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  • CONTROLYOURANGER

    IntroductionBack in 1952 Mr. Newbold Morris was appointed by the president to a veryimportantpost.Itwashisdutytokeepaclosecheckoncrimeandmismanagementingovernmentaffairs.Ononeoccasion,however,Mr.Morrishimselfwascalledtoappear before a Senate subcommittee to answer questions concerning aninappropriatebusinessdeal.Theinterrogationbecameintenseandemotionsranhigh.Atthepeakofheightenedemotions, just when a roomful of angryMount Versuviuseswere about to erupt,Morris recalled a note his wife had given him thatmorning. He reached into hispocket,pulledout thepieceofpaper,called for theattentionof theassembly,anddeclared, I have an important announcement frommywife, she says, Keep yourshirton!(OurDailyBread,8/24/93)Keepyourshirton!Thisisverygoodcounsel.Itisalsoverybiblicalcounsel.OurnexttopicalstudyfromProverbsdealswiththesubjectofhumananger:Whathappenswhenwelosecontrol?Howshouldwehandlethoseprovokingsituations?Mrs.Morrisadvicetoherhusbandmaywellserveasaguidingthemeforournexttopicalstudy:Keepyourshirton!Controlyouranger.I.ControlYourAnger,andSoSpareYourselffromFoolishBehavior(Proverbs14:17;Proverbs14:29;Proverbs19:19;Proverbs29:22)Aquicktemperedmanwilldofoolishthings(Prov.14:17a)When you lose your temper you also lose your reason and your longrangeperspective.Later,whentheflamesofyourangerhavebeenextinguished,whenyoureturntoyoursenses,youregretfullysurveythedamage:hurtfulwordsthatleavedeepwounds;brokenrelationshipscutoffbydeepandwidechasms;stupiddecisionsthatsometimescanneverbeundone.

    Whenyousurrendertoyourtemper,rememberwhatelseyouaresurrendering:yourreason,your longrangeperspectiveandrememberwhatyouaregettingin exchange: the painful consequences of foolish behavior, some of whichconsequencesmaylastforalifetime.

    Hewho is slow to anger has great understanding, but hewho has a hastyspiritexaltsfolly.(Prov.14:29)If you act impulsively, if you cast off selfrestraint, you are going to exalt folly.That is tosay,youaregoing to liftupandhonor foolish,mischievousandeven

  • evilbehavior.TheHebrewword translated folly (tl6w6a3 or lw3a65)hasnotonlythe meaning, to be silly or stupid, but also has the root meaning, to beperverse.Whenyouactimpulsively,whenyouallowyourselftobecontrolledbyyouranger,youbecomeaslavetofolly.Atyourownexpenseandtoyourshameyouletfollyrule.NotethedirectivewearegiveninRomans6:1214,donotletsinreigninyourmortalbodysothatyouobeyitsevildesires.13Donotoffer thepartsofyourbodytosin,as instrumentsofwickedness,butratherofferyourselvestoGod,asthosewhohavebeenbroughtfromdeathtolife;andoffertheparts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness; 14for sin shall not beyourmaster,becauseyouarenotunderlaw,butundergrace.(Rom.6:1214)

    Amanofgreatwrathshallbearthepenalty,forifyoudeliverhim,youmustdosoagain.(Prov.19:19)

    Whenyou surrender yourself to your temper you arehanding yourself over tothedevilforhisdestructiveuse;butafterwardyoureceivethebillfordamagesdone!Oftentimesyoumustdealwithsuchconsequencesasremorse,regret,guilt,shame,andalienation.Thelatterpartofthisproverbindicatesthatthispatternwillcontinuetorepeatitselfunlessyoudealwith therootcause.Unlessyour temper isharnessedandsurrenderedtothecontrolofChrist,itshallcontinuetorunroughshodwreckinghavoc,nomatterhowmanytimesyourfriendspickupthepiecesanddodamagecontrol. Indeed, unless your temper is harnessed it is inevitable that you shalleventually pay the price for damages donenomatter how often your friendsseektointerveneonyourbehalf.Anangrymanstirsupstrife,andawrathfulmancommitsanabundanceoftransgressions.(Prov.29:22)

    Ifyouapproachavolatilesituationwithanangryspirit,orinsuchasituationyouallowyourangertobeignited,itislikethrowingalitmatchintoapileofkindlingwood.Bywayof illustration:Theneighborssonhasbrokenyourwindowwithhisbaseball,nowyoupayavisittoyourneighborwiththeballinhandandyourtemperrising,whatisgoingtobethelikelyoutcome?ThemessageofProverbsisthatweshouldbeonguardtobeslowtoanger,andtherebyspareourselvesfromfoolishandregretfulbehavior.ConsidertheinsightofProverbs16:32,Hewhoisslowtoangerisgreaterthanthemighty,andhewhocontrolshisspiritisgreaterthanhewhoconquersacity.

  • II.ControlYourAnger,andThusMakeaGodlyResponsetoProvocation(Prov.15:1;Prov.15:18;Prov.16:32;Prov.21:14;Prov.22:2425)

    Acontriteanswerturnsawaywrath;butaharshwordstirsupanger.(Prov.15:1)

    In a highly charged emotional situation, the response that is gentle, kind andcontrite isthekindthatturnsawayrisinganger.TheHebrewtermsometimestranslated a soft answer (]5k1r2) literally means a contrite answer. In otherwords,theadmissionofguiltwhenoneisatfaultandtheseekingofforgivenessfromtheoffendedparty.Whenwrathisstirredupagainstusourfirstreactionistodefendourselvesandjustify ourselves. But if we pause to listen and reflect, we will often timesdiscoverthattherewassomejustcausefortheangerdirectedagainstus.Ifuponmaking such a discovery, we respond with a humble and contrite replyhonestly admitting our fault and expressing our regret and seekingforgivenesswewillbedoingagreatdealtoalleviatethesituationandopenadoorforreconciliation.

    Withregardtothismatter,considerthefollowingpassagesofScripture:

    If it ispossible,as faras itdependsonyou, liveatpeacewitheveryone. (Rom.12:18;) i.e., do all that is within your power to live at peace with yourneighbor.Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutualedification.(Rom.14:19)

    Thereforeconfessyoursinstoeachotherandprayforeachother...(Jam.5:16)

    A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger pacifiescontention.(Prov.15:18)Ifyouexerciseselfcontrolanddemonstrateaquietspirit,youputstrifetorest.Conversely,ifyouallowyourangertobeignited,youcausestrifetoflareupintoanuncontrollableconflagration.ConsiderProverbs15:1618,Itisbettertohavea little with the fear of Jehovah than to have great wealth with turmoil. 17It isbettertohaveamealofvegetableswherethereislovethantofeastonafattenedcalf with hatred. 18A wrathful man stirs up strife; but he who is slow to angerpacifiescontention.NotehowIsaacexemplifiedthisbehavior,thisresponsetoaprovokingsituation:

    IsaacreopenedthewellsthathadbeenduginthedaysofAbrahamhisfather,because thePhilistines hadplugged themupafter the death ofAbraham.Hegavethemthesamenameshisfatherhadgiventhem.19WhenIsaacsservantsweredigginginthevalleytheydiscoveredthereasourceofspringwater.20But

  • the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaacs herdsmen, saying, The waterbelongs to us. So Isaac named the well, Esek [Contention], because theycontended with him. 21Then they dug another well, and they quarreled overthatonealso.SohenameditSitnah[Enmity].22Hemovedonfromthereanddugyetanotherwell.Andtheydidnotcontendforit.SohenameditRehoboth[Roomforus],declaring,NowJehovahhasmaderoomforusandweshallbefruitfulintheland.(Gen.26:1822)

    RatherthanstrivewiththeherdsmenofGeraroverpossessionofthewells,Isaacmovedonanddug forwaterelsewhere.Whywasheable tobeso forbearing?The answer lies in the experience Isaac had earlier in his life, the incidentdescribed in Genesis 22 where he became the willing sacrifice laid upon thealtar:

    AfterthesethingsGodtestedAbraham.Hesaidtohim,Abraham.AndAbrahamreplied,Heream I. 2AndGod said,Now take your son, your only son, the sonwhomyoulove,Isaac,andgotothelandofMoriah.OfferhimthereasaburntofferingupononeofthemountainsofwhichIwilltellyou9Thentheycametothe place of which God had told him. There Abraham built the altar, andarranged thewoodupon it.Thenhebound Isaachis sonand laidhimon thealtarontopof thewood. 10ThenAbrahamreachedouthishandandtooktheknifetoslayhisson.(Gen.22:12,910)

    OnceyouhavegivenupyourlifeuntoGod,itbecomessomucheasiertogiveupanythingelse.Onceyouhavediedtotheworld,youtendtolookatthethingsofthe world in a new light and from a different perspective. Once you haveexperiencedGodsfaithfulness,youhavegreaterconfidenceinHispromisesanda greater conviction that you can trustHim to take care of you,meet all yourneeds,andeventuallygranttoyouthefullnessofHispromisedblessing.Ratherthan strivewith theherdsmenofGerar, Isaac trusted in theLORD to fulfillHispromise in His time and in His way, note Genesis 13:1415, Jehovah said toAbram, Now liftupyoureyes fromtheplacewhereyouareand looknorthwardandsouthwardandeastwardandwestward;15becauseIwillgivetoyouandtoyourdescendantsforeverallthelandthatyousee.

    Note: The example of Isaacs forbearance does not necessarily mean that aChristianmaynever standup forhis rights, aswe see in the caseofAbrahamrecordedinGenesis21:25,ThenAbrahamcomplainedtoAbimelechaboutawellofwaterthatAbimelechsservantshadseized.

    Hewhoisslowtoangerisgreaterthanthemighty,andhewhocontrolshisspiritisgreaterthanhewhoconquersacity.(Prov.16:32)Thestoryistoldthatthereasonthegreatbaseballplayer,BabeRuth,wascalledTheBabewasbecausehenevergrewuphenever learned to exercise selfcontrol, he never attained emotional, spiritual and moral maturity; he everremainedTheBabe.

  • In our selfdirected, selfcentered culture, people are no longer required togrowup;ratherthanprogresstowardmaturity,theyareencouragedtoregressback to infancyone prime example of this is the counsel of psychology JohnBradshaw:

    Bradshaw insists, weareall infantswithneeds.And thoseneedsmustbemet,evenifthatmeansreturningtothewomb.AsrecipientsofBradshawstreatment,grownmenandwomensitaroundholdingteddybears,listeningtomaternalheartbeats,whileBradshawurges them to imagine themselvesbackinthewombandasinfants.Saint Paul may have put aside the thoughts of a child when he reachedmanhood;Bradshawwantstoreversetheprocess.Rather than seeing maturity as a cure for the endless demands andfrustrationsoftheinnerchild,guruslikeBradshawproclaimthenecessityofturninginwardandbackwardintotheabsolutismofthemythicalandperfectwomblife.(ANationofVictims,CharlesJSykes,pp.142143)

    NotethatinProverbs16:32theonewhoisslowtoangerisfurtherdescribedasthe one who controls his spirit. In other words, being slow to anger

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