Anger is a problem that absolutely everyone struggles with at some point in their life; it is a problem that is common property of all human beings. As true as that is, we are aware that in the Bible God commands women to a certain kind of attitude that is fundamentally at odds with anger. We read about this in 1 Peter 3:3-4, where it says, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
To talk about how women can cultivate a gentle and a quiet spirit, I have asked Martha Peace to be our guest on the podcast this week. Martha, we are glad you are here. Why don’t you tell us, what is a gentle and a quiet spirit?
Martha Peace: Well, I can tell you what it is not; it is not whispering when you talk. I thought that is what it was and I learned otherwise. It is two different words; gentle, the underlying idea is being meek or humble. It’s an in-wrought grace of the soul; that his what Matthew Henry calls it. It’s coming from in your heart, in your mind, what you are thinking, what you are desiring. It is accepting God’s dealings with you as good. So, some versions of the Bible even translate that, ‘meek and quiet spirit.’ The quiet is a tranquility arising from within yourself and a women like that is not given to anger or fear. So if you combine these things, the two things that I want you to remember are she accepts God’s dealings with her as good – she is not resisting God, she is not angry at God when things don’t go her way – and the second thing is that she is not given to fear or to anger.
Dr. Heath Lambert: So would you say then that a gentle and quiet spirit really has fundamentally to do with the character of God?
Martha Peace: It does, and her heart’s attitude towards God and his providential care and sovereign care over her.
Dr. Heath Lambert: What are some attitudes and actions that women can engage in that are at odds with this gentle and quiet spirit?
Martha Peace: Well, we are very good at that. One thing, if she feels irritated or frustrated – that is the emotion that you feel when you are angry and it is coming from what you are thinking – that would be one of the actions and attitudes that would be at odds with the gentle and quiet spirit. Also, if she blows up in anger, if she speaks in a sarcastic, harsh tone of voice. One biggy is not believing that God is good even when trials happen and that is especially important; to be grateful to God and to see His goodness. If she doesn’t then she really is shaking her fist at God. Not being grateful to God, fretting, worrying about things, those are examples of attitudes and actions that are at odds with a gentle and quiet spirit.
Dr. Heath Lambert: So, some women might be listening to this and they might be aware of a situation where they need to respond with righteous anger and they might wonder, how does that work with a gentle and a quiet spirit? How does a women know how to have righteous anger that is in keeping with that kind of spirit?
Martha Peace: Well, I think I have had righteous anger twice in all these years. I was watching the news one day and they were telling this terrible thing that had happened to this child and I can just remember burning in anger. But, most of our anger is not righteous anger. We may be correct in knowing that, for instance, the child is sinning against us or somebody is sinning against us, but the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. In Romans 2 it says it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. So we should be very aware that we overcome evil with good and not more evil. So, I wouldn’t exactly congratulate myself on the righteous anger.
Dr. Heath Lambert: Ok, that’s good. What are some things that women can do to turn from an angry spirit to one that is gentle and quiet.
Martha Peace: First of all you have got to be discerning about your sin. When you even feel irritated you can rest assured that you are angry; even if it doesn’t come out outwardly. You need to keep short accounts of your sin. Confess it to God. If you haven’t said anything in an angry way or done anything in an angry way – it is just between you and God – you need to ask; be specific; “Lord, forgive me for being angry.” Then, think about what you were thinking when you felt angry. Then, rethink that thought; that is putting on a kind thought, or tenderhearted thought, or a loving thought. I recommend memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient, love is kind…” know it backwards and forwards. Learn, this is the second greatest commandment that our Lord gave us, to love others, so we should be really good at that. Even if you correct your child, if you do it in a kind tone of voice love rejoices in the truth, it doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness; you are showing love. But you have got to start with being discerning and you can’t just excuse it like, “Well, this is just how I am. I can’t help it.” It is sin and it is just sin, but it can be repented of. It is a habit and we have got to put on love; we have got to put on forgiveness and tenderness.
Dr. Heath Lambert: That is good. So, someone might be listening to this podcast right now and they are in a relationship with a women, it might be their fiancé, their mom, their wife, their sister, their friend, a church member, and they know that this person that they are thinking of struggles with anger and does not have a gentle and a quiet spirit. They want to approach that person to help them, but maybe they are nervous about it, maybe they have done it in the past and it hasn’t gone well. For folks who are listening to this and they want to draw near to a women who they are aware needs to be more this way, how might they help such a women?
Martha Peace: Well, if she is not a Christian then I would appeal to her conscience to do what is right; it is not right to scream, cuss, and not calmly discuss something even if you disagree. But if she is a Christian, then Galatians 6:1 and Matthew 18:15 apply. Jesus said, go to your brother privately and Paul wrote in Galatians 6:1 to do this with a motive of restoring that person and to do it gently. So, think about what you want to say. Sometimes, especially in the past, if I was really nervous about confronting someone I would write out exactly what I wanted to say and go over it out loud, “teaching my mouth how to speak” it says in proverbs. Then I would at least be able to get through the reproof without panicking, going off on a rabbit trail, or it becoming confused. If the other person is very proud and arrogant, you might start out by saying, “I want you to consider something…” a proud person might not react so strongly to that.
Martha Peace is a counselor certified with ACBC and is a speaker at our 2016 Annual Conference. If you would like more information about what we have talked about today, you can read some of her books, Attitudes Of A Transformed Heart, Damsels in Distress, or The Excellent Wife. If you would like to learn more about topics like anger, be sure to check out our Fundamentals Track at our regional conferences.