Three Skills Worthy of Aggressive Pursuit
Most of us would agree that when our relationships are healthy and uplifting our whole life seems better. So a logical question would be, “What can I do to have healthier and more mutually fulfilling relationships?” Relationships are the beams that build our lives—marriages, parents and children, extended family, faith family, neighbors, coworkers and even strangers who come across our path unexpected. They can inspire, refresh, fill, satisfy and comfort on both ends of the relationship. Scripture gives us three key skills, you may have guessed them already since they are so frequently mentioned and so obvious when we see someone who possesses them. They are well-chosen words, well-tuned ears and restraints on anger.
My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. James 1:19-20 (HCSB)
Last month at the Married Life night out, the video teaching by Andy Stanley stressed an attitude that would help us all to make progress on these relational skills. It was to “Expect the Best” of the other person in a relationship.
For instance if a spouse disappoints their spouse with some habitual behavior, there is a temptation to assume that any such event is irresponsible, insensitive, even intentional. But the event at the time may have very valid and unavoidable justification. If we assume the best, we are slow to anger, we are quick to listen, we hear the valid justification, and avoid the piercing words that may have spewed from our mouth.
How is your anger management going? Do you care or do you just prefer letting the “chips fall where they may”? We can face frayed relationships in any of the circles mentioned above inside or outside of our home. Usually unresolved and unrestrained anger are lurking there somewhere. First we have to examine ourselves, then ask for a friend to help us evaluate and monitor it. We need to seek the Holy Spirit’s power to produce the “fruits” that will restrain our anger.
Verses further along in James speak of the challenge of all this. Anger typically triggers harmful words. He illustrates the power of words comparing them to the rudder of a ship and the bit of a bridle on a horse. He illustrates their destructive force by comparing it to a spark that starts a conflagration. But we also know that well chosen words have the opposite effect… “Like golden apples in silver settings, so is a word spoken at the right time.” Proverbs 25:11 (GWV).
These are skills we never truly master, but they are worthy of our life-long, diligent pursuit. They will raise the level of every relationship we have, whether or not the other person is following suit, and I believe it will influence them as they see your progress.
This weekend we will conclude our study in the Sermon on the Mount looking at Jesus’ instructions on worry.
Looking forward to see you!