So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence. (Genesis 16:6)
Before being Abram’s wife, Hagar is regarded as Sarai’s servant, and so, Abram removes himself from the situation somewhat to let Sarai handle things. Perhaps it is his unwillingness to correct the situation that provokes Sarai to deal “harshly” with her, thus prompting Hagar to flee. Jewish commentary suggests that because Sarai was harsh, Hagar’s descendants (through Ishmael) were harsh with Israel. That is an interesting thought to consider.
Solomon wrote that, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” When we unload our anger on someone in an unpleasant way, it has the potential to do a lot of damage. It matters little if the anger is justified; it matters how we conduct ourselves in our anger. Also consider that, while Solomon addresses the immediate affect of “harsh words,” there is also the potential for the anger those harsh words provoked to be passed on to others. In other words, might it be true that Sarai’s treatment of Hagar had long-lasting ramifications for her descendants?
It is acceptable to become angry when it is warranted and sometimes it is needful to be stern. But the key to handling unpleasant situations righteously is the condition of our heart. When we respond to a situation with anger are we seeking to correct an error and encourage reconciliation? Or, as we are prone to do, are we taking our frustration out on someone else? We would do ourselves and our descendants a great favor to embrace what Paul said:
“Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:25-27)
Blessings and Shalom,