The Book of Proverbs
The Problem of Anger
*What are you angry about? We all have moments, or perhaps we have major patterns.
*What do you do when anger gets the best of you? I have made this mistake many times and have had to apologize to family, friends, students, and more.
*Be angry and Sin not. Ephesians 4:26. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”
*The wrath of Man. James 1:19-20. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
The Consequences of Anger
Anger can destroy the Home. In various places, the proverbs remind us that anger brings destruction to the home and strips it of the peace and rest that God designed it to have.
Proverbs 17:1. “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, Than a house full of feasting with strife.”
Notice here that anger in the home produces an environment where misery is abundant, even when financial wealth is abundant.
Proverbs 21:9. “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
Notice here again, that the “contentious women” in the home creates such misery that folks avoid being in it.
Anger destroys friendships. Here the Proverbs show us the effect that anger can have on friendships and brotherhood. Once a friendship is hurt by anger, it is almost impossible to gain it back.
Proverbs 18:19. “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
Here the Proverb tells us that winning a friend back after an outburst of anger is more difficult than winning a major military battle. He employs the imagery of a fortress that is impenetrable.
Anger brings sorrow, not resolution. The Proverbs also tell us that sorrow follows from our anger. It has the effect of ruining lives and making situations worse. Whatever we hope to accomplish from unleashing anger does not obtain.
Proverbs 22:8. “He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow, and the rod of his anger will fail.”
Again, the Proverb notes that our anger never accomplishes what we intend it to. Instead, it amplifies things and makes them worse, resulting in sorrow and difficulty.
Anger produces and reinforces Anxiety. The Proverbs teach us that anger generates and reinforces anxiety in our lives.
Proverbs 27:3. “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but a fool’s wrath is heavier than both of them.”
Anger creates heaviness. It weighs us down. And, the one who allows it to rule their lives to generate and reinforce anxiety is a fool.
Reflection & Application:
- In your family, how has your anger created difficulty?
- With your friends, how has anger hurt your relationships?
- What kind of sorrow and anxiety is present within your life because of anger?
What Our Anger Reveals About Us.
A person controlled by anger is a fool. The Proverbs make clear that the person that lets anger control them is a fool.
Proverbs 14:16-17. “A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident. A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of wicked intentions is hated.”
Notice here that wisdom takes us away from anger, but the fool confidently rages in his anger. To be quick-tempered is foolishness.
Proverbs 14:29. “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.”
Here, those who are slow to wrath demonstrate understanding and wisdom. Those who react impulsively are fools.
A person controlled by anger lacks honor. Next, we see that those who are controlled by anger lack honor.
Proverbs 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.”
Those who don’t let anger control them are better than those who win great battles. This is because controlling your temper is harder than winning great battles, and shows more character.
A person controlled by anger suffers from self-inflicted wounds. The Proverbs also show us that those who let anger control them hurt themselves and create destruction for themselves.
Proverbs 18:6-7. “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”
An angry person may indeed call for a fight, but it will be he who suffers the most from it, even if he wins the fight. As a result of his angry actions, hardship will follow him.
A person controlled by anger is a transgressor. The Proverbs also show us that our anger leads us to sin and hurt our relationship with God.
Proverbs 29:22. “An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.”
Simply put, letting anger control us cause us to sin.
Reflection & Application.
- What kind of wounds have you created for yourself with your anger?
- What kind of wounds have been inflicted on you by anger?
What to do about Anger.
Control anger and respond with love. Instead of responding in anger, withhold it, and respond with love.
Proverbs 10:12. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”
Again we see that anger does nothing but create problems, but love heals and covers sin.
Shun harshness and speak kindly. We tend to be harsh. Replace it with kindness.
Proverbs 15:1. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Here we see that if we respond with kindness, we stop wrath in its tracks. But if we react with anger, we fuel the problems further.
Be slow to anger. For many of us, we naturally have a short fuse. But we are called to lengthen it, and we can lengthen it.
Proverbs 15:18. “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”
Again see that being slow to anger stops contentions.
Proverbs 19:11. “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.”
The point here is that wisdom moves us to be slow to anger.
Allow consequences to have their place. We often work to mitigate the consequences of an angry outburst. Sure there are times this may be necessary. But here we are instructed to let consequences have their place.
Proverbs 19:19. “A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.”
Notice here that the act of “rescuing” someone from the trouble created by their outburst will only result in having to do it again at another time. This is because the rescue prevents the person from learning the lesson they should learn.
Avoid the hostile influence of the contentious. The Proverbs also instruct us to avoid the influence of contentious people.
Proverbs 22:10. “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease.”
Removing angry people from life eliminates strife and difficulty.
Proverbs 22:24-25. “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.”
Here the concern is on the way that angry people shape you. Remember that attitudes are often contagious.
Never add fuel to a burning fire. The Proverbs also instruct us not to say or do things that fuel fights.
Proverbs 26:20-21. “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife.”
We can often think of lots of things that could be said in response to anger and hostility. But this is unwise.
Turn away contention and seek the well-being of the righteous. Simply put, we are called to turn away anger.
Proverbs 29:8-10. “Scoffers set a city aflame, but wise men turn away wrath. If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace. The bloodthirsty hate the blameless, but the upright seek his well-being.”
It is easy to participate in hostility. But when we do, we allow the righteous to be hurt. We are called to work for their good.
Reflection & Application:
- How well do you respond to your anger?
- How well do you respond to the anger of others?
- Understand that handling anger requires the spirit of God in our lives. Galatians 5:22—“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”