Proverbs 15:18 “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: But he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”
Proverbs has quite a bit to say about anger and wrath. The emotion of anger is one that was designed to cause us to rise in defense of that which is good and holy. It is a reflection of God’s righteous anger and wrath again sin.
Unfortunately, most of our anger is not righteous. Because our hearts are sinful and selfish, most of our anger is sinful and selfish. We usually are angry when others don’t treat us the way we think we should be treated, and we usually express our anger in sinful ways.
It is possible to ‘Be angry and sin not’…to not let ‘the sun go down upon [our] wrath’ (Eph 4:26), but we must be filled with the Spirit in order to have this type of anger. Clearly, anger is an area where we need the Lord to help us. Notice some wisdom from Proverbs about anger.
1. Anger often reveals foolish pride.
- Proverbs 12:15–16 says, ‘The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: But he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. A fool’s wrath is presently known: But a prudent man covereth shame.’
- Here we learn that the fool’s wrath comes as a result of being told he is doing the wrong thing. Instead of listening to counsel and hiding his shame of being corrected, the fool gets angry.
- How often do we get angry simply because we are embarrassed and prideful? We blame others, but really we are the ones to blame. Our anger reveals how foolish we are.
2. Quickness to anger leads to many foolish and sinful words and actions.
- Proverbs 14:16–17 says “A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: But the fool rageth, and is confident. He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: And a man of wicked devices is hated.”
- The wise man is afraid of anger and what it leads to. He will seek to diffuse his anger so as to depart from evil. The fool on the other hand rages (flares up, lashes out) in his confidence. This quick anger will lead to foolish and sinful words and actions.
- Righteous anger is always ‘slow anger’. It is anger that forms over time after carefully considering the facts, the justice/injustice, and then seeks to act in a way that is righteous rather than impulsive. God is slow to anger (Ps 103:8, 145:8, Nah 1:3).
- We are told in James 1:19 to be “…swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”
- Others Proverbs talks about the benefits of being slow to anger:
- Proverbs 14:29 “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: But he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”
- Proverbs 15:18 “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: But he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”
- Proverbs 16:32 says “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; And he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”
- So a quick tip for identifying wrong anger is to ask ourselves how quick did we get angry? Why are we angry? Is it a result of carefully considering all the facts? Or is it because our ‘rights’ have been violated or we have not been treated the way we want?
3. Quick, prideful anger is very damaging to us and to others.
- Proverbs 19:19 says “A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: For if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again.”
- Proverbs 29:22 says “An angry man stirreth up strife, And a furious man aboundeth in transgression.”
- The person who has a problem with anger and wrath will find himself punished. Anger is often the cause of broken relationships, violence, hurtful words, and many other ‘punishments. And what is sad is that a ‘man of great wrath’ will often fall right back into the same angry sin patterns. Even if he is delivered, he must be helped over and over again.
- That is why we are warned about close friendships with really angry people. Those who are friends will angry people should be careful because anger that boils over will often scald those who are close by.
- A good reason to begin dealing with our anger is simply to avoid all the pain it causes us and damage it does to others.
4. The solution to angry wrath is wisdom and humility.
- The real source of sinful anger and wrath is pride and a sinful heart. Anger and wrath are actually fruits of what is rooted in our hearts. To really deal with anger, we must deal with our hearts. We must allow God’s Word and God’s Holy Spirit to root out the pride in our hearts that is causing all this wrong anger.
- Proverbs 19:11 says “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; And it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” This man has discretion (understanding, wisdom) in his heart, so instead of giving in to his anger, he defers anger and even overlooks transgressions against him. He trusts the Lord, knowing that the Lord will deal with sinners. He realises that he has many times sinned against God and been forgiven. He believes that retaliation and revenge are not the way forward.
- Proverbs 21:24 says “Proud and haughty scorner is his name, Who dealeth in proud wrath.” Here we see ‘proud wrath’ is dealt with by a proud and haughty scorner. Most of our wrath is the result of pride, of haughtiness (thinking we are better than others) and of scorning (not listening). So, we must humbly repent of our pride, of our self-centredness, and of our unwillingness to listen.
Don’t be a Fool!
- Proverbs 27:3 says “A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; But a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.”
- Don’t be a fool. Don’t accept the lie that anger is the right way, that your anger is justified, that your anger cannot be controlled.
- Your anger may be weighing you down like a weight that is heavier than a stone or sand, but God has given You His word and His Spirit that can instil wisdom in You.
- As we humbly grow in wisdom, God will help us with many areas of our life, including our anger. And if you find you are angry often, then let that be a reminder that you need God’s wisdom and God’s strength in your heart.