One of my favorite activities is camping, and one of the first things you have to know when camping is how to build a fire. Equally important is how to put out a fire. There are two ways to do that: quit putting logs on it or add water. By not putting logs on it, you let the fire burn to a slow death. Ive learned that even though there’s not a fire present, there are still embers below the ashes that can easily be ignited into a fire. To prove it, I like to go out in the morning, grab some small wood pieces, and start a fire with no matches. The “don’t feed the fire any logs” method isn’t the best way to put it out.
The best way is to apply water. Even though you add water and the flames die down, the same thing happens here as when you withhold logs. There are still embers beneath the surface that can be ignited. You must pour some water, stir the ashes, and pour more water until the fire is out. Putting out fires is a skill that we should learn. If you don’t do it right, you run the risk of starting a new fire and creating a lot of damage. Many of the most damaging forest fires were started by a small ember campers thought were put out.
The same way you put out a fire is the same way you help get rid of anger. You can choose to hide from the person who’s angry or you can calm the anger with words. Avoiding a person who is angry simply lets their anger boil under the surface. It can easily be reignited with the smallest things. All may look well on the surface, but underneath the ashes of the aftermath are embers waiting to be given fuel to grow. Yes, you may need to step away from the situation to allow both sides to cool down, but I don’t recommend this method for resolving situations.
Proverbs 15:1 gives us the real answer. It says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (NLT). Your response to someone’s anger determines whether the situation escalates or is put out. Arguing back is like putting another log on the fire. Offering a gentle response is like adding water to a fire. You’ll have to keep your composure and continue offering soft answers until it is resolved. One answer won’t repair the situation immediately. It requires continued patience, understanding, and gentleness to help calm the anger in others. If you leave it unresolved, you may create a fire that gets out of control and causes irreparable damage.