Proverbs 19:11, 29:11,22 | Psalms 4:4 | Ephesians 4:31 | James 1:19-20

Take a deep breath…

Someone’s grandfather said, “There are two types of people: those who get angry…and dirty, dirty liars.” Everyone gets angry.

The question is: What are you going to do when you get angry? Because even the most easygoing, even-tempered person gets tested at some point. Will you be foolish and unleash your rage?

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.

Proverbs 29:11 NLT

Or will you choose the wise path and hold back your anger? We have to be careful what we do with it.

An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.

Proverbs 29:22 NLT

Unchecked anger starts fights, and leads a person to do all sorts of bad things. Think about that… Losing control of your temper is a first step to losing control of the rest of your life! It’s a serious problem, and it’s directly opposite of what God wants for his children.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.

Psalms 4:4 NLT

It’s a sin to let your anger control you–even though it burns like a flame in your gut. It screams, “Let me at ‘em!!” But we have to resist the temptation to unleash the beast.

That’s right, venting your anger is a temptation! It seems so inviting in the moment, but afterward it only leads to regret.

There is a story about a woman who was powerless against chocolate cake. She ate it morning, noon and night, despite feeling awful for it. After being diagnosed with diabetes, she asked her doctor for advice on how to stop herself from getting another slice from the kitchen. The doctor answered, “Don’t keep it in your kitchen–or anywhere else. Get rid of it!”

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

Ephesians 4:31 NLT

What should you do with this temptation to blow your top? The same thing you would do with the tempting chocolate cake–get rid of it. Bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words against others have no place in your house. 

Throw them out like you would do any other type of evil behavior. Because that’s what they are: evil behavior. And therefore, they are not what God wants for you. What God wants for you is righteousness. 

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

James 1:19-20 NLT

Finally, think about this: You get angry because you feel disrespected, right? Biblical wisdom gives us the ultimate checkmate move for dealing with disrespect: being sensible.

Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.

Proverbs 19:11 NLT

When you control your temper, you are being sensible. And when you are sensible, you earn respect by overlooking how you’ve been wronged. It’s kind of like saying, “No big deal,” after being slapped in the face. It’s a hardcore tough turn to take, and it ain’t for the weak!

Will you get angry? Yes, of course. But if you want to be respected, be sensible and keep anger from controlling you. That’s the path to righteousness.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • When have you lost your temper? What happened as a result?
  • What is the difference between quietly holding back your anger (as in Proverbs 29:11) and keeping it ‘bottled up’? How can you make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for an explosion?
  • Does the idea of earning respect by being sensible and overlooking wrongs (as in Proverbs 19:11) strike you as ironic? How counterintuitive is it to react to being disrespected this way? Have you seen someone gain respect this way?

Challenge: One, Two, Three!

It’s the ultimate combination punch.

The Apostle James told us to be 1) quick to listen, 2) slow to speak, and 3) slow to get angry. Could it be that the first two pave the way for the third?

Your challenge is to find a few ways to be deliberately quick to listen and slow to speak, then practice them for a week.

Afterward, write a brief account of your experience, answering the following questions:

  • What ways did you devise to be deliberately quick to listen and slow to speak?
  • How much were you able to practice your methods? Do you need more than one week to come to a conclusion about their effectiveness?
  • Share as many of your experiences from the week (with being quick to listen and slow to speak) as you can remember.
  • Do you think that being quick to listen and slow to speak enables you to be slow to anger? Or is being slow to anger entirely separate?