“A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11
When I was a little girl, my parents would jokingly say that my temper was due to my red hair.
Now that I’m an adult, people are usually surprised to find that I occasionally have a temper. Friends often say that they can’t imagine me being angry.
Little do they know the journey I’ve trekked to get from the fiery little girl to the (usually) calm woman.
It wasn’t until I was married with children that I really started to realize that even infrequent angry outbursts could cause big problems.
I can’t even remember what that argument was about, but I still have the stains on the book spines to remember my fully vented anger. Not proud.
I wish I could say that was my only angry outburst over the years. Sadly, I can’t. But what I can say is that particular situation was a stepping stone to understanding just how detrimental anger could be. God used that ugly moment to confront my sin.
Yes, angry outbursts are sin. (Actually, any anger other than anger directed at wickedness is a sin.) And we Believers aren’t immune. Do I still get angry at times? Sure. But I’m learning to take my frustrations, hurt, impatience, and other feelings to Him before they develop into full-blown anger. I’m learning to hold back.
I’ve heard testimonies of people who were instantly healed of anger when they became a Christian. I love those stories and to see God’s power displayed like that. But for me (and maybe you?), it’s been different. It’s been a gradual process… a slow metamorphosis… and I’m not quite finished yet. I still feel an adrenaline surge when I get frustrated. I still have to bite my tongue (sometimes literally) when I want to use snapping, curt words. I still have to stop and pray and breathe out. Slowly.
It was more than 20 years ago that the Lord used the grape juice incident to open my eyes to see that flares of heated anger are destructive to yourself, others, and are even your physical surroundings. And isn’t that what Satan wants? He comes to kill, steal, and destroy.
But God wants better for us.
The Lord also helped me to see that being angry like that was pure foolishness. I had witnessed the second part of Proverbs 14:1 in action. It was time to choose to find a remedy or continue plucking away at my home and all that my husband and I were working to build.
“The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1
I’m thankful that He’s taught me that He’s the remedy. God forgives me when I repent. He helps me to do better. And He even strengthens me when I feel too weak to do better. He brings scripture to mind, responds when I call out to Him, and allows His peace to flood my heart in place of indignation.
And the sweetest thing? Jesus washes away all my sins. Oh, what grace!
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18
Yes, my encyclopedias are still stained and serve as a physical reminder not to let my anger get the best of me. But you know what? My soul is not stained… Jesus’ blood serves as a spiritual reminder that through His work, I’m white like wool!
He does all of this for me, and He’ll do it for you… because He’s that kind of God– the kind that wants all of His children to look more like His only begotten Son. So, He picks us up when we fail, cleans us up, and helps us to know better, to do better, and He gives us a wise heart so we don’t have to be foolish any longer.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10
How has God helped you deal with anger?