Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Proverbs 29:22 Adjust the vent, Part I

An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.

You're probably looking at that title and the photo, and comparing it with the verse, and thinking to yourself, "Snoodles is off her crumpet again." But hang in there with me, and maybe it will make sense in the end!

Everyday in the news there are people saying and doing controversial things. In His day, Jesus said and did controversial things, as well. One of those was when He told His listeners about anger, and how it could be a form of murder:
"You’ve heard that it was said, "Thou shalt not murder," and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment" (Matthew 5:21-22)
Jesus was telling us that murder may be the fruit, or end result, but the root of the problem is anger. And although not every fit of anger results in violent acts, every violence can be traced back to the root cause of anger. OK, now, it's easy enough to have head knowledge of this, but how can we actually root it out of our lives?  You see, everyone has anger -- it is a human emotion. Even Jesus got angry.  We need to figure out how to deal with our anger in a way that honors God. Tall order, no?  Yes!
Let's look first at what anger does to us. We've said it's simply an emotion, and that all humans get angry at times. It's what we do with that anger (how we express it) that determines whether we are handling it wisely or not. Let's talk about uncontrolled anger . . . why uncontrolled? Check out those Hebrew words:
The second word in the verse, translated "angry" is actually an extremely descriptive word in the Hebrew language. It's very graphic -- it pictures a person's nostrils flaring. This word is describing more than just mild irritation; it's red hot anger. It's the kind of wild-eyed-fists-clenched-veins-distended-clenched-teeth kind of anger that is totally out of control.
The second half of the verse describes a "hot tempered" person. This language is every bit as picturesque, though we may not find the picture appealing. The word literally means "full of poison" or full of venom. Wow! Like a snake, with sharp fangs ready to dispense lethal venom, the hot tempered person is full of poison and it's ready to spill out. Some venom can induce blindness, and indeed, anger can blind us to the sin we are headed into.
Uncontrolled anger, then, leads us into sin.
Ever heard someone describe themselves as "boiling over"? Yep, our emotions can boil over, and just like trying to get a lid on a fiercely boiling pot, or a petcock on a pressure cooker, it's hard to stop once anger is stirred up.
Are we a victim when our anger is stirred up? Not all the time. Yes, there are times when our feelings are hurt, and we are angry. We feel we've not been treated well, and we get mad. We feel helpless about situations in our life -- here comes that anger.
Sometimes, though, our anger is stirred up by our dwelling on that person who hurt our feelings. We hang out with our friends who commiserate with us, and agree that we were not treated well. We rehearse the scene over and over, and get more and more angry. Natural? Yes.  A godly attitude?  No.
Lots of things can happen when that anger is stirred up --- we can commit sins that we never would have considered had we not been blinded by rage. We can harm interpersonal relationships in ways that we will regret for years. We can say reckless, hurtful things. 
Back to our vent up there in the photo. You know how the air rushes out when the fan is on high and the vent is wide open? Whoosh! Whether hot or cold, it's full-blast, extremely forceful, isn't it? That is how our anger is, when it is uncontrolled . . . like the air coming from the wide-open vent, there is nothing to stop it, nothing to temper or control it.
Tomorrow let's look at ways that we can "adjust the vent" and control our anger, and deal with it wisely.


CATachresis said...

I would never say Snoodles is off her crumpet! lol

Hebrew is a very descriptive and varied language and has nuances of meaning we don't in English. Trying not to show extreme emotion is difficult for us mere mortals, but I guess the more time we spend in the company of the king of kings the more we will become like Him.

In my own experience of anger I have felt that the anger is fuelled by fear mostly. The Lord displayed righteous anger. I am not sure I have ever done that! Thought provoking post. Thanks x

Belinda said...

No, no righteous anger for me. Ha. It's always totally UN-righteous. And it only takes one word to start something like this. We MUST be careful how we respond even when we are angry or hurt. It's sooo haaarrrdd!!