Reading: Proverbs 22:1-29
Two friends William and Thomas were drinking at an all night-café. They got into a discussion about the difference between irritation, anger and rage. At about 1 AM, William said, “Look Tom, I’ll show you an example of irritation.”
He went to the payphone, put in a coin, and dialled a number at random. The phone rang and rang and rang. Finally, when a sleepy voice on the other end answered, William said, “I’d like to speak to Jones.”
“There’s no one here named Jones,” the disgruntled man replied as he hung up.
“That,” said William to Tom, “is a man who is irritated.”
An hour later at 2 AM, William said, “Now I’ll show you a man who is angry.” He went to the phone, dialled the same number, and let it ring. Eventually, the same sleepy voice answered the phone.
William asked, “May I please speak with Jones?”
“There’s no one here named Jones, ” came the angry reply, this time louder as the man slammed down the receiver.
An hour later, at 3 AM, William said, “I’ll now show you an example of rage”. He went to the phone, dialled the same number, and let it ring. When the the sleepy man finally answered, William said, “Good Morning! It’s Jones. Have there been any calls for me?”
In verse 17 there is a shift in authorship. Solomon now includes sayings of the wise. In both ‘The Proverbs of Solomon’ (10:1) and now in the ‘Sayings of the Wise’ (17) there have been repeated warnings against angry people (as well as people who wake you up early in the morning!). Here we see the writer telling us to not even make friends with one given to anger, nor hang out with a wrathful person (24). This is quite hard as there seem to be a lot of angry people about. Anger helps us get our own way, and in a world where getting our own way is important- a lot of people do it! American Bishop, William Wilimon, writes, ‘Anger protects the status quo of the ego. Anger isolates us, keeps us from having to be affected by the world around us, from having to change.”
Sadly, anger is very destructive, both to those on the receiving end and for those who are angry. A Greek philosopher, Seneca, wrote,”Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” I’ve seen anger halt the growth of otherwise healthy churches, wreck families and cause illness in those who express it. Anger is devastating. God calls us to live and move in the opposite spirit to anger: that is gentleness and humility. Are there places today to practice gentleness and humility?
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
“The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honour and life.” (Proverbs 22:4 ESV)
Father, there are times I get angry. Please forgive me. Lord I ask for help from your spirit so that in my anger I may not sin. Lord, there are angry people around me, help me to forgive them and to always come in the opposite spirit. Help me to come in humility and gentleness. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Please note: Any comments containing links may not appear immediately, as they are held for moderation.
Only your name and comment are required to post, if you enter your email this will not be shown with your comment.