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When Tempers Soar

By Jason Bowman

God created us to be in relationship with others. Intuitively, we know this. Even if we enjoy some time alone, none of us want to be alone all the time. The encouragement of others, the warmth of their presence and joy of doing life together gives us strength and hope. Yet, thriving friendships do not just happen. We have to work on them and at times make difficult choices. Consider this proverb from Scripture:

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (22:24-25)

According to the proverb, spending too much time with a person controlled by anger can shape our own attitude. We can end up taking on the same unrestrained temper as our friend. We can even become trapped in this volatile way of reacting to people and circumstances. So, if we want thriving friendships, this proverb provides two lessons.

First, be careful whom you chose for a friend. Sometimes a thriving friendship comes not by the effort we put into the relationship, but by the discernment we use before committing to it or in knowing when to pull out of it. We must accept that we have no power to change people unless people want to change. One of the best decisions we can make in order to have thriving friendships is to know when to step away from a toxic person. This does not mean treating a hot-tempered person poorly, nor ignoring them if they ask for help. It means we do not pursue a close friendship with someone who will ultimately lead us down a self-destructive path.

Second, we need to look at this proverb from the other side. To have a thriving friendship, we cannot be the hot-tempered person teaching others our ways. If we truly believe in cultivating thriving friendships, we must examine ourselves and ask what harmful attitudes and ways of living are we bringing into this relationship? We will never be perfect, but we must be honest. Looking candidly in the mirror and not shying away from the harmful, even sinful patterns in our lives, offers us the best chance to overcome them and to be the best friends we can be to others.

Reflection

Is there someone you have been pursuing a friendship with who is hot-tempered or has other harmful patterns in their life? If this person has no desire to change and is seeking no help to make change, is it time to let this relationship go so that you do not become trapped in the same harmful patterns?

Are you the hot-tempered person or is there another harmful pattern in your life that you need to acknowledge, repent of, and seek help with so that you can be a better friend to others?

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