“Well, take the First World War,” said his father. “That got started when Germany invaded Belgium.”
Immediately his wife interrupted him: “Tell the boy the truth. It began because somebody was murdered.” The husband drew himself up with an air of superiority and snapped back, “Are you answering the question, or am I?” Turning her back upon him in huff, the wife walked out of the room and slammed the door as hard as she could.
When the dishes stopped rattling in the cupboard, and uneasy silence followed, broken at length by the son when he said, “Daddy, you don’t have to tell me any more; I know now!” ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Two hundred and seventy-seven years seems like a long time to carry a grudge! ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
It is said that a rattlesnake, if cornered, will sometimes become so upset that it will bite itself. That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is—a biting of oneself. We think that we are harming others in holding these grudges and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Leonard Holt was a paragon of respectability. He was a middle-aged, hard-working lab technician who had worked at the same Pennsylvania paper mill for nineteen years. Having been a Boy Scout leader, an affectionate father, a member of the local fire brigade, and a regular church attender, he was admired as a model in his community. Until that image exploded in a well-planned for of bloodshed one brisk October morning.
A proficient marksman, Leonard Holt stuffed two pistols in his coat pockets and drove to the mill. He stalked slowly into his shop and began shooting with calculated frenzy. He filled several co-workers with two or three bullets apiece, firing more than thirty shots, killing some men he had known for more than fifteen years. When the posse found him standing defiantly in his doorway, he snarled, “Come and get me, you—I’m not taking any more of your--!” Bewilderment swept the community.
Puzzled policemen and friends finally found a train of logic behind his brief reign of terror. Down deep within the heart of Leonard Holt rumbled the giant of resentment. His monk-like exterior concealed the seething hated within. The investigation yielded the following facts. Several victims had been promoted over him while he remained in the same position. More than one in Holt’s carpool had quit riding with him due to his reckless driving. The man was brimming with resentment-rage that could be held no longer. Beneath his picture in Time, the caption told the story: Responsible, Respectable, and Resentful.” ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Bruce Goodrich was being initiated into the cadet corps at Texas A & M University. One night, Bruce was forced to run until he dropped -- but he never got up. Bruce Goodrich died before he even entered college.
A short time after the tragedy, Bruce's father wrote this letter to the administration, faculty, student body, and the corps of cadets: "I would like to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of my family for the great outpouring of concern and sympathy from Texas A & M University and the college community over the loss of our son Bruce. We were deeply touched by the tribute paid to him in the battalion. We were particularly pleased to note that his Christian witness did not go unnoticed during his brief time on campus."
Mr. Goodrich went on: "I hope it will be some comfort to know that we harbor no ill will in the matter. We know our God makes no mistakes. Bruce had an appointment with his Lord and is now secure in his celestial home. When the question is asked, 'Why did this happen?' perhaps one answer will be, 'So that many will consider where they will spend eternity.'" ── Our Daily Bread, March 22, 1994.
An author for Reader's Digest writes how he studied the Amish people in preparation for an article on them. In his observation at the school yard, he noted that the children never screamed or yelled. This amazed him. He spoke to the schoolmaster. He remarked how he had not once heard an Amish child yell, and asked why the schoolmaster thought that was so. The schoolmaster replied, "Well, have you ever heard an Amish adult yell?"── Reader's Digest.
Doctors from Coral Gables, Fla., compared the efficiency of the heart's pumping action in 18 men with coronary artery disease to nine healthy controls. Each of the study participants underwent one physical stress test (riding an exercise bicycle) and three mental stress tests (doing math problems in their heads, recalling a recent incident that had made them very angry, and giving a short speech to defend themselves against a hypothetical charge of shoplifting). Using sophisticated X-ray techniques, the doctors took pictures of the subjects' hearts in action during these tests.
For all the subjects, anger reduced the amount of blood that the heart pumped to body tissues more than the other tests, but this was especially true for those who had heart disease.
Why anger is so much more potent than fear or mental stress is anybody's guess. But until we see more research on this subject, it couldn't hurt to count to 10 before you blow your stack. ── Spokesman-Review, July 29, 1993, p. D3.
Many years ago during a Knicks-Bullets playoff game, one of the Bullets came up from behind the great Walt Frazier and punched him in the face. Strangely, the referee called a foul on Frazier. Frazier didn't complain. His expression never changed. He simply called for the ball and put in seven straight shots to win the game, an amazing display of productive anger. If you want to get huffy about it, it was a great moral lesson as well.── U.S. News & World Report, June 14, 1993, p. 37.
Many years ago a senior executive of the then Standard Oil Company made a wrong decision that cost the company more than $2 million. John D. Rockefeller was then running the firm. On the day the news leaked out most of the executives of the company were finding various ingenious ways of avoiding Mr. Rockefeller, lest his wrath descend on their heads.
There was one exception, however; he was Edward T. Bedford, a partner in the company. Bedford was scheduled to see Rockefeller that day and he kept the appointment, even though he was prepared to listen to a long harangue against the man who made the error in judgment.
When he entered the office the powerful head of the gigantic Standard Oil empire was bent over his desk busily writing with a pencil on a pad of paper. Bedford stood silently, not wishing to interrupt. After a few minutes Rockefeller looked up.
"Oh, it's you, Bedford," he said calmly. "I suppose you've heard about our loss?"
Bedford said that he had.
"I've been thinking it over," Rockefeller said, "and before I ask the man in to discuss the matter, I've been making some notes."
Bedford later told the story this way:
"Across the top of the page was written, 'Points in favor of Mr. _______.' There followed a long list of the man's virtues, including a brief description of how he had helped the company make the right decision on three separate occasions that had earned many times the cost of his recent error.
"I never forgot that lesson. In later years, whenever I was tempted to rip into anyone, I forced myself first to sit down and thoughtfully compile as long a list of good points as I possibly could. Invariably, by the time I finished my inventory, I would see the matter in its true perspective and keep my temper under control. There is no telling how many times this habit has prevented me from committing one of the costliest mistakes any executive can make -- losing his temper.
"I commend it to anyone who must deal with people." ── Bits & Pieces, September 15, 1994, pp. 11-13.
In the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came to Boston to play a routine baseball game. But what happened that day was anything but routine. The Orioles' John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third baseman. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl. The warfare quickly spread to the grandstands. Among the fans the conflict went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and the entire ballpark burned to the ground. Not only that, but the fire spread to 107 other Boston buildings as well. ── Daily Bread, August 13, 1992.
The 18th-century British physician John Hunter, who was a pioneer in the field of surgery and served as surgeon to King George III, suffered from angina. Discovering that his attacks were often brought on by anger, Hunter lamented, "My life is at the mercy of any scoundrel who chooses to put me in a passion." These words proved prophetic, for at a meeting of the board of St. George's Hospital in London, Hunter got into a heated argument with other board members, walked out, and dropped dead in the next room. ── Today in the Word, June 8, 1992.
A father of three won a shouting contest with a roar louder than a passing train. "If you want a war, you go!" Yoshihiko Kato shouted. The sound meter registered 115.8 decibels, louder than the racket of a train passing overhead on an elevated railroad. For that winning shout, Kato won the $750 grand prize of the 10th annual Halls Year-End Loud Voice Contest. Kato admitted that he probably built up his loud voice shouting at his children. ── Resource, Jan/Feb 1991.
Abraham Lincoln's secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, was angered by an army officer who accused him of favoritism. Stanton complained to Lincoln, who suggested that Stanton write the officer a sharp letter. Stanton did, and showed the strongly worded missive to the president. "What are you going to do with it?" Lincoln inquired. Surprised, Stanton replied, "Send it." Lincoln shook his head. "You don't want to send that letter," he said. "Put it in the stove. That's what I do when I have written a letter while I am angry. It's a good letter and you had a good time writing it and feel better. Now burn it, and write another." ── Today in the Word, February, 1991, p. 9.
The great Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini was legendary for his fits of rage. The librarian of one of Toscanini's orchestras was particularly vexed by the maestro's habit of throwing valuable musical scores at the musicians when angry. Watching closely, the librarian observed that Toscanini's first act when enraged was to take his baton in both hands and try to break it. If the baton snapped, Toscanini usually calmed down and rehearsal continued. If the baton did not break, he began hurling scores. The librarian's solution? He made sure the conductor had a generous supply of flimsy batons on hand for rehearsal! ── Today in the Word, February, 1991, p. 22.
National park ranger in British Columbia who has two sets of huge antlers, as wide as a man's reach locked together. Evidently 2 bull moose began fighting, their antlers locked, and they could not get free. They died due to anger. ── National Geographic, November, 1985.
A lady once came to Billy Sunday and tried to rationalize her angry outbursts. "There's nothing wrong with losing my temper," she said. "I blow up, and then it's all over."
"So does a shotgun," Sunday replied, "and look at the damage it leaves behind!" ── Billy Sunday.
Jim Taylor in Currents tells the following story about his friend, Ralph Milton: One morning Ralph woke up at five o'clock to a noise that sounded like someone repairing boilers on his roof. Still in his pajamas, he went into the back yard to investigate. He found a woodpecker on the TV antenna, "pounding its little brains out on the metal pole." Angry at the little creature who ruined his sleep, Ralph picked up a rock and threw it. The rock sailed over the house, and he heard a distant crash as it hit the car. In utter disgust, Ralph took a vicious kick at a clod of dirt, only to remember -- too late -- that he was still in his bare feet. Uncontrolled anger, as Ralph leaned, can sometimes be its own reward.── Jim Taylor, Currents.
When Abraham Lincoln had to write a letter to someone who had irritated him, he would often write two letters. The first letter was deliberately insulting. Then, having gotten those feelings out of his system, he would tear it up and write a second letter, this one tactful and discreet. ── John Luther in Bits & Pieces, October 1990.
Charles De Gaulle once said: "When I am right, I get angry. Churchill gets angry when he is wrong. So we were very often angry at each other." ── Charles De Gaulle.
As a passenger boarded the Los Angeles-to-New York plane, he told the flight attendant to wake him and make sure he got off in Dallas. The passenger awoke just as the plane was landing in New York. Furious, he called the flight attendant and demanded an explanation. The fellow mumbled an apology and, in a rage, the passenger stomped off the plane. "Boy, was he ever mad!" another crew member observed to her errant colleague. "If you think he was mad," replied the flight attendant, "you should have seen the guy I put off the plane in Dallas!" ── H.B. McClung.
A "Do it yourself" catalog firm received the following letter from one of its customers: "I built a birdhouse according to your stupid plans, and not only is it much too big, it keeps blowing out of the tree. Signed, Unhappy.
The firm replied: "Dear Unhappy, We're sorry about the mix-up. We accidentally sent you a sailboat blueprint. But if you think you are unhappy, you should read the letter from the guy who came in last in the yacht club regatta." ── Source Unknown.
Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame. ── B. Franklin.
Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one. ── B. Franklin.
It is he who is in the wrong who first gets angry.── William Penn.
Of the 7 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, Wishful Thinking Transformed by Thorns, p. 117.
A person who is angry on the right grounds, against the right persons, in the right manner, at the right moment, and for the right length of time deserves great praise. ── Bits & Pieces, May 27, 1993, p. 1.
The fastest horse cannot catch a word spoken in anger. ── Chinese Proverb in Bits & Pieces, July 25, 1992, p. 5.
90% of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice. ── Leadership, Vol. 1, Number 4, p. 23.
Angry cynical people die young. Men who score high for hostility on standard tests are four times more likely to die prematurely than men whose scores are low. ── Bottom Line, quoted in Homemade, February 1989.
Getting angry can sometimes be like leaping into a wonderfully responsive sports car, gunning the motor, taking off at high speed and then discovering the brakes are out of order. ── Maggie Scarg in New York Times Magazine.
Anger is a divinely implanted emotion. Closely allied to our instinct for right, it is designed to be used for constructive spiritual purposes. The person who cannot feel anger at evil is a person who lacks enthusiasm for good. If you cannot hate wrong, it's very questionable whether you really love righteousness. ── Dr. David Seamands.
A "do it yourself" catalog firm received the following letter from one of its customers: "I built a birdhouse according to your stupid plans, and not only is it much too big, it keeps blowing out of the tree. Signed, Unhappy. The firm replied: "Dear Unhappy, We're sorry about the mix-up. We accidentally sent you a sailboat blueprint. But if you think you are unhappy, you should read the letter from the guy who came in last in the yacht club regatta."
It is clear that when we think of the word "wrath" as applicable to God, it must be divested of everything that is like human passion, and especially the passion of revenge. It is one of the most obvious rules of interpretation that we are not to apply to God passions and feelings which, among us, have their origin in evil. [God's wrath] is the opposition of the divine character against sin; and the determination of the divine mind to express that opposition in a proper way, by excluding the offender from the favors which He bestows on the righteous. We admire the character of a father who is opposed to disorder, vice, and disobedience in his family, and who expresses his opposition in a proper way. We admire the character of a ruler who is opposed to all crime in the community, and who expresses those feelings in the law. Why shall we not be equally pleased with God, who is opposed to all crime in all parts of the universe, and who determines to express His opposition in the proper way for the sake of preserving order and promoting peace?
"CEASE FROM ANGER, AND FORSAKE WRATH"
1. An article in Newsweek ("Better Temper That Temper!",
a. Is it best to let off steam? (reduces blood pressure, but produces
hostility in others)
b. Is it best to suppress one's anger? (raises blood pressure, but
2. This prompted me to study the subject of anger from a Biblical
a. Which for the Christian provides the final word
b. For all things, including human behavior
[What follows is the results of my study. I began by taking...]
I. AN OVERALL LOOK AT ANGER
A. IN THE OLD TESTAMENT...
1. The OT books, especially Proverbs and Ecclesiastes have a lot
to say about anger
2. Two passages provide this warning:
a. Pro 14:17 - "He who is quick-tempered acts foolishly..."
b. Ecc 7:9 - "Do not hasten in your spirit to be anger, for
anger rests in the bosom of fools"
3. The following pretty well sums it up: "Cease from anger, and
forsake wrath; Do not fret -- it only causes harm." - Psa 37:8
B. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT...
1. It appears anger is not compatible with the Christian
a. Anger and wrath are to be replaced by kindness and
forgiveness - Ep 4:31-32
b. We are told we "must also put off all these: anger, wrath,
malice..." - Co 3:8
c. James tells us to be "...slow to wrath; for the wrath of man
does not produce the righteousness of God." - Ja 1:19-20
2. Yet we also note there appears to be a place for a certain kind
a. Jesus expressed anger on several occasions
1) Toward the money changers in the temple - Jn 2:13-17
2) Toward the hypocritical Pharisees - Mt 23:13ff
b. God is a God of anger as well as a God of love - cf. Ro
1:18; 2:5; Ep 5:6
c. Many point out Paul's comments in Ep 4:26 (see more below)
[How do we reconcile those passages which demand anger be put off with
those which speak of anger on the part of God, Christ, and the
Christian? Let's take...]
II. A CLOSER LOOK AT ANGER
A. CONCERNING THE ANGER OF GOD...
1. God's anger is always a just reaction to evil - cf. Ro 1:18;
2. His wrath is never misguided; He is therefore capable of
properly manifesting anger
3. Man, with his imperfections, is not so capable
a. His anger is often misguided and misdirected
b. Because of ignorance, false presumptions, misunderstanding,
B. CONCERNING THE ANGER OF CHRIST...
1. In the examples of His anger...
a. There is nothing of self-interest
b. Only holy anger against unrighteousness which is abhorrent
2. He could be angry, but only for God's honor
a. When personally abused, He said nothing - cf. 1 Pe 2:21-23
b. But when it was against God, He displayed righteous anger
(as in the temple)
3. Man, with his imperfections, does not always properly use anger
a. E.g., we remain silent when sin is exalted and God is
b. Then get angry when someone offends us personally!
C. CONCERNING "BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN..."
1. Don't ignore the context of Ep 4:26-27 (cf. Ep 4:31)
2. Paul is telling us that if anger comes to the heart...
a. It must be controlled ("do not sin...nor give place to the
b. It must be dispelled before nightfall ("do not let the sun
go down on your wrath")
3. Compare this with the meaning of the Greek words often
translated "anger" and "wrath"
a. Thumos (most often translated "wrath")
1) "the sudden outburst of passionate anger" - ZPEB
2) "the blaze of temper which flares into violent words and
deeds, and just as quickly dies" - Barclay
b. Orge (often translated "wrath", but also "anger")
1) "indignation which has arisen gradually and become more
settled" - Thayer
2) "suggests a more settled or abiding condition of mine"
4. The effects of Paul's remarks in Ep 4:26-27 are in harmony with
a. "do not sin" - i.e., don't let anger become wrath (outburst
of anger), which is sin
b. "do not let the sun go down on your wrath" - i.e., don't let
anger remain and become settled, for that is also a sin
5. The point is simply this:
a. It is wrong to "blow off steam"
1) Which is the idea involved in the word thumos
2) Sometimes translated "outbursts of anger"
b. It is wrong to "have a lasting, suppressed anger"
1) Which is the idea involved in the word orge
2) Sometimes translated "anger"
[But if it is wrong to be angry or to display wrath, is it humanly
possible to remove these emotional reactions to trying and difficult
situations? Yes! But only as we undergo a "transformation"...]
III. PUTTING AWAY ANGER AND WRATH
A. TRANSFORMATION IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN...
1. When a person becomes a Christian, a change is now possible
- 2 Co 5:17
a. This change involves many things, one of which is our
relation to sin
1) Before, we were "slaves of sin" - Ro 6:17
2) Now, we can be "free from sin" - Ro 6:18
b. This does not mean that we cannot or do not sin
1) Only that we do not "have to sin" - cf. Ro 7:14-24
2) We are now free to present ourselves to God, to serve as
instruments of righteousness - cf. Ro 6:11-14,19
2. When a Christian willingly presents himself to God,
transformation is possible!
a. Made possible by "renewing your mind" - Ro 12:1-2
b. This renewing of your mind occurs as we:
1) Set our minds on things above, especially on God and
Christ - Co 3:1-2
2) Behold (contemplate) the glory of the Lord - cf. 2 Co
c. With a mind being renewed in this way, it becomes
1) To put off things like anger, wrath - Co 3:8-11
2) To put on things like kindness, love, the peace of God
- Co 3:12-15
a) Things which in themselves prevent anger and wrath
from becoming a part of our lives
b) Especially the "peace of God", which if allowed to
rule in our hearts will give us the inner calm and
harmony we need in trying times!
c) Crucial to putting on such things as "peace" is the
Word of God and prayer! - cf. Jn 14:27; 16:33; Ph 4:
3. Transformation leads to reacting differently...
a. Even as Christians, before we are transformed we will react
according to the works of the flesh (with anger and wrath)
- Ga 5:19-21
b. But the more we are transformed into the image of Christ,
the more we will react according to the fruit of the Spirit
(kindness, gentleness, self-control) - Ga 5:22-23
[During the process of transformation through the Word of God and
prayer, it does not hurt to benefit from suggestions which complement
what the Bible teaches. Along this line, perhaps it will be helpful
to include some thoughts regarding...]
B. ANGER MANAGEMENT...
1. Seneca, a Roman philosopher-educator (4
-65 A.D.), offered the
following self-control techniques in his book "Of Anger"...
a. Avoid frustrating situations by noting where you got angry
in the past (cf. Mt 26:41; Pro 4:14-15)
b. Reduce your anger by taking time, focusing on other emotions
(pleasure, shame, or fear), avoiding weapons of aggression,
and attending to other matters (cf. Ph 4:8)
c. Respond calmly to an aggressor with empathy or mild,
unprovocative comments or with no response at all (cf. Pro
d. If angry, concentrate on the undesirable consequences of
becoming aggressive (cf. Psa 37:8)
1) Tell yourself: "Why give them the satisfaction of knowing
you are upset?"
2) Or "It isn't worth being mad over."
e. Reconsider the circumstances and try to understand the
motives or viewpoint of the other person (cf. Ph 2:3-4)
f. Train yourself to be empathic with others (cf. 2 Ti 2:24-26)
1) Be tolerant of human weakness
2) Be forgiving (ask yourself if you haven't done something
3) Follow the "great lesson of mankind: to do as we would be
done by" (cf. Mt 7:12)
2. From MyMindField.com come these suggestions for controlling
anger through behavior modification
a. Reduce your frustrations
1) Find the source of your frustration, whether they be
people or subjects or situations
2) Attempt to reduce or eliminate your exposure to these
b. Reduce violent stimuli in your life
1) Choosing to avoid violent movies, violent and aggressive
friends is part of this approach
2) Be very selective with your friends so that they do not
goad you into anger and rage
3) Eliminate drugs and alcohol as stimulants of anger.
c. Reveal yourself and understand others
1) Announce you may be having a bad day to others
2) Attempt to indicate to others they are having a bad day
and offer to listen or let them vent
d. Stop hostile fantasies
1) Cease dwelling on issues or people which aggravate
2) Think smooth. Think cool.
e. Do not escalate the violence - Aggressive action on your
part may cause an equally aggressive response which starts a
f. Suppress or convert your violent reaction
1) Count to ten, take a deep breath, or go work out are
variations on this theme
2) Think of the source of the aggravation and whether a
violent reaction will accomplish any purpose other than
remorse, which is not a goal
g. Cease using temper to get your way - While successful in the
short term, using anger to win points is a losing strategy
in the long run
h. Use stress inoculation - This approach involves awareness of
our own irrational fantasies, learning better understanding
of why others are weak when they show rage, and rehearsing
how to be calm in the face of angering stimulation
i. Disconnect anger from frustrating people or issues or
j. Consider meditation and mild exercise to relax
3. Some other useful sources for "Anger Management" on the
a. Psychology In Daily Life - Controlling Anger--Before It
Controls You - http://helping.apa.org/daily/anger.html
b. Mental Health Net - Anger And Aggression
1. Instead of trying to determine whether we should react to difficult
a. By letting off steam
b. By suppressing one's anger
...the goal of the Christian should be that of changing the inner
person - the more we are transformed, the more likely we will react
with love, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and
2. Following the example of Christ, there may be a place for anger, but
only in things pertaining to the honor and will of God; in all other
things, we do well to remember:
a. The example of Jesus - 1 Pe 2:23
b. The words of David - Psa 37:8
Let us "cease from anger, and forsake wrath" by presenting ourselves to
God, allowing our minds to be renewed as we behold His glory revealed in
Do you wish to be a "new creation"? You must be "in Christ" (2 Co
5:17), and that begins by being baptized "into Christ" (Ga 3:27)...