Today we close our Temptation Series on how to avoid the Consequences of Anger. It has been a great series that I hope you have enjoyed. If this is your first time, permit me to recap the previous (7) posts. We first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study about the danger of flirting with Temptation called:
Then we looked at:
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Alcohol and Drugs (Part 2) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3a) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3b) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gluttony (Part 4) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Compromise (Part 5) ★
★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gossiping (Part 6) ★
When planning out the Temptation Series, I purposely saved anger for the last post because of the toxic nature of this particular pitfall. Every single person has felt the sting of this force whether as the receiver or as the one to fly off the handle. Anger manifests itself in different forms and in varying levels of severity. One of my favorite verses on anger comes from Proverbs 29:11 (NIV1984)
“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”
Now I say that it’s my favorite, but it is also quite convicting at the same time as I tend to give full vent to my anger or frustration when I feel I have been wronged or treated unfairly. But the key is in the first word…FOOLS! “Fools give full vent to their rage.” What do the WISE do?? They “bring calm!” (See also Ecclesiastes 7:9). My hope and prayer is that God would open your eyes to see the danger of yielding to this monster!
A few weeks ago I was visiting family in New Jersey and New York and it was interesting to see how much I have changed since moving to Texas 10 years ago. As I stood waiting on the curb at Newark International Airport, the amount of car horns repeatedly sounding off was evidence to the short fuse people have when they don’t get to where they want to go. After being picked up, I then saw the effect of being “cut off” by other cars on my sister’s disposition. Now she wasn’t experiencing road rage or anything near to the extent that we have been hearing on the news, but Anger definitely popped up! Hahaha! And though I thought I had overcome anger behind the wheel, I lost my temper as I was cut off in the pick-up line at my girl’s High School after I had landed that day. This example is insignificant enough, but the pitfall we are focusing on today is one that if not contained can cause irreparable damage! Anger is an all too common emotion that we all have felt, sometimes justifiably, but more times than not we unleash our hostility on those in our lives. King David had this advice in Psalm 37:8-9 (NLT):
“Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper — it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”
Oh how true this is. Growing up I saw how violent my father would get when he drank, and the hurt he inflicted on my mom. For years my Father allowed the alcohol to consume him and when he found himself at the bottom of the bottle, his rage was released on her. By the age of 5 my mom divorced him so she could escape from the abuse. If you find yourself in that circumstance I encourage you to find help, here is a great resource: Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.
The Bible has a lot to say about anger. One of the most famous quotes about communication and conflict comes from James 1:19 which instructs:
This by far is the best advice anyone could heed. I know myself that more problems have resulted when I failed to follow this counsel. I have worked hard to change this tendency as I have been slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to get angry. I saw this great quote that summarizes James 1:19 beautifully:
“You have two ears and one mouth. Follow that ratio. Listen more, talk less.”
I love that so much!! How different would this world be if we did not allow our emotions to run wild? I have been going through a Bible Reading plan call “Holy Emotions – Biblical Responses to Every Challenge” by Carol McLeod. She made some very interesting observations that dovetail beautifully with what we are talking about.
“Your emotions travel 80,000 times faster than your thoughts travel. Isn’t that amazing? The tremendous speed of our emotional responses to life helps to explain why, even Christians, often tend to operate out of feelings rather than out of principle…If you continue to allow your emotions to rapidly yank you through life, you will always say things that are embarrassing, act in ways that are unbecoming, and never be the person that God intended for you to be. You will end up having the effect of a rapid-moving, volcanic eruption that decimates everyone in its violent, angry path.”
Wow! That was so true in my life both before accepting Jesus as my savior and regrettably after becoming a Christian as well. I have worked hard to break the cycle of violence that was passed down from my father who witnessed the same behavior from his father. Now I have never lifted a hand to my wife or kids but I certainly have been short with them and mean at times. In the devotional Carol McLeod mentioned Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) which warns:
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
I have read that passage many times but she made this point that helped me see it in a whole new light:
“Your heart does not want to be guarded. It desires to loudly express itself and all of its opinions. Your heart is passionate about ventilating, vomiting and vocalizing every little feeling it has ever experienced. The Bible never says that we are allowed to express everything that is in our heart – it simply says to guard it.”
Genesis 4:2-16 tells of the first man who failed miserably to guard his heart. Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, brought an offering to God after a period of time; whereas his brother Abel brought the firstborn of his flock. God did not have any regard for Cain’s offering which resulted in him becoming was very angry. In verses 6-7 there is a truth that all of us need to learn today…
“The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’”
God warned Cain that “sin is crouching at the door,” which just like a lion ready to strike, our Anger is no different.
Unfortunately Cain did not resist the temptation and he ended up committing the first murder in history as a result of his bitterness and resentment towards his brother Abel. As a result, Cain was cursed and became a “fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” James 1:20 (NLT) instructs that:
“Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
So if we call ourselves Christ Followers and earnestly desire to serve God, we must get a hold on our anger issues to avoid the consequences which may be more than we can bear. I read this story a long time ago which has always stuck with me. It is a great analogy on destructive nature of anger.
Just like the fence, when we give into the temptation of anger and open the perpetual fire hose of poison into our lives, we run the risk of permanently destroying the relationships we hold dear. I shared Proverbs 18:20-21 (GNT) in the ★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gossiping (Part 6) ★ post but I believe it is bears repeating:
“You will have to live with the consequences of everything you say. What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.”
But there is hope; we can start small in turning things around simply by following what Proverbs 15:1 (ESV) says:
I have seen firsthand the difference when I answer softer than I want to. This post has focused a lot on the heavy consequences of Anger and is a little more negative than usual but I think that is indicative of how dangerous it is to give into this destructive emotion. But of course there are many benefits when you resist the temptation. I love what Proverbs 13:3 (NLT) offers:
“Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”
When you control your tongue, you will reap the rewards of a long life! In the moment it may feel good to give full vent to your anger but I think we can all agree that
Amen? If you have grown up with Anger in your home or you are currently bringing it into the lives of those you love, you can break the cycle and the legacy that you leave. But it will take work. I encourage you to pray continually for God to intercede, study the bible for versus of anger (there are a ton), and study everything you can on the topic, the devotional by Carol McLeod would be a great start. I will close with one last quote:
“I can ‘act’ like Jesus without prayer. I can win an Academy Award for smiling sweetly and reciting kind platitudes while my heart is roaring and my mind is vengeful…Jesus does not desire for me to merely act like Him, but He longs for me to be like Him, and there is a decided difference.”
If we call ourselves Christians, then we must actually work to become more like Jesus and not merely pretend! As James 1:22 says:
To that end, Watermark Church in Dallas has a great Marriage Ministry class called re|engage which I shared (16) posts from what I learned a couple years ago, (Click here to read). They had a supplemental lesson on Anger which at the end they gave these questions for reflection. Regardless of whether you are married or not, these are applicable to everyone:
- How is your anger affecting your marriage and relationships with others today?
- What are some beliefs, expectations, or past experiences that might be contributing to your emotions and which lead up to anger?
- Relating to the scripture from James 1:19-20, why does your anger not lead to the righteousness that God desires?
Action Item: Share with your spouse or a trusted friend your desire to yield your anger to God and ask them to pray for you as you begin this process.
I pray that if Anger has a hold on your life, that you will allow God to work on your heart to stop from yielding to this toxic temptation! Change can happen; it did for me and it can for you!
If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:
If you want to go back and read all the posts in the Temptation Series (Click Here)