A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1, NLT)
This verse is so true. It’s funny that, in the beginning of an argument, it’s quite easy to avoid the argument itself! A kind or “gentle” word can cool off the tension in an argument. Unfortunately, in the heat of our disagreements, we tend to do exactly the opposite. We may snap at the other person or make a face or do something that will stir up anger. By the end of the argument, we are angry and stressed. So what do we do to avoid all of this?
Whether you’re mad at your parents or having a disagreement with a friend, there are a few basic ways to avoid an argument.
- Listen. Frankly, we don’t listen enough. In arguments, we tend to interrupt the other person and say, “No, no, you’re wrong; now listen to what I have to say.” It’s extremely frustrating for both sides, and no one gets anywhere. Try taking a moment to hear where the other person is coming from. Be willing to question your side of the argument; if you then still believe that the other person is incorrect, don’t interrupt them! Wait for a good time to present your case. Trying to push your opinion onto the other person will only increase the tension. James 1:19 says this: “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
- Disagreements. Do your best to turn the argument into a disagreement. When you argue, you are usually driven by your emotions, often making your argument seem irrational. In a disagreement, you have a different opinion than the other person, and you may try to convince this person that your opinion is correct, but it’s not a fight. To turn an argument into a disagreement, don’t immediately reject what the other person is saying. Stay calm, and don’t get angry if the other person doesn’t agree with your opinion; not everyone will! (see Acts 15:36-41)
- Patience. Impatience often fuels arguments. If you aren’t willing to let the other person have their say, the argument will never be resolved. Also, he/she may understand that you are impatient through your body language or tone of voice; this came make them feel hurt or angry, and will build the argument even more! Romans 15:5 says, “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.”
- The fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Let the fruit of the spirit be present in your life; for, when you overflow with peace, kindness, and self-control, how can you get into arguments in the first place?
This is important: It isn’t wrong to disagree. It isn’t wrong to get angry. What is wrong is when our disagreements lead to fights, and our anger leads to sin. Ephesians 4:26 says:
“In your anger do not sin‘: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”
There is one way to avoid arguments that I didn’t mention: pray! If you feel yourself getting angry, and fear you may hurt someone through your anger, send a quick prayer to God, that He will give you His peace. When you make an effort to avoid arguments, you can be sure that God is smiling down on you.
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