Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Ephesians 4:26
Before marriage opposites attract; after marriage opposites irritate. Before marriage we have disagreements, but after marriage we have fights. Once we are married, we must learn to resolve conflicts when they surface. How do we do this?
Learn to control anger. “Angry” means being exasperated or enraged. Ephesians 4:26 teaches us not to let the sun go down on our rage. In other words, we should resolve our conflicts quickly. The Bible does not say, “Don’t get angry,” but it does say, “Don’t stay angry.” Proverbs 15:1 says that “a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” We control our anger by controlling our words. Our words can stir up contention in others as well as in our own hearts. We shouldn’t exaggerate a problem with statements like, “You are always late.” Accusations harden, but questions convict. To reduce hostility, we must choose our words carefully.
Be honest. Intimacy requires honesty. No problem is resolved apart from transparency and candidness. “Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour” (Eph. 4:25). Shepherding our families requires frankness. Periodic heart-to-heart talks with our spouses, children, and grandchildren are necessary. We must be committed to speaking the truth in love. After Deb and I were married, we set aside thirty minutes a day for conversation; I chose the topic one day, and she led our conversation the next day. Getting beyond surface-level communication requires intentional honesty.
Determine the right time to deal with problems. It’s important to handle disagreements quickly. We must not let the sun set without attempting to resolve any misgivings in our hearts. Today is the time to deal with issues that happened today.
Longstanding issues require wisdom and discernment. It may have been a year or more before the Lord sent Nathan to confront David regarding David’s adultery. We need to discern God’s timing. It’s not a good idea to bring things up when we are tired or just before bedtime.
Be committed to a creative alternative. We should replace the negative with a positive: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good” (Eph. 4:28). A thief should not only stop stealing, but he should also get a job. In marriage we must look for creative alternatives to negative tendencies. Some people specialize in identifying problems; a few are good at finding solutions; but real success comes when we identify opportunities. Someone said that life is full of opportunities cleverly disguised as insoluble problems. We should view our family challenges as opportunities. Then we can commit to creative alternatives.
Be tactful. Howard Newton said, “Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.” Paul admonished, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth” (Eph. 4:29). Thomas Manton said, “Most of a man’s sins are in his words.”
It’s better to swallow angry words than to have to eat them after we say them. A man and his wife were taking a road trip. The wife, waking up after a nap, noted, “We’re lost.” The husband replied sarcastically, “Yes, but we’re making excellent time.” They spent the next two hours arguing. As they passed a donkey in a field, the husband said, “Is that a relative of yours?” His wife responded, “Yes—by marriage!” We should steer clear of putrid communication.
Stop grieving the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:30 tells us, “Grieve not the holy Spirit of God.” Unforgiveness and division in the home grieve the Spirit. A happy home consists of Spirit-filled people. To have this kind of home, we must live lifestyles of repentance. We must never defend wrong actions but rather humble ourselves before the Lord and one another. Everyone should earn a PhD in repentance by repenting often, immediately, and completely!
To honor the Holy Spirit, we must follow the divine pattern of listening to and obeying His promptings.
Keep it private. “Let all . . . evil speaking . . . be put away from you” (Eph. 4:31). We need to stop advertising our frustration. When we go public, we want pity. But we end up causing resentment. We should not down talk our mates or openly embarrass them or use sarcasm against them. The only people we should talk to about our problems are those who can help us solve our problems.
Always be kind. “Be ye kind one to another”
(Eph. 4:32). Careful treatment is called for when someone has been wounded. We must be kind and tenderhearted. Time does not heal all wounds, but it does take time for wounds to heal. We can ask God to make us kind and compassionate people.
Conflicts are inevitable, but they are solvable. Happy families learn how to resolve conflicts scripturally.
- Which of the following steps are most needed in your home: controlling your anger, getting honest, using right timing in addressing problems, finding creative alternatives, being tactful, not grieving the Holy Spirit, keeping things private, or being kind?
- Memorize Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Ask the Lord to help you apply this truth in your family.
- Commit to taking care of difficult matters daily, before the sun goes down.
This chapter is taken from our book “Home Improvement- Keys To Building A Happy Home“. Click on the link to learn more about this book.