By Pat Higgins
Do you know haw to be angry? Most folks do not, you know. Or, more specifically, we do not know how to be angry and “sin not.” Anger, as an emotion, is as much a part of man as is love and fear. It is unrestrained, uncontrolled anger that becomes sinful. Too often we allow anger to control our minds and tongues, and we wind up doing and saying things that are hurtful and unkind.
Sometimes the occasion of the anger and the victim of the vituperative tongue are far removed. For example, Jane has been wrestling with the children all day, the washing machine overflowed, the dog dug holes in the front yard, and she is angry with the world. Enter the unsuspecting husband at 5:30 p.m. Before he can get the door closed, she hits him with every exaggerated “you always” and “you never” that could possibly be exhumed and brought to mind, with a few “don’t you ever’s” thrown in for good measure. He just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time.
Unfortunately, it is those we love the most upon whom we feel free to vent our anger by an out-of-control barrage of lethal verbiage. We do maintain enough clarity to know we could not as easily get by with it elsewhere; e.g., would you as readily tell your boss off as you would your wife? Probably not. Which seems to indicate the possibility of control or restraint when there is reasonable cause.
Words picked at random and hurled with anger are usually unreasonable and unfair. They are indicative of an emotion that is overflowing from an individual who maintains no rule over his own spirit (Prov. 27:4; 25:28).
As mentioned, we more often take advantage of loved ones, but occasionally this anger is exposed to brethren, and worse yet, to unbelievers. Such is damaging to a Christian’s influence; he who cannot control his anger and his tongue cannot present a picture of temperance and godly living to the world.
The Apostle Paul wrote that anger is a work of the flesh and should be laid aside, cast off, as you would remove and throw away an old filthy garment (Gal. 5:20; Col. 3:8). Anger is classed along with doubting as that which will interfere with a man’s prayers (Jas. 1:6) 1 Tim. 2:8).
Uncontrolled anger always has a negative effect on people, even when the angry one is correct in his position. Solomon knew this and said, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1). What is he saying? The import is this: To a great extent we can manipulate (I use this word in the sense of “managing or utilizing skillfully”-Webster) or influence the response of a person in a given situation. Is this not a great power within our hands? Is this not a great responsibility? Think about it. . . the manner in which I address a man can help determine his response to the truth. It is a sobering thought.
Shall I lose my inheritance in the kingdom of God because of my anger? Shall I contribute to the loss of someone else’s soul because of my angry words? God forbid.
Truth Magazine XXII: 37, p. 603
September 21, 1978