Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you. Frederick Buechner
Likely we all have harbored feelings of anger against someone else because of wrongs we perceive they have done, but when their anger is turned toward us our perception of it is totally different. We may fear or we may think about how foolish the angry person appears. Why is anger such a delicious feeling in ourselves and yet so odious coming from others? Solomon, the wisest man on earth said, “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Eccl. 7:9).
Solomon also told us how to defer someone’s anger and turn away the wrath that is causing carnage in our lives. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Prov. 15:1). We know that tempers only escalate when we answer an angry man the same way he has spoken to us. But what if we are right and he is wrong? Does it really matter that we have our way or prove our point if we lose a friend or drive a permanent wedge in family relationships? Can we not rather take wrong in order to make peace and thus please God (1 Cor. 6:7)?
“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression” (Prov. 19:11).
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Prov. 16:32).
In defense of their anger, many will quote Ephesians 4:26-27 and they will say, “See anger is not a sin, as long as I do not let the sun go down on it.” But these people fail to notice that five verses later, we are told to get rid of anger just like we are told to get rid of other evil qualities in our lives. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph. 4:31). Would anyone deny that these are all evil qualities?
Later, in his letter to the church at Colossi, Paul wrote, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:8-10).
Let’s all work to rid ourselves of this very deceitful, sinful emotion which men have taught us to use to get our way.