“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” –Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)
I don’t like confrontation. Who does? It’s necessary though and unavoidable. If we try to avoid it, we give way to a growth in our heart that ends up eating us alive: bitterness.
How often to we just let go of our anger and vent fully to those nearest to us? Sometimes I come home to my wife and just unleash on her all the stuff that went wrong, obviously myself very upset about it. The evening gets ruined or the attitude in the house changes to a negative spirit. I understand the need to vent some things, but in rage?
I really like Proverbs. Sometimes the stuff that has been put together in a sentence makes a chuckle a little. Kind of like this verse that I read this morning, “A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.” No kidding! I’m not sure, though, about the correlation between the two, but both statements make sense. It’s just a little interesting how he talks about wisdom making dad joyful and then quickly shifts the subject to going broke because the son decided to be “prostitute happy.”
But this verse above really spoke out to me today and I’m reminded of some other Scriptures that have to do with this. I’ve always had some issues about getting angry about something. Some may not know it because I try my best to maintain self-control in public. But for some faulty reason, I actually believe it’s okay to animatedly vent the anger to my spouse. Let me share that other verse with you:
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” –James 1:19-21
How can this rage accomplish anything God desires? How can I please the Lord with this kind of stuff? Venting the rage within comes from the knowledge deep down that my comfort, my pursuit has been offended or interrupted. The vent comes from the selfishness within me without taking others into the equation. Proverbs clearly tells me that I’ve become a fool to vent my rage. Wisdom is found in the understanding that life isn’t all about us but about God and others.
Then comes the real question: since when did my life really ever revolve completely around me? If my pursuit is God, then my life centers around Him. He is the center. If He’s the center, I’m not. What God desires cannot be accomplished through my anger. And that’s why we get rid of the evil, the darkness within us that pulls us back from pleasing Him. The only way to do that is to accept that grace, the word of God planted within us that can save us.
Then there’s that other section in the Bible that really makes it very clear as to what God expects.
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” –Galatians 5:14-25 (NIV) [emphasis added]
This passage speaks volumes to me and helps me clarify even more in my life that is and isn’t of God. It’s clear. These things that God is not pleased with that we do every day show us our need for Him to save us! It also spells out what God brings through us. If my anger doesn’t bring about the kind of life God desires of me, these are the things that he expects in its place. Peace, love, kindness… Where does rage fit in with peace? Where does my anger fit in with love?
Awareness of the one command to “Love others as we love ourselves” helps keep us in line with what God desires of us. And the one command is exactly what He desires. Keeping others in mind will help keep the fits of rage away. Losing site of the “neighbor” opens the door for the flesh to reign in that moment and cause destruction. We must realize what’s at stake! Not only does it destroy the neighbor and our reputation and witness, but habit of rage keeps us from the kingdom. That’s what hurts the most. That’s the ultimate factor at stake.
Lord, thank You for Your grace! Thank You for the Word planted in me to save me! Remove the filth in my heart that seeks to satisfy me so that I can produce the righteousness you desire, the fruit of the Spirit. Help me to be quick to listen with the two ears you gave me, and slow to speak with the one mouth you gave me. Give me strength to think of others first, to love them as much as I love myself, to bring calm in the end.