April 21, 2021 | Proverbs: Anger, Kindness, and Justice
Dear Redeemer Friends,
I was reading a book recently on raising “worry free” girls. The author repeated what I heard so many times from books and counselors-that anger is often a secondary emotion. Typically, anxiety and fear are the primary emotion. It is preferable to feel powerful and angry then powerless and fearful.
What we fear and what we are in awe of is what we were made for… Here again we return to Proverbs 9:10, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Awe of him transforms our anxieties and fears of everything else. He defeated death. Conquered it. Nothing else compares to him. What do you fear? What makes you anxious? These are helpful questions as we explore the Proverbs on anger.
Read through the Proverbs below. The logic is compelling. These encouragements make me want to hold my tongue. They paint a picture of the destruction of anger. I have experienced this destruction. I bet you have too. The proverbs paint another picture of understanding, peace, and even the power to turn away wrath as the benefits when we are able to control our anger, and answer with a soft word. It says we are even better than the “mighty” and more than even one-a strong military leader- who takes a city. Clearly there is great power in controlling our anger. And these pictures also give some indication as to how hard this job is. Taking a city is nothing compared to it!
So where do we even begin in wanting to honor God’s Word in the Proverbs with our struggle with anger? Sometimes we know we are angry over something silly or because we did not get what we want. Other times there is real pain, real hurt, and someone has sinned against us. Surely we can act out in our anger here! Paul tells the Ephesians, “In your anger, do not sin”. Proverbs 22:29 goes so far to tell us, “Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.” We take our cues from Jesus, our Wisdom. We remember that God did not “pay” us back for what we have done to him or treated us as our sins deserved. He showed us grace and mercy, taking the wrath and anger upon Himself, and that has changed us.
Practically, most times when we are angry the amygdala in our brain is firing and telling us to fight, fly, or freeze! Danger! I love how the proverbs talk about being “slow” to anger. One way to do this is to notice our body’s cues that we are getting angry- maybe your heart rate increases or your body tenses up. These would be the moments to pause. Count to 10. Do a breathing exercise. Breathe in slowly, hold it for 3 seconds, then let it out, repeating this three to 4 times. These simple tools can help us apply the proverbs to be slow to anger.
Let’s worship this God together this Sunday who has not treated us like we deserve but given us His very life so we can live.
Jen Sanders, RPC Director of Care and Connection
Proverbs 14:29; 15:1, 18; 16:32; 19:11,19; 22:24; 24:17,18, 28-29; 25:21-22; 30:33
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Good sense makes one slow to anger,
and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,
for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.
Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
nor go with a wrathful man,
lest you learn his ways
and entangle yourself in a snare.
Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause,
and do not deceive with your lips.
29 Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;
I will pay the man back for what he has done.”