It happened again. Today, while driving in traffic, an angry motorist who had been following me veered radically into the lane to my right and passed me while burning half a tank of expensive fuel. He was young and I must admit, a very talented driver. He was able to accelerate, change lanes without signaling, roll down his window, give me a one-finger salute and shoot a look that could not be interpreted as friendly in any culture. Then, as he passed me, he performed a rapid lane change just in front of my bumper – sans turn signal. Then, with great concentration he was able to rapidly decelerate leaving just a trace of skid mark on the pavement as he did his best to avoid a rear-end collision with the vehicle that I had been following. A vehicle, I might add, which he could not see from his inferior vantage point behind my truck. The surprise of finding that there was another vehicle ahead of me (imagine that!) would have cooled down the anger of a lesser man, but not so with this young man. He rode his brakes and craned his neck then impatiently shot around the other guy about as fast as he had with me. He was pretty good at that one-finger wave thing, because he gave it to the other guy. I guess the more you do something, the more natural it becomes.
We see outbursts of anger all the time. No doubt, most angry outbursts are short-lived and dissipate without leading to more serious issues. But uncontrolled anger, even if it only lasts for a few seconds, can ruin a life. We’ve all seen temper tantrums that got out of hand and turned to something ugly within the space of a few seconds. Divorce courts are fueled every day by immature individuals whose anger has destroyed their love and their lives. Prisons are filled with inmates who failed to control their anger and now spend their days thinking “if only I had done things differently.”
Solomon gave wise counsel to young people when he wrote, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Prov. 16:32). We tend to think of anger in terms of temperament. Some folks are just naturally born with an easygoing spirit and are seldom riled while others are predisposed to angry outbursts. Those who are easily angered shrug it off as being a genetic thing beyond their control. But Solomon counsels that we should all be slow to anger. Doesn’t that suggest that we can control it? And James writes, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19,20).
Both passages argue for the ability and the necessity to be in control of anger. Anger itself is not necessarily sinful, but Paul teaches that uncontrolled anger is always sinful. Furthermore, he shows us that uncontrolled anger is also nurtured. BE ANGRY, AND YET DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Eph. 4:26).
Are you able to control your anger? Can your friends talk you down? Do you call it anger in others, but dismiss it as being passionate when it’s your problem? When you are dealing with angry emotions, could the Lord calm you down? Cain was so angry that he would not even listen to God! When God told him that sin was before him and intended to destroy him, Cain didn’t heed the warning and did not master his emotions (Gen. 4:5-7).
You know you have a problem with anger when the thing that has angered you cannot be dismissed. Solomon wrote, “For the churning of milk produces butter, And pressing the nose brings forth blood; So the churning of anger produces strife” (Prov. 30:33). It is hard sometimes to let things go. But for anyone who has ever churned butter, you know that it takes a lot of energy. Arms get tired long before the butter is churned. And it is equally exhausting to keep your spirit stirred up. More often than not, we let ourselves get worked up over things and then are forced to slam on the brakes before our temper causes unwanted damage. FM 518 isn’t the only place where road rage occurs. The road of life is often occupied by those consumed with a destructive rage.
Keep studying !
DC Brown ©2012