When we read through the Proverbs we read of those who are wise and those who are fools. We read of how fools can be wise and how the wise can become fools. The book of Proverbs is wonderful for setting people into groups or categories. Now I am one who does not really like to put people in to groups, and in fact a recent study found that there are two types of people. Those who put people in to categories and groups and those who do not, and I in fact do not. But the book of Proverbs so clearly puts people in to groups. Those who are wise and those who are fools. For example, have you ever told a lie about someone?
Proverbs 10:18 Whoever hides hatred has lying lips,
And whoever spreads slander is a fool.
You see Proverbs 10:18 says that when we tell a lie about someone, spread a rumor if you will, then at that moment we are fools. Now that does not mean that we cannot be wise.
Prov. 17:28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;
When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
Now surely every single one of us in this room can identify with this one. Surely we have all had moments when we realize that it would be wise for us to say nothing at all.
Now we can read in the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes as well that there is an association with anger and being foolish as well. We read in Ecclesiastes 7:9;
Eccl. 7:9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
And we read in Proverbs 14:29;
Prov. 14:29 He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
he who is impulsive exalts folly.
Now what is clear to us from scripture is that if you are easily provoked to anger you are acting foolishly. If you are one who is slow to anger you are exhibiting signs of wisdom. One of the things that came out in the 2008 elections was the subject of anger, and how a particular candidate was quick tempered, which was considered unwise for a president to be. So we can see even by today’s standards that a person’s temperament says a lot about their character.
We more than likely know someone who can be quick tempered (or perhaps even we ourselves) and we may wonder is anger (quick temperedness) something that we can control? I hear all the time that, that is just the way someone is, or that is the way they are and there is nothing that can be done about it. However, this is not at all what the Bible says about it. We read in Proverbs 16:32
Prov. 16:32 He who is slow to anger is
better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
I am sure that many people’s first reaction might very well be that they are not mighty, and are not better than one who rules a city, so I guess that means that they cannot become slow to anger. But, have you ever come across the mighty, or those who have taken a city? They are not just born that way, but they work for it, they plan for it.
If you are going to control your anger you better have a plan, just like that mighty man who takes down a city. To control anger there are two things that must be done. First, we have to become slow to anger. The second thing we have to do is control ourselves when we do become angry.
Did you know that when you read about anger in the Bible there are different words used to describe that one word we use called anger? You may be reading in the Old Testament and read about nostrils flaring, or turning red in the face. You may be reading in the New Testament and be reading about becoming filled with strong displeasure to the point of wanting to lash out in wrath, or you may be talking about being in a state of intense anger, or in an angry mood.
You see anger can show itself in a variety of forms.
When I understood it like that, I immediately began to remember the cartoons of old. You know, those ones where you see characters turning red in the face, smoke coming out of their ears and nose. Those characters are illustrated in such a way that you know they are angry, and the Bible is written in such a way that it describes what we are feeling on the inside perfectly when we become angry.
What we want to do first is to become a people who are slow to become angry. To do this we will turn to Proverbs 19:11
Prov. 19:11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger,
And his glory is to overlook a transgression.
In order for a person to be slow to anger, he has got to educate himself. I am not talking about going to college and earning your degree. We are not even talking about getting pamphlets from Pueblo Colorado or some other government agency on dealing with anger either. What we are talking about is getting all of our facts straight before we become angry.
What this means is one, we have to make sure that what we think is happening or has happened is really what is going on. Often times, even couples can think that the other person is trying to destroy them when in reality we find that it is not the case at all.
I remember when Faith and I were getting married; we did not think that we could go on a honeymoon trip. We did not have very much money to speak of, and we felt that it would not be a good idea to spend money on a trip so we agreed to spend our honeymoon in our one room apartment.
However, I felt really bad about it, and so my mother and I worked out a deal where we could in fact go on a little road trip. That was not enough however, because I wanted to surprise Faith with the honeymoon- and I even arranged to have her bags packed and in the get-a-way car. I was so proud of my self.
Then it happened. Faith calls me the day before the wedding and says; “I want to take my friend back to the airport after the wedding is over.”
“That would not be a good idea, no,” I said.
Needless to say Faith got a little upset with me, and she wanted to know why I did not think it was a good idea. After all she had not seen her friend in years, and she only wanted a few moments to catch up with her. Faith was beginning to feel as though her soon to be husband was a little on the insensitive side. Not wanting to have that label on me, (and much to my mother’s dismay) I told her everything about the trip, having her stuff packed, I mean everything. Faith then realized that I was not being insensitive, I was trying to surprise her- and do you know that to this day she has a tendency to be one step a head of my trying to surprise her. I thought I was a head of the game for Christmas last year, but not so fast!
I she figured out what I got her without even trying, so I had to start all over again.
So make sure that what you think is going on, is really what is going on. Get the necessary information you need before becoming angry.
The second thing we need to know before becoming angry is found in the second part of verse 11.
That is to forgive others when they sin against us. They may have done something to set you off, and make you angry. But you must look for ways to forgive it.
As a husband I have learned that often times when Faith has made me angry, as soon as I blow up at her I feel as though I am well within my rights. But Faith will not see it that way and she will real quickly let me know that I am in need of correction. I will pray to God about it (I wish I would do that first) and I will tell God I got her this time, I am right and she is wrong.
“God I am right this time, I did what I was supposed to do, and she is the one off base this time!”
Then as if God sets me aside for a moment, and puts His arm around me and looks me directly in the eye. He always says something to me like this. “Dennis, have you thought about what she is going through? Have you thought about the pressures that she has going on? Have you thought about the things that you have done wrong that she has quickly overlooked?
Have you realized that even though she makes mistakes, you make mistakes, and neither of you are trying to destroy each other you are just two human beings who have a sinful nature and you are going to make mistakes?” You see anyone can find a reason to be angry, but everyone should look for reasons to forgive.
The key to be slow to anger is having the wisdom, the knowledge to know what is going on, why what happened took place, and looking for the reasons to forgive. If what they did to you was too great, perhaps you should stick with me a little further, as I continue on to the next point of being a person who controls their anger- or as Proverbs 16:32 says “rule their spirit.”
Often times when people feel their blood boil or their nostrils flare up, they lash out or do things they other wise would not do as a result of being angry. How many times has some one had to apologize (or you have to apologize yourself) to someone because something was said or done, not because they wanted to, but because they were angry?
Yet we read in Ephesians 4:26:
When Christ saw the evil that was going on in His Father’s house I do not doubt for one second that He felt His blood boil or His nostrils flare. But what He did was just as much an act of love as everything else He did. Love for the Father, you bet. But, love for those in the Temple also.
Proverbs 3:11-12″>Be angry, and do not sin
Prov. 3:11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor detest His correction;
Prov. 3:12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
There is an appropriate time for correction, for rebuke, and for good chastening. There comes a time for righteous anger, but it must be done in love.
Make sure that when your emotions rise, and you are about to take action that what you are about to do is because you love the person and are putting their needs above your own.
When we correct our children it should be because we love them and we want to see them grow to be people that learned to love and respect others, and not become a people that seek only their interests. As pose to lashing out because we are only thinking of our needs our wants and our desires.
James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for
pleasure that war in your members?
James 4:2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it
on your pleasures.
James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
A Christian’s inability to rule their spirit, to lose control when they become angry is not because they are unable to do it, it is because they are walking in their flesh, and not the Spirit. As Christians we can fall in to the trap of believing that we are angry for the right reasons, perhaps because we feel as though we have been trampled on. Though your reason for being angry may be just, your actions while angry may be sinful. We are to take our issues to God, look for ways to forgive and to minister to each other. This does not mean that we are to let people walk over us, but we should do so in a godly manner- anything else is sin. This may sound like strong language, but James 4 makes it clear, Ephesians 4 makes it clear when it tells us that despite the fact that we are angry we should not sin, and we should also make sure that the anger in our hearts is gone at the end of the day.
Do you think that Jesus was still angry after He corrected those men at the Temple? We read of no place in Scripture where Jesus brought it up again, where He went in to private meetings with His disciples and gossiped about “those people.” We do not even see a place where He says “I don’t trust that Judas guy, I am going to keep my eye on him.” Folks, Judas was the treasurer, he is the one that they trusted with the money.
I hope that you will understand that the Bible says that we as Christians should not be a people that harbor anger in our hearts. If you are angry, deal with it and let it go. But what happened to you was horrible; I understand but failure to forgive is of the flesh (including yourself) and forgiving is of the Spirit and a sign that you are exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:18-24 tells us this:
Gal. 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Gal. 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
Gal. 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
Gal. 5:21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Gal. 5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Gal. 5:24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
James wrote in James 4 that the number one cause for anger in our lives is sin; our own selfish motives and desires can be the cause of war and put us at odds with each other.
Our walking in the flesh leads only to sin and strife. Conflicts occur when we are focused on ourselves and not the Word of God.
Here in Galatians 5 we read much the same thing. What causes us to commit adultery, commit sexual relations outside of marriage, to become drunk, to murder, and to lash out at others when we are angry?
Sin, and our walking in the flesh.
What is our hope?
How do we prevent doing such things? By our reading the Word of God, by our being in prayer, by our memorizing of the scriptures, or in other words by our walking in the Spirit, our growing in the Spirit, the putting off the old man and putting on the new. It is the transforming of our minds that Paul talked about in Romans 12:1-2.
Look again at Proverbs 19:11 (12)
Prov. 19:11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger,
And his glory is to overlook a transgression.
Prov. 19:12 The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion,
But his favor is like dew on the grass.
Jesus, God is our King and He has every reason to be angry with us. We have sinned against Him at every turn. As the old sermon goes, we are sinners in the hands of a very angry God.
But Jesus came and died for our sins so that we could know His favor, so that we could know His grace, and it is like water on dry and parched land. Through Christ we have been forgiven a larger debt than all the banks that have ever gone under or will go under (with or without a bailout) in the world.
The knowledge, the wisdom that makes us a people slow to anger is that we should know all the facts about the situation. The way that we control our selves when we do become angry is that we look to God to fulfill our needs instead of the things of the world (those things that seem important to our flesh at the time). To keep in our minds and our hearts that Jesus Christ has paid the enormous debt that we could never pay, so that we could forgive the tiny and insignificant debts of others.
Let me close with these final verses..
Eph. 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
Eph. 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
* Bible Quotes taken from NKJV