Proverbs 14:29, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly”
Galatians 5:15, “If you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another”
Anger is one of the most paralyzing emotions we all have. When we get angry it seems like there is nothing else happening in the world other than what just took place to make us so mad. It consumes us and many times we fly off the handle and do something we will regret later on. I’m sure this has happened to you? I know it has happened to me. A wise man once equated the human personality to a minefield. “Some people,” he said, “have relatively few mines and interacting with them does not often provoke anger. While others have mines lined up side-by-side from one end of the field to the other, and it doesn’t take much to push them over the edge into an angry rage.”
My beloved, we all have mines buried within our personalities. Some of us respond calmly to most situations that upset us, while others among us, explode with anger, at the slightest provocation. However, the degree to which irritation is tolerated varies from person to person. I read a story about a boy who asked his father, “How do wars begin?” The father replied, “Well, World War I began because Germany invaded Belgium” At this point his wife interrupted. “Tell the boy the truth. It began because somebody was murdered.” The husband quickly retorted, “Are you answering the question or am I?” The wife stormed out of the room and slammed the door as hard as she could. When the room stopped vibrating, an uneasy silence followed. The son then said, “Daddy, you don’t need to tell me how wars begin. Now I know!”
Without any doubt, we will at times be tempted to lash out in anger at someone; however, through God’s work in our lives we can learn to control our anger. What better way to influence people than through a gentle and kind spirit.
Last week while driving on Interstate 86; I noticed up ahead two blue jays in a fierce battle at the side of the highway. With feathers flying, they attacked each other with intense fury. As my car approached, they became locked in combat. Together they rose in the air and fluttered blindly into the path of my car. With a violent thud they smashed against the windshield, leaving a smear of blood and feathers. They were so preoccupied with their battle that they were blind to more serious dangers. Their quarrel cost them their lives.
How often do we act like those two blue jays! Anger causes us to lose our self-control and to say and do things we would otherwise never consider. Anger, if allowed to remain, turns into bitterness that eats away at our hearts. Scripture consistently commands believers to put away anger and lists it as one of the sins of the flesh (Ephesians 4:31). We fail to remember and realize that in a fight no one ever wins. Both are losers. We carry grudges, and our irritations get blown out of proportion and we get angry. I don’t know what those blue jays were fighting over, but it wasn’t worth dying for and neither are our quarrels.
Maybe there is a believer in Christ, a co-worker or neighbor with whom you are angry or bitter, with whom you no longer speak? Once perhaps you were friends, but you have let some offense turn your friend into an enemy? The apostle Paul said, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). The next time you become angry, stop and prayerfully reflect for a moment and ask God for a calm spirit and the right words to say.
He who conquers his anger conquers a strong enemy.