the goal to act, rather than react to the other person. Or not respond at all, but merely drive on.
It’s not that I don’t have struggles and bad days. I have both. But joy is a fruit of God’s Spirit. Something I possess in spite of difficult circumstances. And difficult people.
It’s the result of living with hope. Because I know God is faithful to his promise. And as a child of that promise, I see an eternal future which radically changes how I see the present. And a sense of meaning that extends way beyond navigating the turn at a traffic light.
So I can choose joy. To act rather than react. And let God’s strength be revealed in my weakness.
How should I respond to angry people? Maybe by extending grace
Grace is an undeserved pardon. That’s me as a sinner before a holy God. I don’t deserve his love or forgiveness. But he extends it anyway through his grace. And as an unworthy recipient, I’m charged by scripture to extend it to others.
I forget this sometimes. Probably because I so quickly return anger for anger and seek to defend myself. Grace requires a supernatural response. Similar to compassion but so much more. Because compassion leads to understanding and acceptance. But grace leads to eternal life. Because grace is granted by God to all who believe in and follow Jesus Christ.
And that’s another message I can share. But no one will hear it if I’m shouting in anger.
It wasn’t my absolute worst response to an angry person. But through the power of God, I can do better.
Let’s hear your angry story along with thoughts on Godly responses.
Find God’s Purpose and you’ll experience a life full of peace, contentment and joy. But how? Here are some thoughts to guide you.
You’ll Find God’s Purpose Revealed Through Scripture
People often approach the search for God’s purpose like it’s mystical. Revealed through dreams, visions and signs. Yes. The Bible is full of stories where God used these methods to reveal His purpose. And He still uses them today. But they are the exception and not the rule.
Because more commonly, God’s purpose is practical and ordinary.
And interwoven throughout scripture. In its commands and teachings on how to treat others, demonstrate Godly character and follow Jesus Christ.
One act, following another in a life that honors God according to His purpose.
It’s less about discovering God’s grand scheme for your life and more about faithful discipleship. Like what does it actually look like in practical terms to love your neighbor? And as you respond to what God reveals in scripture, you will become more sensitive to the mysterious urgings of His Spirit.
You’ll Find God’s Purpose By Joining Where He Is Already At Work
The late Henry Blackaby said this in his Experiencing God discipleship curriculum. Although he specifically referenced the will of God, I think its simple, yet profound advice applies here too. God is still active in the world. And visible to those who want to serve Him.
I had a seminary professor who offered this advice. Find what you do best that can influence the most people for the Kingdom of God…and do it. Brilliant! And so simple. Is there a skill, talent or ability you can use for God’s glory? It doesn’t matter if someone else is better at it than you. The point is…it’s what YOU do best.
Find it and do it. And you’ll experience an even greater blessing by doing something you enjoy.
You’ll Find God’s Purpose Through An Eternal Perspective
Most of God’s ways are beyond our comprehension. Because God is eternal. And so is His purpose for you and this universe.
Therefore, a search for purpose must be viewed from an eternal perspective. By faith. Keeping in mind that God’s ultimate purpose includes all humanity and the entire cosmos.
So if your perspective considers only yourself and life on earth, you should think much bigger. Or the purpose you find will be limited at best. And at worst, completely miss the many blessings and opportunities God has planned for you.
Does God have a special purpose for you? Perhaps. On the other hand, He may simply expect you to respond faithfully to what is revealed in His word.
In humble satisfaction that it is more than enough.
Well, it doesn’t mean you are suddenly perfect. That you never sin again. Or the earthly consequence of sin goes away. But it does mean that in God’s eyes, the slate is wiped clean. And His Spirit takes residence in your life to give you a fresh start and guide you in a new life.
Christianity Lets You Renew Your Mind
We seldom commit sinful acts completely on impulse. Most of the time, we think about them before we actually do them.
Satan knows this.
Which is why he plants thoughts and images in your mind. So you can entertain them. Replay them. Let them flourish and grow so when the actual opportunity presents itself, going from the thought to the action is a smooth transition.
Of course. Many thoughts are sin themselves. No action is necessary. Which is why the mind is such a fertile ground for sin. Because you and I can actually commit all kinds of sin in our minds—without physically doing anything. But all sin has the same effect. To separate us from God.
And that is why the Bible encourages us to take our thoughts captive. To proactively direct our thoughts on things that please God. To understand that while we are subject to sin, and will still sin, it does not have to rule us. And by renewing our minds, it won’t.
And the best way to renew your mind is to bathe it in scripture. And focus your thoughts on God’s Word.
Christianity Allows You To Renew Your Heart
No one messed up worse than David. He was a hero when he defeated Goliath. But later he seduced another man’s wife and got her pregnant. Then had her husband killed to cover it up. A royal mess up. But when confronted, he confessed to God, repented of his sin, and cried out in despair, “Create in me a clean heart O God.”
And God did. Because of His grace and mercy. And He offers the same forgiveness to you and me.
Sin is rooted deeply in our human nature and in our world. So we will never be completely free of it in this life. But it doesn’t have to rule us. God’s mercy is unlimited. So even though I fail today, tomorrow offers a fresh start.
Therefore, I am always filled with hope. And that renews me too.
The New Year is often a time of spiritual reflection. And when searching for answers on life’s deeper meaning, many people turn to the Bible.
While I have a seminary education and study the Bible on a regular basis, I still feel like what I don’t know far exceeds what I do know about what its truths.
But I will say the scriptures have proven to be a reliable source of guidance for every single area of my life. Its teachings are practical, inspirational and eternal in application. So here are 3 guidelines to help you get the most from reading the Bible.
The Bible Is Relevant To Modern Life
Critics point out that the Bible is thousands of years old. An ancient document about ancient people speaking on far removed events not relevant to modern life.
But read it from cover to cover and you’ll discover eye-opening similarities between then and now. Okay, some of the Old Testament books get a bit dry.
But no other document in the world speaks with its candor about the reality, the struggles, the tragedies and triumphs of human life. All the events that took place thousands of years ago are taking place today.
The Bible covers every issue we face today and pulls no punches. It is transparent…even raw in how it honestly addresses…
And the list goes on
The Bible speaks with authority. Offers practical insights and advice. And in spite of all life’s difficulties, still presents hope. There is no other book that is more relevant for life today.
The Bible Considers Itself Absolute Truth
This is probably the biggest reason the Bible is rejected in our modern society. It is written as a prescription. It should be followed according to doctor’s orders.
But many of those prescriptions are uncomfortable and culturally unpopular. Love my enemies? Seriously? I’m struggling to love my family and friends.
So rather than conform our lives to its teachings, we conform its teachings to our lifestyle.
By calling truth relative and treating the Bible like a menu selection. Pick and choose the parts you like and reject the ones you don’t.
Not how the Bible is designed for use, but still a worthwhile endeavor. Because truth is truth. And when you follow it…even in parts…even simply as good advice…you’ll benefit.
Because treating other people the way you want to be treated is not only a Biblical truth. It’s a sound principle that pays off in positive, practical ways.
But if you want to experience the Bible’s complete effect. If you want to experience its full, healing power. Then you have to follow the complete prescription.
The Bible Claims There Is Power In Its Words
The Bible claims to be the very Word of God. And it says those words are alive and active…penetrate even to dividing soul and spirit…judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Wow. Pretty deep, huh?
To be honest, I can’t fully explain what that means. I can say, God’s Word is not a magic formula. Words you repeat like hocus pocus, abra cadabra and poof, things occur. I will also add my own life is not a perfect example of any of them. Same is true for everyone else.
But they are words you embrace. Practices you put into effect. Principles you follow. Many of them are very simple. Hardly any are easy.
I will also say they are personally transforming. At least, it’s true in my own life and I’ve observed it in others too.
The key is in how you approach the Bible. If you read it like a historical document. Or looking for loopholes, special exemptions or to justify your behavior, you’ll probably experience limited benefits.
But if you read it with an open mind. With a willingness to receive it as absolute truth. And follow its prescription. It will change everything. Beginning with you.
Chip Tudor is a professional copywriter,
author and Pastor of Community Life
at Fairhaven Church in Dayton, Ohio.
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