PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER
“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” – Matthew 5:22 ESV
I have this memory lodged in my head of a time playing basketball when I acted like a complete jerk. It was an evening-time game, and just a few minutes into the first quarter, I realized it would be a long night. I wasn’t a fan of the referee calling our game, nor was I fond of the team we were playing.
After a few sequences up-and-down the court, I decided to drive the ball in for a layup, and on the way up, I got bumped, thinking surely the ref would call a foul. But after hearing no whistle, I gave the ref a dirty look and could sense my anger rising. Finally, I said a comment to the ref that landed me a technical foul. My coach tried to calm me down, but I was already off the edge. I made one more negative statement, and the ref ejected me from the game. I still remember sitting there on the bench, upset, with a bad attitude, blaming everyone else for my mistakes.
And what were my mistakes, might you ask?
The immediate answer is allowing my anger to control me rather than the other way around. Anger is a tricky emotion because, on the one hand, there is such a thing as righteous anger, where we get angry about the things that anger our Lord. And yet, on the other hand, we learn from David’s words in Psalm 37:8, writing: “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8 ESV)
Regardless of where you are on this topic, I would encourage you to lean into the words of James, the brother of Jesus, and Solomon, son of David, in Proverbs 14. View the two Scriptures below:
- “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” – James 1:19-20 ESV
- “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” – Proverbs 14:29 ESV
These two verses declare, from the Old Testament to the New, that it’s wise to be slow to anger. And unfortunately, I’ve found that when we are quick to anger, we typically say something or do something we regret. And not only do we regret it personally, but those around us are also affected.
To draw back to my basketball example above, I’m still bothered by how I let my teammates and coach down in that situation. I not only embarrassed myself, but I embarrassed my team. Anger will not only let you down but also embarrass you along the way. Benjamin Franklin, the Founding Father of the United States, once stated: “Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.” So, today take time to repent of any unjustified anger in your life and acknowledge to the Lord times when you are quick to anger. In those moments, pause what you are doing, intentionally breathe, speak the gospel over your soul, and be reminded that God is still in control.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26–27 ESV
Lord, thank You for Your kindness and gentleness toward me. Thank You that You are no longer angry with me through my faith in Christ. Thank You for paying the debt for my sins and giving me fresh grace daily. I ask You for Your help and power in controlling my anger. I know at some point today, something or someone will anger me. In that instance, please empower me to be slow to anger and quick to bring whatever the situation may be to You! Help me to have eyes to see people the way You do. So, Holy Spirit lead me on this journey. Calm my spirit. Fill me with Your character, and may Your emotions become mine emotions. We pray all of this with confidence, in Jesus’ name, amen!