Friday, December 16, 2011


Why are we so angry? Why does anger so often end in violence?

“Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”
Ecclesiastes 7:9.

A parent loses it when his infant is fussy and suffocates the child. A driver gets cut off in traffic and shoots the offender. A teenager resents being told “NO” and kills her parents. A student shoots teachers and fellow students.  An employee doesn’t receive a promotion, goes berserk and guns down his co-workers.

Babies cry, drivers make mistakes, teens get grounded, students receive bad grades, and employees miss out on promotion. This is nothing new. Individuals have dealt with crying babies, rebellious teens, bad drivers (of cars, carts, wagons, or chariots), failing grades, and unfair (or not) employers for thousands of years. In the past, most would try to bring their own behavior in line to deal with the problem.

Why, now, does it invoke such violent anger in so many people?

The Bible warns us to control our anger and says it leads to evil. “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.”

Certainly, we seem to exhibit out of control anger in recent years, at a spouse, at a child, at a parent, at the world.

Authorities cite isolation and depression as the probable cause of the increased level of anger. Perhaps, but I’m convinced there is a direct connection to our propensity to refuse to accept responsibility for our actions.  Blaming someone else for our misfortunes may get us off the hook temporarily, but at the same time, it produces a seed of anger.

Why? We know who is responsible, although we don’t like to admit it. We shy away from painful reality. A second incident occurs, we lay blame, and the little anger seed sprouts. After several incidents, the sprout is a heavy and burdensome shrub. “A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both.” Proverbs 27:3.

The heavier shrub crowds nearby seedlings (civility, understanding, compassion, forgiveness) and steals their food and light. Soon they wither and die and the shrub takes control. Its weight becomes unbearable. The only thought is immediate relief. Presto! A violent act toward the latest perceived offender and the pressure eases. But the shrub, though shot down to the ground, will sprout again, until we face the true villain–Hatred of Oneself.

A Christian can go to the Lord to vent his frustration and anger. He listens and He has the power to intervene. The Christian can leave the anger at the feet of Jesus and be relieved of his burden.

The unbeliever, in most cases, has no such pop-off valve and the trend toward “no absolutes” in our society leaves him floundering. Most do not go so far as to take someone’s life, but their anger is obvious. Look at the faces around you at a sports event, in the work place, or at the malls. Consider the lack of courtesy in a waiting line or the rhetoric we hear on TV and radio talk shows.

My parents taught: “If you can’t say something good about someone, say nothing at all.” That adage seems to belong to a musty era of the past, as perhaps do I. 

God’s great commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart and soul and your neighbor as yourself. The key word is: yourself. You cannot love God, or your neighbor, until you learn to love yourself.

God made each of us in His image, He has a plan for each one and each one is precious in His sight.


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