PROVERBS - Adventure In Anger Management 1
By Pastor Delbert Young
Life Gate Ministries, January 31, 2010
204 North Main Street, LaFayette, GA 30728
We are talking about PROVERBS: An Adventure in Wisdom. We are seeing that the Book of Proverbs is easily opened and understood when we see decisions in life are either a pursuit of Lady Wisdom or a seduction by the Whore Folly. Today and next time, I want to talk about the Adventure in Anger Management. I believe wisdom about anger is important enough for two lessons. So, let's begin.
Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives FULL VENT TO HIS ANGER, but a wise man keeps himself UNDER CONTROL.
How many of us have, at some point in life, been seduced by the Whore Folly concerning anger? Have you ever gone "full vent" on someone or something! When that happens you say, "I lost my temper." What does that mean? It means you lost control of yourself. You lost control of what you should be in control. In other words, you went mad!
How many saw the move Old Yeller? It's a 1957 Disney movie and one of my all times favorite movies about a mixed breed yellow dog named Yeller (Yellow). Yeller was a stray who became part of the Coates family protecting and loving everyone. You can't help but fall in love with the heroic dog. However, one night a wolf with rabies attacks. Yeller defends the family but is bitten by the wolf developing rabies and becoming "mad." Yeller has to be put down (shot) and I cried like a baby. My point is what a picture of anger being vented is a rabid Old Yeller. The wolf of anger bites us and we go mad. We lose it. We snarl and bite those we love most and love us. We foam out vile words. We do crazy things. The bite of anger can turn the most loving and kind person into a foaming, rabid animal. Maybe if we could hold onto that rabid image the next time we are bitten by anger, it will help us manage our anger much better.
People do the craziest things when they lose their temper. We've all seen a toddler throw a temper tantrum. They hurl themselves to the ground, kick their legs, scream at the top of their lungs, and beat their hands and arms on the floor. When you see that happen, you think the toddler's gone mad. Did someone need to teach the toddler to become angry, vent, go mad?
Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
We are born with that stuff in us. I've seen an infant become so mad they shook and screamed. We don't have to be taught anger. How about a high school student losing his temper? I remember watching a friend actually break his hand hitting his locker with his fist when his girlfriend broke up with him. He was mad! How about when a mom loses her temper with her little children? Pots and dishes can fly, profanity spews, and little kids get screamed at for doing the things little kids do. At that moment the mother doesn't care that she could be damaging her children because she's mad!
Probably the most frightening of all is when a grown man loses his temper. You never know what he might do. It can range from household destruction to automobile abuse. It can be mild profanity or the "G D" language that causes everybody to find shelter. It can lead to spousal abuse and child abuse. You would swear he had gone completely mad! We hear about someone going mad every day on the news bringing anything from physical violence to murder. Today, in the English language, we use the word "mad" more frequently than we use the word "angry." "Mad" speaks of the total loss of control and mind, i.e. a mad dog. We even say, "I was mad." Sadly, that's often accurate. We've lost it. We fully vented and we became a fool seduced by the Whore Folly.
It's interesting how the Bible goes to great lengths to keep those the two concepts of anger and madness separate. By mad, I mean anger that leads to sin.
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.
(NLT) Ephesians 4:26-27 And "don't sin BY LETTING ANGER GAIN CONTROL OVER YOU." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.
"Be ye angry"? Is the Bible encouraging us to "be angry"? The answer is "yes" if anger is managed correctly. Anger, when correctly managed, will produce good results. Did the Lord God ever become angry? Of course he did. The Old Testament has over a hundred references to the Lord's anger. I'll read one showing he manages his anger.
Exodus 34:6-7 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, SLOW TO ANGER, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished...
We are glad he is slow to anger, but he did frequently become angry.How about Jesus? Did he ever become angry? Remember cleansing the temple? He made a whip, drove out moneychangers, overturned tables, etc. I'll give you another time as well.
Mark 3:5 He looked around at them IN ANGER AND, DEEPLY DISTRESSED at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
The point is, it's not "ungodly" to be ye angry. It is ungodly and even demonic to move into madness/sin. Wisdom is telling us that anger and madness are not in the same dynamic. When anger becomes madness, we have entered a place where we've lost control, the devil's taken control, and bad things are happening. Wisdom says there's a way to be angry and express that emotion without sinning and destruction. You can be angry and not sin by managing the emotion of anger.
As we all know, it's not easy to manage the emotion of anger, but when we do, it makes us better.
Proverbs 16:32 BETTER A PATIENT MAN than a warrior, a man who CONTROLS HIS TEMPER than one who takes a city.
(Amp) Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is BETTER THAN the mighty, he who RULES HIS [OWN] SPIRIT than he who takes a city.
We rise above others and the situation when we manage the emotion of anger. We are BETTER THAN. Wisdom tells us it takes more courage and control to win the battle raging in our emotional world than courage to fight a war. It takes more courage to face and control our own selves than to face what we believe at the moment to be our worst enemy. A man will charge head long into a fistfight, but coward down when he needs to get, say, marital counseling (use any counseling), and deal with himself. If he or she will, they are BETTER for it. BETTER THAN - is the person who controls his own temper than a person who will run headlong into a fight.
Anyone lost their temper lately? Maybe you got upset with your spouse, or child, or boss? How about a little road rage when someone cut you off in traffic or was going slower in the left lane than you thought they should go?
What is this thing called anger? Psychologists say it's our most baffling emotion. Happiness and sadness are easily understood, but anger is different. In an article called Psychoz, I read, "While therapists appear to be comfortable with emotions such as grief, sadness, anxiety, fear, disappointment, shame and guilt, the one emotion they perhaps experience most discomfort with is anger." In the book Exploring Your Anger, Friend or Foe? we read, "The sensations we experience associated with the triggers of anger are important keys to unlocking the mystery of anger."
Those who study the psyche say anger is mysterious and complex. Think about it. Why do some of the most insignificant things trigger some of us to violently erupt while some of life's most awful events seem to not upset us at all? Is how we respond in anger genetic, from an early childhood experience, or is it the luck of the draw? Anger gets complicated. What determines the length of our fuse? Why do some have very short fuses and others a very long fuse? Why do some people turn anger inward while others spew it all over anyone around? Anger/madness truly is complex and mysterious.
We learn important things about anger from God's word. (1) We are created in God's image and likeness, so he designed us with the ability to become angry. As we've seen, God himself gets angry. So, anger, in its purest form is from God, but (2) it's a righteous anger (I didn't say "self-righteous"). God has righteous anger and the "be ye angry" anger is intended to cause us to do the right things in life. Some of the best decisions you or I have made in life came because something angered us so much we said, "That's it! I'm done with that." I will never forget a day over thirty years ago when I was writing checks to pay our bills. I got so angry. I slammed my fist on my desk and declared, "That's it! I am getting out of debt," and within two years, we were. People will finally get so angry at an addiction they say, "That's it! Enough! This thing will not rule me ever again." Anger should move us forward, not backward. Anger, when managed correctly, will bring good and right (righteous) things.
Proverbs 11:23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
Anger when managed ends only in good. If not managed, it ends only in more wrath and madness. The bottom line is do we manage anger, or do we allow anger to turn into madness and manage us? Will we manage it allowing it to bring "right" things, or allow the devil to take over and bring destructive things? Wisdom says if you want a life that works, you must manage anger. The Whore Folly says let your madness fully vent and come to ruin.
How do most people handle anger? There are two broad categories: (1) bottle it up, or (2) spew it out. If you are sitting next to someone you know well, lean over and whisper to them which of these they do. Say, "You're a bottler," or "You're a spewer." Go ahead. It's pretty safe in here, but if you're next to a spewer, maybe you need to be ready to duck.
Let's look at the "bottler." These are people who respond to the let downs and aggravating things of life by denying to others and themselves they are actually mad. They shove their madness into the closets of their consciousness pushing it down. They pretend to hydroplane above anger. Because they are uncomfortable with what's happening, they pretend it doesn't exist. However, turning anger inward and burying it is like burying toxic waste thinking it's gone. Years later, we find the toxic waste leaked, seeped into, and contaminated everyone's drinking water. Because it was just buried, serious illness is everywhere and bottled up anger always leaks. You are no exception. One day, you will physically and mentally pay the price. It will bring headaches, stomach problems, sleep disorders, and all kind of problems. You will develop attitude problems being irritable, short tempered, cynical, etc. Someone asks, "What's wrong?" "Nothing is wrong." All the time they are saying "I'm not angry," underground anger is poisoning the water table of their life. Bottling anger is a dangerous solution to managing anger.
The rest of us tend to spew out anger. We let it fly. We vent. When these people get angry, they curse people, they curse God, slam doors, and kick little dogs. They vomit madness all over everyone. They don't care who sees or hears them. When it's all done, they don't take the time to figure out the true root cause of what they just did. So, they go back through the cycle again and again.
Proverbs 19:19 A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, YOU WILL HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN.
It becomes a cycle. The fisting of walls, yelling at people, kicking the dog does nothing to release or manage the anger. They say, "I'm getting it out." No they are not. In fact, it does the very opposite. Next time the cycle will come sooner and they will express more rage. If not managed, it always becomes worse and happens again and again. They do damage to those who love them and become themselves an increasingly raging person.
Proverbs 22:24-25 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and GET YOURSELF ENSNARED.
Wisdom says spewers are not good people to be around. You will become trapped by rage becoming a hot-tempered person yourself. Ever seen a little boy emulate his dad's anger? I told you about a time when Lance, only a toddler, observed me cussing and beating on a car because something I was working on did not go well. Lance, maybe four years old, was cussing and beating his tricycle emulating me. Spewers are not good to be around.
So, if bottling and pushing it down doesn't work and spewing it out doesn't work, then what do we do with anger when anger, though uninvited, comes into our lives? Wisdom says we must manage it. We must express anger constructively to bring forth the best decisions we can make. If I can learn to manage my anger it will make me wiser and will make me better than. I won't be a fool seduced by the Whore Folly. I will be a wise person.
That's all I'm going to cover today. Next time I will tell you one of my personal anger stories. Sadly, there's been too many, but in this one, I was bitten by the rabid wolf anger. I went mad, but allowed the anger to work something good and righteous. Next time, we will talk about the dynamics of anger management when in the middle of it.
Today, you need to identify if you are a "bottler" or a "spewer." Have you shoved the toxics down inside and are now experiencing a poisoned water system? Are you physically sick and or mentally cynical? Have you, like me, vented anger way too much making a fool of yourself and damaged innocent people? Realize neither the "bottler" or "spewer" is the way to manage anger. Begin to deal with your anger. Anger, when managed, will bring forth some of the best decisions you will ever make.