How can I deal with the anger or bitterness of another?

Proverbs 14:10

The unfortunate fact is, sooner or later all of us will run into someone who feels angry or bitter toward us. What should you do when you find yourself the object of another’s bitterness? How should you respond to someone’s red-hot anger aimed straight at you? Responding to bitterness with more bitterness only leads to a combative and explosive situation. So what should you do?

First, tell yourself the truth about the situation. What happened? How did the situation unfold? are you really at fault? It may be you can’t entirely reconstruct the event in question, but try your best to honestly recall what led to the outburst.

Second, listen carefully to what the bitter person is saying. Bitterness and anger are usually the offshoots of deep hurt. Say something like, “It seems you are really upset. Can we talk about it?” Even such a simple question may help defuse the situation. Although you may not be able to uproot the bitterness in someone else’s life, you can stop it from taking root in your own heart by asking God to help you understand why this person feels the way he or she does.

Third, any time you come under personal attack, it is important to recall God’s personal love for you. You may have made mistakes, but that does not change the Lord’s feelings about you. Ask Him to encourage you through His Word.

Fourth, ask God to help you respond with His love and grace, and to protect you from angry attacks. In Psalm 64, we read how David prayed for God’s deliverance from the attacks of an embittered enemy. He wrote,

“They aimed bitter speech as their arrow, to shoot from concealment at the blameless.” (Psalm 64:3,4)

At times, the angry person will attack by turning others against you with their accusations. Yet you should not fear their venom because God protects and vindicates His people (Psalm 64:7–10).

Bitterness is a much deeper and more complex reaction than a simple expression of quick anger. It is a satanic stronghold that needs to be faced in an honest manner. God tells us to beware

“that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrew 12:15).

When you find yourself the target of a bitter accusation or a hateful personal attack, pray for God’s protection. Ask Him to give you wisdom in dealing with the other person, as well as a healthy perspective on the entire matter. Your reaction to the assault is the most important issue with God. Therefore, be firm but loving in what you say and do.

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