Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15
Everyone has something to do in the management of his temper; and those who are themselves most highly favored, should consider it part of their task to remove occasions of irritation out of the way of others.
But some people are conscious of having a naturally bad temper. They are peevish, or passionate, or sullen, or resentful. The person who is the subject of these dispositions must be aware of it. What, then, is his duty? I will just set down a few hints of advice, given by a friend to one who was very near and dear to me, and who found them very beneficial.
1.) If you are the subject of ill temper, in the first place, never justify it by saying, ‘It is my natural disposition, and I cannot help it;’ or, ‘It was enough to provoke anybody. Nobody can blame me for being so angry;’ or, ‘I don’t harbor malice; but I can never forget the offence.’ All these are but false excuses for a cherished evil.
2. “In the next place, constantly resist the risings of an evil temper; turn away from the occasions of it; and check its first emotions within. It is much easier to refrain from uttering the first angry word, than to stop short at the second or the third. ‘Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.’
“But be careful to resist on Christian principles. To give way to evil tempers and passions, is not only foolish, and disgraceful, and injurious; it is also sinful. Too many people who would look upon theft, or drunkenness, as a sin against God, forget that ill temper and unkindness are equally so; and hence they neglect to control their tempers. But he who views evil tempers in their proper light, will say, before he ventures to indulge them, ‘How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against my God?’
3. “The Christian has a never-failing rule for the government of his temper, in that prescription, ‘Whatever you would that men should do unto you, do you even so unto them.’ Here mark the difference between the world’s maxims and Christ’s maxims. The world says, ‘Do to others as they do to you;’ Christ says, ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.’ If we never say nor do to others worse than we would wish them to say or do to us—we are not likely to say or do much amiss.
4. Cultivate a spirit of Christian humility. This is a fine cure for evil tempers. Pride is always the companion, generally the origin, of petulance and passion: ‘Pride only breeds quarrels.’ “To think that anything should stand in my way! that anyone should presume to oppose me!” Such is the haughty feeling of the angry man; but where Christian humility prevails, the feeling is, “What an insignificant, unworthy creature I am! and yet from how many deserved miseries am I spared! how many undeserved mercies am I permitted to enjoy! Surely, I have enough to keep me contented and easy, and to reconcile me to any little inconveniences I may meet with.”
5.”Look to the example of Christ, who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, Heb. 12:3; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, 1 Pet. 2:23; who forbore to resent injuries, Luke 9:53-56; who pitied his persecutors, Luke 19:41; prayed for his murderers, Luke 23:34; and has left us an example that we should follow in his steps, 1 Pet. 2:21.
6. “Seek the influences of the Holy Spirit. The indulgence of clamor, wrath, envy, and evil speaking—grieves the Spirit of God, and drives him away. But if the Holy Spirit’s aid is humbly and constantly sought, he will dwell in the soul, and subdue those tempers and feelings which are offensive in his sight.”
7. Both the good-tempered and the ill-tempered may find their advantage in committing to memory the following precepts of holy writ—
“The discretion of a man defers his anger, and it is his glory to pass by a transgression.”
“He who is soon angry deals foolishly.”
“He who is slow to wrath is of great understanding; but he who is of a hasty spirit exalts folly.”
“A soft answer turns away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger.”
“He who has no rule over his own spirit, is like a city broken down, and without walls.”
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he who rules his spirit, than he who takes a city.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Let the same mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.”
“Those who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please themselves. Let everyone please his neighbor for his good to edification.”
Gorham Abbott, The Family At Home