BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Temper is another word for anger. Proverbs 14:29 says, “Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes” (NLT). The ability to control your temper is proof that you have a great understanding. Fools easily act in rage. Many people have destroyed their careers, marriages, families, etc. because of a lack of control of their temper. Uncontrolled anger dissipates your energy, injures your health, and closes doors against you.
Needless to say “righteous anger” is inevitable. It is an expression of resentment against the disobedience of God’s words, commandments, and principles. The Bible refers to many instances where God expressed His anger. In Matthew 21:12-13, Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves – those who were exploiting God’s people. Jesus did not sin. There are other cases of what you can call holy anger in the Bible.
We can get angry at sin, but not the sinner. Even then, we must be careful that righteous anger does not turn to sin, or is not a disguise for our pride, lack of love, or lack of self-control. “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22 NKJV).
Everyone needs to destroy the stronghold of anger in his life. The beginning of victory is a sincere admission of your condition.
Saul’s raging anger
David said to Jonathan concerning the plan of his father, Saul, to kill him (David): “If your father asks where I am, tell him I asked permission to go home to Bethlehem for an annual family sacrifice. If he says, ‘Fine!’ then you will know all is well. But if he is angry and loses his temper, then you will know he was planning to kill me” (1 Samuel 20:6-7 NLT). Did you see that phrase, angry and loses his temper?
What was Saul’s reaction after enquiring about David’s whereabouts from Jonathan? “Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. ‘You stupid son of a whore!’ he swore at him. ‘Do you think I don’t know that you want David to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother? As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!” (1 Samuel 20:30-31 NLT). Did you see how angry Saul was? Did you notice the type of language he used on his son, which showed how much he had lost his temper?
Saul wasn’t done yet with his rabid show of anger. “‘But what has he done?’ Jonathan demanded. ‘Why should he be put to death?’ Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David. Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat all that day, for he was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David” (1 Samuel 20:32-34 NLT). Did you also notice that the Bible says in that passage that Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat all that day?
Jonathan’s anger may be described as a fit of righteous anger. He was angry that Saul was actually planning to commit murder – a violation of God’s word. He was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior towards David. Did you notice that Jonathan did not do anything destructive though he was angry? As a human being, you may be angry sometimes but control your anger. Don’t let your anger at the wrong somebody has done make you do something equally sinful.
Cain’s needless anger
Saul didn’t succeed in killing David and his son, but Cain succeeded in murdering his brother, Abel. Genesis 4:5 says, “But He [God] did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell” (NKJV). Did you see that it was anger that provoked Cain to kill his brother just because God had accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but rejected his?
Proverbs 14:17a says, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly” (NKJV). Therefore, you must learn to always bring your temper under control so that you don’t say what you shouldn’t say or do what you shouldn’t do. Do not be quick-tempered or easily provoked.
Simeon’s and Levi’s fierce anger
Two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, were people given to anger. Hear what their father said: “Simeon and Levi are two of a kind — men of violence. O my soul, stay away from them. May I never be a party to their wicked plans. For in their anger they murdered men, and they crippled oxen just for sport. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; cursed be their wrath, for it is cruel. Therefore, I will scatter their descendants throughout the nation of Israel” (Genesis 49:5-7 NLT).
Jacob was referring to the brazen murder of Hamor, and his son, Shechem, by Simeon and Levi, with the sword and plundering of the city of Shechem, in retaliation for Shechem’s defilement of their sister, Dinah. Genesis 34:1-29 records the defilement of Dinah and the wickedness of Simeon and Levi in retaliation.
After the incident, Jacob expressed his resentment. “Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I”’ (Genesis 34:30 NKJV).
Nevertheless, Simeon and Levi showed no remorse. They said, “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?” (Verse 31 NKJV). This wickedness of these sons was so painful that Jacob didn’t forget in time – the issue came up again when he was blessing his children. He cursed their anger (not them) and pronounced that their descendants would be scattered throughout Israel! That was exactly what happened to their two tribes. Be careful that you don’t allow your anger to make you do what will attract the displeasure of God, your parents, your boss, etc.
Samson’s uncontrolled temper
Samson was quick-tempered and revengeful. He didn’t control his temper. In Judges 14:19, the Bible says that after the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, he went to Ashkelon where he killed thirty of their men. It goes further to say that Samson gave the changes of their clothing to those who explained the riddle he had posed, and “his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house.”
Samson was so angry that he left his in-law’s house without taking away the wife he had come to marry. Of course one could appreciate that what happened to him, a great betrayal by the person he wanted to marry, which made it doubtful that she really loved him.
The father-in-law even made the matter worse by handing over his daughter to Samson’s best man to marry. The best man married Samson’s bride! The New King James Version uses the word companion. The word translated companion is, in Hebrew, merea. It means a companion, a friend, a confidential friend. Samson left the ceremony in anger.
However, he came back sometimes later for his wife. But she had been given away to Samson’s best man or companion, apparently to save the bride and the family the embarrassment of a failed wedding ceremony. Some have even suggested that maybe the bride actually loved Samson’s companion more than Samson! The Bible does not say anything like that. Obviously, that was treachery on the part of Samson’s bride and his companion.
Jesus said in John 3:29, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled” (NKJV). When the best man married the bride because the groom went away in anger, something is wrong with the bride and the best man. One may ask: What type of best man was Samson’s? Did Samson just pick him to be his best man? Didn’t they both have a relationship prior to the marriage? Why didn’t Samson know that his best man had been given his wife to marry? Judges 14:20 says, “But Samson’s wife was [given] to his companion, whom he had used as his friend” (World English Bible). Darby’s Translation renders the verse thus: “And Samson’s wife was [given] to his companion, whom he had made his friend.” One is not too sure if there was no close relationship between Samson and this best man or companion to have engaged in such a betrayal.
The Contemporary English Version suggests that the person Samson’s wife was given to as wife might not have been a close companion. Judges 14:20, in the Contemporary English Version, says, “The father of the bride had Samson’s wife marry one of the thirty young men that had been at Samson’s party.” These were the thirty young men at Timnah mentioned in verses 11 and 19.
In verse 11, the Bible says that, at the feast or party, when the Philistines saw Samson, they brought thirty companions to be with him. He posed a riddle to them. After they had found the answer to his riddle through Samson’s wife and told him, verse 19 says the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men. He took their apparel and gave the changes of clothing to the thirty young men, as the promised reward for the answer to the riddle.
The Contemporary English Version shows that the companion whom Samson’s wife was given to marry was a Philistine like his wife. This may explain why Samson took the action he took after he returned to take his wife away, and he was told she had been given to his companion.
To appease Samson, the parent offered him to marry the younger sister of the bride taken by his best man. Samson went into a rage. He saw the betrayal of his wife, in-laws, and companion as a justification for his action. “And Samson said to them, ‘This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them!’” (Judges 15:3 NKJV).
Samson decided to punish the Philistines for his own folly! He burnt up their farms, including their vineyards and olive groves. When the Philistines found out it was Samson who burnt up their farms, they also retaliated by burning the woman in question, and her father.
Samson should have known that the Philistines would not take it lightly with him for burning their farms. He should have expected they would react. And they did by getting rid of the woman and her father. However, Samson wouldn’t give up. He moved against the Philistines in retaliation, and attacked them hip and thigh with a great slaughter and then went down to dwell in the cleft of the rock of Etam (Judges 15:7-8). The Philistines retaliated again.
Don’t be motivated by anger
As a child of God, be careful that your actions are not motivated by anger. Don’t react to any wrong against you by losing your temper. Two wrongs will never make a right. Don’t live a life of “tit for tat” and “an eye for an eye.” Whereas this principle is stated in the Old Testament for the Israelites, it was for the judges to apply and not for individuals in their relationships (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21).
Apparently addressing the misinterpretation or misapplication of this principle, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” (Matthew 5:38-42 NKJV). The importance of Jesus’ teaching was not to seek revenge.
Always control your temper in the face of provocation. Don’t take revenge rather repay evil with good. Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21). Instead of being easily angry, forgive (Matthew 18:21-22; 6:14-15). Colossians 3:13 says, “You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT). Did you see that? Nobody is perfect, including you.
Some situations or actions can make you angry, but never allow anger to control your actions, otherwise, you’ll sin. People may do things that will make you angry, but always control your anger – apply the brake. A vehicle without a functional brake system is dangerous.
If you allow anger to control you, you would have said what you shouldn’t have said before you realize it. You’ll regret later, but, sometimes, the consequences may be irreversible. Don’t let anger destroy your marriage, your careers, your destiny, your relationships, etc.
James 1:19 says be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Be in control of your temperament, not the other way round. “‘And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27 NLT). Don’t give a mighty foothold to the devil through anger.
How to overcome anger
1.Acknowledge that uncontrolled anger is a sin. Therefore, don’t make excuses for it.
2. Admit that anger is a problem in your life.
3. Confess your sin about past and current anger.
4. Apologize to those you’ve been angry with or you’re currently angry with.
5. Forgive FROM THE HEART (Matthew 18:35) those who did what made you angry, including those you’ve vowed not to forgive till you die! Don’t wait for them to ask for forgiveness; forgiveness is in your own interest, not theirs. (Forgiveness is different from reconciliation or restoration of relationship, which depends a lot on the offender.)
6. Expect that people won’t always do things the way you want; they’ll sometimes do what will make you angry so forgive them in advance.
7. Don’t take everything too seriously. Some people easily get angry over little things.
8. Study and meditate on what the Bible says on anger.
9. Pray to God for victory over anger and depend on God’s Spirit to help you (Galatians 5:22-23).
10. Relate to others in love. Love is not provoked; love does not take into account a wrong suffered (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
11. If or when you feel anger arising in you, take some practical precautionary steps to avoid this trap. You may refuse to say a word. You may leave the place or person making you angry or calm down yourself by saying something like: “I choose to love and not to be angry.” You can talk with the person on the issue later when you’ve calmed down.
12. If you’re angry and people pacify you, respond positively and let go of your anger. Even God forgives, why should you not?
13. Don’t go to sleep at night without resolving each day’s anger. Don’t bring today’s anger into a new day. Unresolved anger will graduate to deep-seated bitterness that will give birth to all manners of evil (Ephesians 4:26).
Be positive about life. Don’t allow circumstances and people to change your feelings or moods negatively. Nobody can truly make you angry; he or she can only provoke you, but it takes your permission to be angry.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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