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Given to Anger

In English, the angry man is called a hothead. In Hebrew, he’s a hotnose. And it’s easy to see why. The ideas of anger and heat are constantly linked throughout the Bible: when anger begins to rise, it is kindled. When good and angry, that angers burns. As a coal catches fire, you know not to touch it when it starts to glow red. This same clue works for faces, too: when someone’s face flushes and their nose gets red, you know to avoid them, because they are hot!

In Proverbs 29:22, we are focusing on sinful and destructive anger, anger that stirs up strife, anger that causes much transgression. The warning here is that this kind of behavior, this pattern or habit of anger displays a character that is the exact opposite of God Himself. It is a mark of God’s glory that He is slow to anger (Ex. 34:6). It is a mark of shame to be a hot-nose, to be known for being quick to get angry.

Proverbs 29:22 points the to both the relationship between a man and anger, and it highlights the results of this relationship. When a man is given to anger, the Bible pictures him as being “married” to wrath. What ought to be an occasional visit becomes a way of life, a defining characteristic, which then overflows into actions that demonstrate the reality and depth of the relationship.

This idea of wrath as a relationship can serve as a test that will help you answer the all-important question that this proverb forces you to ask: am I given to anger? When a man gets married, all his other relationships change. When you marry anger, though, all those relationships change in harmful ways.

First, being given to anger puts an unhealthy distance between you and other godly states of mind. When you choose anger, you are rejecting Lady Wisdom as your bride. When you choose wrath, you are ending your relationship with peace and contentment. Who ever heard of a peaceful angry man?

Second, anger affects your physical relationships. People become more guarded, more careful around you, afraid of your outbursts. Friendships become scarce, and new friendships are hard to come by. Anger is a relationship-killing sin. Being given to anger drives people away.

The results of your relationship with anger are destructive, too. Some sins are branch sins, some sins are root sins. Anger is a root sin, residing deep in the heart, and when it grows, it puts out all sorts of nasty branches: bitterness, harsh words, slander, resentment, lies, violence, murder. Sinful actions result result from giving yourself to anger.

So look at your behavior: do you speak harsh words to your spouse? To your children? To your friends? Does your blood boil when something doesn’t go your way? Do you physically lash out in anger? Have you punched the wall, kicked the cat, smashed something breakable? Have you hit anyone or used your body to express your anger? Such behavior flows out of a raging heart. These are outward marks of being given to anger. If these sins are present in your life, then you are dealing with an angry heart. If this describes you, then it isn’t time for a PR campaign of denial. It’s time for repentance.

Don’t deny your anger; confess your anger to God, and to anyone who has been hurt by your anger. Confess specific instances, and confess anger as a pattern. Sometimes, this will mean reaching way back into a relationship, cleaning out wounds that have been raw and festering for years. You need a cure that roots out anger from the heart. Time alone does not heal hurts caused by anger. Confession and repentance, grace and forgiveness does.

You need a splash of cold gospel water in the face to put out the burning fire in your nose: “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, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Put your anger to death through repentance, and put your faith in Jesus Christ to fix what’s wrong with the world. Anger can’t do it, but love can. Give yourself to Jesus, and above all things, give yourself to love.

Posted on Thursday, November 05, 2015 by CJ Bowen