Thursday, November 1, 2007

Controlling Anger

“Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9 NASU)

[Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,]

A modern idiom of this would be “do not go about with a chip on your shoulder daring someone to knock it off.” Or, “do not be quickly or easily offended.”

[for anger resides in the bosom of fools]

A biblical idiom for anger is “fire.” A fool harbors anger until it, like a wild fire, burns out of control. But a wise man, caught with his guard down, may feel offence for a moment, but it cannot burn in him; it is a fire kindled which he immediately extinguishes.

“Scorners set a city aflame, but wise men turn away anger.” (Proverbs 29:8 NASU)
“A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back (controls his anger).” (Proverbs 29:11 NASU)

Like laughter and sadness, human anger is a product of the emotion. In the same manner as laughter and sadness is a result of the emotion being stimulated by something being interpreted as being funny or sad, anger is a result of an interpretation of a statement, deed or circumstance as being negative or an offence. If left unattended human anger is a bitter root that fosters strife, malice and revenge and produces an attitude of hate; and hate, like a fire, destroys the soul.

”For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” (Proverbs 30:33 NASU)

The Apostle Paul saw outburst of anger as a basic element of the sin nature of man (Galatians 5:20); thus he writes:

BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger. (Ephesians 4:26 NASU)

He seems to indicate here that anger can be present but when controlled does not lead to sin. Yet he shortly admonishes believers to avoid anger, among other vices.

“But now you also, put them all aside ANGER, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” — (Ephesians 3:8-10 NASU).

And he emphasizes again in the very next chapter,

“Let all bitterness and wrath and ANGER and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASU)

And in another letter he writes,

“But now you also, put them all aside: ANGER, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8 NASU)

Then he writes Timothy saying,

“Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath (anger) and dissension.” (1st Timothy 2:8 NASU)

Other writers also acknowledge the presence of anger in a believer’s life. But the common counsel is, anger, like a fire that is kindled, must be quickly extinguished or it will soon burn out of control.

The Apostle James writes concerning anger,

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to ANGER; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:19-20 NASU)
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up ANGER.” (Proverbs 15:1 NASU)

Now since it is clear from the Holy Scriptures that human anger does not achieve the righteous life that our God desires and requires of us, how must we control anger?

Love, like hate, is an attitude; and they are opposites. Hate is of the flesh or the natural man. The attitude of hate is a result of anger stimulated by something believed to be an offence, inspired by the destroyer of the soul, Satan. Love is of the spirit, or the supernatural.

The attitude of love in the heart of man is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; Rom. 5:5) granting the revelation of the true knowledge of Christ defending the soul from death at Calvary; inspired by a by a Holy Father who desires from His heart of love that all who believe should inherit eternal life (John 3:16).

This our Lord taught,

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:27-31 NASU).

This our Lord did,

When He became angry at the officials of the temple He performed acts of healing (Mark 3:2-6). Also, knowing that Peter would deny him, served him by washing his feet. And then there was Judas who would betray Him, He washed his feet also. When Jesus was unjustifiable carried before mock courts, mistreated, spat upon, cursed, beaten and crowned with a crown of thorns, he could have become very angry---but instead He uttered no threats against them. While hanging on the cross He could have became very angry and called down the armies of heaven to destroy His persecutors, but instead, from a heart of love, He prayed to His Holy Father to “forgive them for they know not what they do.” Love controlled His emotions and He was not provoked.


“Love-----is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.” (1st Corinthians 13:5 NASU)

Thus love is the key to controlling anger.

True believers must overcome anger and not sin—therefore we must put on Christ that we might have His attitude of love within us.


“Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.” (Proverbs 22:24-25 NASU)

And further, by the power of the Spirit that indwells you “---- prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does (James 1:22-25 NASU). Selah.

James C Sanford

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