Speaking to the Soul – March 17

Control your anger

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. Proverbs 29:11

I love the down-to-earth realism of the Bible. It meets us where we are and engages in the sharp reality of our lives. Here the writer seems to assume that we all get angry from time to time – that’s probably a very wise assumption. No doubt we all have very different anger thresholds. Some people very rarely get angry, and others can get steamed up about the most minor issues. Wherever you are on the scale, we all need to know what to do with our anger. The writer of Proverbs, in his typically blunt way, declares that fools let it all out, and wise people quietly hold it back.

Valuable and wise as the book of Proverbs is, his short, pithy sayings need unpacking. It would, for example, be a mistake to lump all anger together. Some anger is good. We often hear about God’s anger. In his holiness, he gets incredibly angry about sin. Isaiah wrote of the day when God would reveal his “fury and fierce anger” (Isaiah 13:9). Jesus expressed anger at the way in which the temple was being overrun by money changers and people selling animals and birds for sacrifice. There is clearly a place for righteous anger and the Bible offers us many illustrations
of it.

But anger is often completely unrighteous. We may be angry because we have failed to get our own way, or we didn’t like the way someone spoke to us. The apostle Paul was clearly aware of the issue of anger when he wrote: “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). This is extremely wise advice. The greatest danger is that we allow our anger to carry on unchecked. And let’s be clear, that can so easily happen. Anger is sometimes allowed to grow for months or even years and it starts to define a person’s life. Knowing how to control anger is crucial for all of us and so we all need to seek God’s strength and wisdom to do so.

How do you control your anger?
Lord God, thank you that you understand me completely. I invite you to help me to control my anger. Amen