Bible Reading: Proverbs 14.26-35
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. 27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. 28 In a multitude of people is a king’s glory, But in the dearth of people is a prince’s ruin. 29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. 30 A tranquil heart is life to the body, But passion is rottenness to the bones. 31 He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. 32 The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, But the righteous has a refuge when he dies. 33 Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding, But in the hearts of fools it is made known. 34 Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people. 35 The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about anger. In verse 29, we read that “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man exalts folly”. Anger is one of those emotional responses that is hard to hide for a person lacking self-control. I once had a boss who like me was nearly bald and was on occasion a bit quick tempered. My colleagues and I learned to spot the growing anger in him, by observing his forehead. When he rubbed his hand slowly front to back across his head in frustration, and his forehead turned red, he was about to blow up, and it often was not pretty. Anger is a powerful emotion. Our words can hurt, and we often regret what we say or do in the heat of the moment.
Notice that the bible does not say to avoid anger. We are wise and understanding when we control and properly channel it. Paul writes, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4: 26-27). Anger only becomes sin when we when our emotions cause us to lash out at the other person either verbally or physically, rather than focusing the energy to confront and resolve the problem at hand. Anger is good provided we address the problem by the end of the day. By God’s grace we need to control our emotions and communicate clearly rather than overreacting in anger.
But there is another sinful type of anger mentioned in scripture that is just as destructive as a hot tempered man. That is the sin of bitterness. Bitterness is when we clam up, or internalize our feelings. Perhaps we fail to forgive a spouse, and instead hold a grudge, telling others about it, but never dealing with the root problem. We open the door to Satan’s attacks when we fail to let the sun go down on our anger and we allow it to linger and build in our hearts. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;” (Heb. 12:15).
Lord help us today to be wise and understanding when we are tempted to respond in anger toward others. Help to deal with problems daily and not blow up or become bitter toward others as we walk in the Spirit.
Memory Verse: There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14.12