Toñi, a professional caregiver, rang the doorbell, and a middle-aged woman answered. The woman insulted Toñi and berated her for not arriving earlier to care for the woman’s elderly mother. Toñi was not late for work. Yet, she calmly apologized to the woman for the misunderstanding.
ON THE following visit, the woman lashed out at Toñi again. How did she react? “It was a very difficult situation,” she admitted. “Her verbal abuse was unjustified.” Nonetheless, Toñi apologized again and told the woman that she understood the suffering she was experiencing.
Had you been Toñi, how do you think you would have reacted? Would you have tried to display a mild temper? Would it have been a struggle for you to control your temper? Undeniably, it may not be easy to maintain composure in situations such as the one described above. When we are under stress or provocation, it is a real challenge to remain mild-tempered.
The Bible, however, encourages Christians to be mild-tempered. In fact, God’s Word associates that disposition with wisdom. “Who is wise and understanding among you?” asks James. “Let him by his fine conduct demonstrate works performed with a mildness that comes from wisdom.” (Jas. 3:13) In what way is a mild temper evidence of the wisdom from above? And what can help us to cultivate this godly trait?
THE WISDOM OF A MILD-TEMPERED SPIRIT
A mild temper can defuse tension. “A mild answer turns away rage, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
An angry reaction can make an unpleasant situation worse because it adds fuel to the fire. (Prov. 26:21) In contrast, a mild-tempered reply often has a calming effect. It can even soften the attitude of a person who is hostile.
Toñi saw that occur. Noting Toñi’s mild-tempered response, the woman gave way to tears. She explained that she was beset by personal and family problems. Toñi gave a fine witness, and a Bible study was started
A mild temper can make us happy. “Happy are the mild-tempered, since they will inherit the earth.”
Why are mild-tempered ones happy? By clothing themselves with mildness, many individuals who were once aggressive are now happy. Their life has improved, and they know that a wonderful future awaits them. (Col. 3:12) Adolfo, a circuit overseer in Spain, recalls what his life was like before he came into the truth.
“My life was going nowhere,” says Adolfo. “My temper always used to get the better of me, so much so that even some of my friends feared my arrogant, violent reactions. Finally came a turning point. In a brawl, I received six stab wounds and almost bled to death.”
Now, however, by word and example, Adolfo teaches others to be mild-tempered. Many are drawn to his warm and pleasant personality. Adolfo says he is happy for the changes he has been able to make. And he is grateful to Jehovah for helping him to cultivate a mild temper.
A mild temper makes Jehovah happy. “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, so that I can make a reply to him who taunts me.”
Jehovah is, in effect, being taunted by his archenemy, the Devil. God has every reason to be wrathful over such deliberate insults, yet the Bible describes Jehovah as being “slow to anger.” (Ex. 34:6) When we strive to imitate God’s slowness to anger and his mildness, we follow a course of wisdom that pleases Jehovah greatly.
The present world is often a hostile environment. We may run into people who are “boastful, haughty, blasphemers, . . . slanderers, without self-control, fierce.” (2 Tim. 3:2, 3) Still, that should not prevent a Christian from cultivating a mild spirit. God’s Word reminds us that “the wisdom from above is . . . peaceable, reasonable.” (Jas. 3:17) By displaying a peaceable and reasonable spirit, we give evidence that we have acquired godly wisdom. Such wisdom will move us to respond mildly when provoked and will draw us ever closer to the Source of infinite wisdom, Jehovah.