Restrained Anger

“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” Ecclesiastes 7:9 (KJV) Anger is not easily controlled. It is an exceptional individual who can control his anger. Anger is a raging fire that can burn out of control and cause much sorrow. How many things have been said in anger or actions taken in anger which have caused hurt and pain not only to the recipient of the anger, but also to the one spewing the anger. The Message Bible translates that as “Don’t be quick to fly off the handle. Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head”
The Preacher, in Ecclesiastes, is warning us to not be hasty in getting angry. He wants us to think before we speak or take action. James follows up on that theme, “Wherefore, my beloved brthren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20. Listen carefully, digest what is said, look at what is said in the light most favorable to the speaker. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Make sure what was said is what was heard and not what our filter caused us to hear. What is our filter? It can be anything that is within us that is a preconceived notion of what people think about us. It can be our race, our sex, our financial standing, the church we go to, where we live or anything else that causes us to thing other people do not care for us. That filter then is used to distort what is said. That is why we must hear what is said, not what we believe is said or what we believe is meant by what is said. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Proverbs 18:13. If we are slow to speak in follow up to what was said, we have time to truly reflect on what was said, not what we thought was said.
Therefore, by being slow to speak we will also be slow to wrath. Our anger will not flare up if we wait to make sure of what was said. Anger is best served hot and therefore, if we let it cool down, it may not be anger at all. The devil wants us to be angry. Why? Like James said, “the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God.” If we are angry, we cannot work the righteousness of God in that situation or in any situation that will follow our outburst. Proverbs give great advice about ordering our conversation aright, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1. If we choose to respond in moderation, it will bring about moderation. Better to make our words such that would win over a brother, than to drive him away.
We can be angry for the right things. God was angry many times. We must have a righteous cause in order to have justified anger. Jesus said “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:…” Matthew 5:22. We must have a lawful cause to be angry. Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Paul agrees, it is OK to be angry, if we have a right cause, but even in our anger, we must keep our temper under strict spiritual control, otherwise, we sin and give place to the devil in our life and the life of the one against whom we are sinning. If we have justified anger, we need to keep it under control so as not to sin. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Proverbs 16:32.

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