If you struggle with a quick temper you are not alone. Many of us have a short fuse. However, the Bible tells us that we should be slow to anger since human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20 (NIV)
We can learn from several hotheaded characters found within the pages of Scripture. God shared their stories in the Word so that we could find encouragement and learn from their mistakes. It didn’t take long for the sin of anger to appear within the pages God’s word.
Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are about God creating the universe and mankind. Chapter 3 is about man’s fall from grace. Adam and Eve had to vacate the Garden of Eden. However, God then tells us in Genesis chapter 4 about Cain’s anger over his brother’s good and acceptable offering. The spiritual condition of Cain’s heart was not right while Able’s was. God warned Cain to rein in his anger for, “sin is crouching at your door.”
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’ Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’ While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” Genesis 4:6-8 (NIV)
It is easy to fall into sin when we are not working on our relationship with God. Cain’s response when God asked, “Where is your brother Able?” is telling. There was no remorse or shame in his reply. Rather, Able haughtily replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Cain not only sinned in anger but he ignored his personal responsibility in the matter. He did not address the issues in his own heart and saw the problem as being something wrong with Abel. His perception of the matter was twisted and he could not (or would not) see things as they really were. The effect of sin is often deception.
To apply this story to our lives will take some honest self-reflection. Ask yourself this question: Is there a situation that has caused me to become angry? If so, consider whether your perception has become warped and whether you need to take responsibility for your part in the circumstance. Christians should be in a constant state of reflection while putting others ahead of their own desires and wants. If you have a habit of pointing the finger at others, meditate on the following Scripture. You could be sidetracking your own accountability. We cannot control the actions of others but we can control how we react to them and hopefully, it is with love.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
Anger is demonstrated in different ways. It is not always loud. Anger can be quiet and deceitful. 1 Kings 21 tells us about a Syrian King named Ahab. He wanted his neighbor’s vineyard but Naboth refused to sell. Because King Ahab didn’t get what he wanted, he sulkily retreated to his bed and refused to eat. When his wife, Queen Jezebel, learned the reason behind his change in mood she went on the attack. Her devious plan left Naboth dead and enabled King Ahab to take the land.
The reason for King Ahab’s anger is easy to figure out. He didn’t get what he wanted. He couldn’t control Naboth’s decision. Like a spoiled child, he threw a temper tantrum and refused to eat. He did not deal with his disappointment and frustration in a healthy manner. Queen Jezebel was his “fixer.” However, her murderous plot brought about God’s righteous anger and consequences not only for her but her husband as well.
The way we can avoid frustration and anger is to trust God. His timing is perfect and patience will often bring about an answer to our prayer. But, if we are denied our desire we must trust that God has our best interest in mind.
“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” Proverbs 14:29 (NIV)
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret-it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” Psalm 37:5-9
“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NIV)