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愤怒的时代

作者:道格·巴契勒 牧师日期:2013-04-04 10:38:38浏览数:25170
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奇妙真相:“路怒症”(又名“道路狂躁症”,指驾驶员在开车时产生一种愤怒情绪或具有攻击性的行为。)是一个术语,用来形容北美一种令人担忧的新现象:因驾车而情绪暴躁的驾驶员故意与看着不顺眼的司机碰撞,甚至开枪。这一问题日趋严重,以致美国汽车协会开始播放一系列的广告片,用以教导司机如何保持冷静,并避免成为受害者。

一位年轻的母亲开始学习圣经并相信其中的真理。但她的同居男友却勃然大怒,因为女友坚持二人要么结婚,要么分手。一天晚上,她正往墙上钉一张印有十诫的彩页,男友突然怒不可遏,抢过锤子狠狠击打她的头部。男子以为女友已经死了,于是走进里屋,杀了他们刚刚十个月大的孩子。

这时,闻声而来的房东冲了进去,并击毙了那名发狂的父亲。意料之外的是,那位母亲只受了些轻伤。当她和我联系时,我才得知这场悲剧。我的同事雷贝利牧师为那个漂亮的男婴主持了葬礼,而他竟是父亲怒气发作时的牺牲品。

情欲的果子

诚然,我们生活在一个“愤怒的时代”。人们的心中怒火郁积、沸腾。胃溃疡(某些胃溃疡乃是愤怒所致)和抗酸剂(治疗胃溃疡的药物)绝非是这个愤怒世界的唯一副产品。报章头版充斥着人们由于怒气发作而导致的可怕暴行,而某些受害者完全是陌生人或同事,更为普遍的却是他们的家人。事实上,圣经中记载的第一起谋杀案就发生在亲兄弟之间,其原因正是不受控制的愤怒。(创4:3-8)

圣经早有预言,在末后,无法抑制的恼怒、恶言、和大发雷霆将成为典型的常见行为。使徒保罗告诉我们,这些乃是情欲的果子:“情欲的事都是显而易见的,就如奸淫、污秽、邪荡、拜偶像、邪术、仇恨、争竞、忌恨、恼怒、结党、纷争、异端。”(加5:19,20)

我之所以讲这个主题,是因为有人认为坏脾气是遗传特质,不必高度重视。他们声称,只要你的脾气是零星发作的,就不必担心。“那只是你性格和本性的一部分。”然而,圣经却将发怒列为情欲的事,意思就是要加以重视,不可掉以轻心。你不能说:“我们家人都是这样”,或说“我控制不住,我就是这种暴脾气!”圣经教导:这是罪,没有什么借口可讲。

发怒的人并未意识到他们至少暂时是被邪灵控制,或说是被鬼附身了。当你发怒时,是魔鬼在作怪,而当你意识到时,情欲的果子早已结出。

昂贵的商品

意大利有句谚语:“发怒是一种极为昂贵的商品。”(注1)据说,一名很有天赋的运动员因一时怒气发作,攻击了他的教练,结果瞬间的爆发使他赔付了三千二百万美元!无独有偶,你或许听过重量级拳王迈克•泰森在一次比赛中发狂的报道,他觉得仅仅用拳头击打伊万德•霍利菲尔德还不够,于是一怒之下咬掉了霍利菲尔德的一小块耳朵!这次发飙使他损失了数百万美元。

如果查考圣经,我相信你一定会为发怒的高昂代价惊讶不已。摩西与上帝同行四十年,最后,上帝竟不允许他带领以色列百姓进入应许之地。为什么?因为一次怒气的发作。对于以色列人长久的悖逆和顽梗不化,摩西已忍耐多年。终于有一天,摩西站在磐石旁边呼喊说:“你们这些背叛的人听我说:我为你们使水从这磐石中流出来吗?”(民20:10)之后,他在愤怒中击打磐石两下。上帝本没有让他击打磐石,而是吩咐他向磐石说话。上帝晓谕摩西和亚伦:“因为你们不信我,不在以色列人眼前尊我为圣,所以你们必不得领这会众进我所赐给他们的地去。”(民20:12)

至于在失去财产和家人方面,发怒的代价也可谓是天文数字。无数的婚姻、生意、及其它合作关系,皆因一方不经思考说出尖刻、狠毒的话而散伙。急躁出口的伤人之语其结果决不会轻易消逝。威尔•罗杰斯曾说:“除非你已做好了硬着陆的准备,否则不要飞到愤怒的云里。”(注2)

有害健康

我曾听人说:“发脾气有益健康。我们都需要时不时发泄发泄。”但我绝不赞成这一说法。实际上,我在圣经中看到了与此恰恰相反的证据。

在历代志下26章,我们看到乌西雅基本算是一位不错的国王。但他在晚年却变得心高气傲。依照主的命令,唯独祭司有权进入圣殿烧香。这一职分只限定在利未人和祭司阶层。但乌西雅心想:“这个规定不能约束我,我是国王!”

一天,乌西雅手拿香炉,径直走进圣殿,要在香坛上烧香。利未人看到王来了,就率领八十名祭司拦住他。他们说:“乌西雅啊,你没有权利做祭司的工作。那是利未子孙特有的职分。经文中对此有明确的记载。”王一听这话,就怒气发作。圣经记载:“乌西雅就发怒,手拿香炉要烧香,他向祭司发怒的时候,在耶和华殿中香坛旁众祭司面前,额上忽然发出大麻风。”(代下26:19)王因怒气发作而患病。事实上,“乌西雅王长大麻风直到死日。”(代下26:21)

有时我在想,有多少人是因心中翻腾的怒气和仇恨而患病呢。经上说:“喜乐的心,乃是良药;”(箴17:22)如果这是真的,那与之相对的情况也是真理,即,愤怒、仇恨、以及不饶恕人的精神会使人患病。基督徒必须靠着耶稣学会治服一切的愤恨。

并非智慧的标记

传道书7章9节说:“你不要心里急躁恼怒,因为恼怒存在愚昧人的怀中。”这是愤怒的另一个负面结果——人们会认为原来你的智商并没有那么高。人在发怒时的所言所行是聪明人不会说也不会做的。在怒气中摔碗或用头撞墙决非聪明之举!我曾听过这么一句话:“锅里的水越少,开的越快。”然而在这个世界上,却有人欣赏这种愚蠢的行为。比如,我曾和一伙人在一家机械厂工作。在这个地方,发脾气被认为是具有“男子汉气概”。工人们在维修柴油机时动不动就发脾气。具体表现是:喊叫、跺脚、骂人、扔工具、使劲儿摔东西。令我惊讶的是,这种幼稚的行为竟然能博得众人的称赞!

不受约束、不受控制的怒气常是缺乏判断力的标志。托马斯•凯姆帕斯曾说:“怒气进入心中,智慧随之离去。”(注3)所以要记得,如果你常常向人动怒,不久,你就会变成“没脑子”了。

义怒?

说了这么多关于发怒的问题,我现在必须要补充一点:并非所有的愤怒都是绝对不好的。怒气就像火,控制得当就能成为一种很好的力量。比如内燃机,它里面“可控制的火”能驱动汽车,我们每周去教堂靠的就是它。做饭用的也是某种类型的火,许多人家里还是用火取暖。因此,火若能受到控制就十分有益。倘若失控,其结果将是灾难性的。

愤怒也是如此。亚里士多德曾说:“谁都会发火;这很容易。但在恰当的时间,本着正确的意图,以合适的力度,用正确的方式,向合适的人发怒,却非每个人都能作得到,这很难。”衡量,疏导,并控制这种内在的“火”需要多加练习和忍耐。

耶稣曾否动过怒?是的。祂失控了吗?不,一次也没有。新约圣经中记载:“耶稣进入圣殿,赶出殿里做买卖的人,推倒兑换银钱之人的桌子和卖鸽子之人的凳子,也不许人拿着器具从殿里经过。便教训他们说:经上不是记着说‘我的殿必称为万国祷告的殿’吗?你们倒使它成为贼窝了。”(可11:15-17)

上帝的旨意是要祂的殿成为万民祷告的神圣之所。那里是耶和华可畏的居所。然而,犹太人却使其成了一处臭气熏天的牲口圈,或说是跳蚤市场。当地的商人将各种动物带进圣殿外院,企图从远方而来的朝圣者身上牟取暴利。所有人都在讨价还价,除了他们的吵嚷声、牛鸣羊叫、以及鸽子的聒噪外,你几乎很难听到其它声音。耶稣来到圣殿的外院,目睹了眼前的混乱和嘈杂,于是一种神圣的愤怒显露在祂脸上。祂带着能力和权柄走了过去,拿起一条捆绑牛羊的绳索,作成了一杆小鞭子,握在手中。然后祂用洪亮的声音说:“把这些东西拿去。”(约2:16)

祂的话大有能力,所有贪婪的奸商不敢质问祂的权柄,争先恐后地逃离了圣殿。随后,耶稣推翻了兑换银钱之人的桌子,那些钱币叮铃当啷地掉在地上,与鸽子毛混杂在一起。显然,上帝的儿子发怒了。我们称之为“义怒”。以弗所书4章26节说:“生气却不要犯罪。”毫无疑问,人可能会有义怒,生气却不犯罪。当摩西从西奈山下来,看到以色列人敬拜金牛犊时,他所表现的就是这种愤怒。

上帝也有发怒的时候,但祂的怒气从未失控。这也是基督徒生活中唯一可以表现的怒气。上帝管教我们的时候,也在衡量着祂的怒气,因为祂的目的是要我们得益处。同样,父母永不可在怒气失控的情况下管教儿女。当儿女犯错时,生气并没有错,但我们决不可允许这种情绪激起不公正的惩罚。总要本着爱来管教儿女。父母的管教是为了纠错,而不是寻求报复。

且慢动怒

拉尔夫•沃尔多•爱默生曾说:“我们都会发火,只不过程度不同。”(注4)圣经上并没有说绝对不可发怒,而是说“慢慢地动怒”。(雅1:19)请注意以下的经文:“暴怒的人挑启争端;忍怒的人止息纷争。”(箴15:18)“不轻易发怒的,胜过勇士;治服己心的,强如取城。”(箴16:32)那么,所罗门是说“决不发怒”,还是说“不轻易发怒”或“治服己心”呢?务要控制自己的怒气,因为你若不控制它,它便要控制你!

雅各书1章19和20节告诫我们:“我亲爱的弟兄们,这是你们所知道的。但你们各人要快快地听,慢慢地说,慢慢地动怒,因为人的怒气并不成就上帝的义。”基督徒应该总是慢慢地动怒,快快地平静。我们的血液中需要注入一点“圣化的冷却液”,以防怒火中烧。

因何发怒?

我们来看看引起愤怒的代表性因素。以下是我平时观察到的六点:

1、挫折

当人遭受挫折,感到自己无法控制局面时,通常便会发怒。这一现象甚至从幼童时期就会出现。我们两岁的儿子内森曾经有一个阶段特别想穿爸爸的鞋。小家伙儿来到我们的房间,打开壁橱,把我所有的鞋都鼓捣了出来。但问题是我的鞋(44码)太大,而他的脚太小。结果一迈步就摔倒了。瞧瞧,小孩子也会遭遇挫折!

遗憾的是,我们有些人从未走出挫折。我曾见到某些成年人,由于感到自己无法控制某个局面,或不能完成某些工作,就变得非常沮丧、泄气。有时这种挫败感会激起他们的怒气。易怒的人需要明白如何控制自己的脾气,不要轻易灰心丧气。基督徒当以平静、和善著称,因为我们拥有和平之君!

2、缺乏赏识

疏忽也能激起愤怒。有些人之所以生气是因为感到自己不被赏识,或是努力未受关注。例如,我的妻子有时会花数小时来烹制一顿丰盛的大餐,我回家后却说:“不就是一顿饭吗,至于动用这么多锅碗瓢盆吗?”(因为我是家里的“经济学家”,所以首先注意到的就是这些。不过我也帮助妻子刷碗!)这样的话真让人不舒服,妻子大概有充分的理由生气。

3、做了错事

我还发现,当人得知自己理亏或做了错事时,通常会发怒。在辩论中,最落下风的人通常会意识到他所维护的论点其实毫无意义。不管结论多么荒谬,只要人在辩论时能泰然自若、面不改色,自会呈现出巨大的力量。换句话说,倘若一个人在维护自己的立场时横眉怒目、出言不逊,别人自然会怀疑他的观点是否正确。

该隐为何要杀亚伯呢?亚伯的祭物蒙了悦纳,而该隐的却招致了主的不悦。亚伯行的好,而该隐做错了,所以该隐一怒之下杀了弟弟。这样的事今天仍旧在发生。当人意识到自己的错误之后,有时会试图用大嚷和发怒来掩盖。

4、饥饿与疲乏

人在饥饿或疲乏时,也容易生气。当我和妻子饥饿或睡眠不足时,我们总是试着控制自己,不去争论。结婚一周年前后,我们从东海岸出发,经过长途飞行,终于到了萨克拉门托(美国加利福尼亚州首府)机场,当时我们又累又饿。家人特意拿着鲜花和气球来到机场为我们庆祝。之后,我们还得驾车四个小时才能到科乌洛的家。刚刚离开机场,我们就展开了“出色”的争吵,难道是因为气球不够漂亮吗?

5、积蓄愤恨

有些脾气暴躁的人在心中安置了“定时炸弹”。当被冒犯时,他们看似不动声色,泰然自若, 有时甚至会面对微笑,但心中却做了记录。随着触犯次数的累积,“定时炸弹”中的“炸药”也不断积累。或许大家见识过这样的人。每次分歧都是在积蓄“炸药”,有时这一过程可能会长达数年。但终于有一天,当再次被触犯时,这颗装满“炸药”的“定时炸弹”突然引爆,其威力足以送你到另一个世界。

6、触犯了自尊

有人发怒是因为自尊心受了伤害,甚至想要报复。例如犹大王亚撒,因为先知责备他做了错误的决定,他便恼恨那先知。圣经记载:“亚撒因此恼恨先见,将他囚在监里。”(代下16:10)亚撒王心高气傲,抵触这神圣的信息,心存怒气。他不仅囚禁了先知,还牵连了百姓。(第10节)上帝不喜悦王的行为,之后不久,亚撒就死于严重的疾病,很可能是痛风。

如何控制愤怒

最后,我想提供控制愤怒的七条建议。

1、祈祷

你或许会想:“生气的时候还祷告?那可是我最不想祈祷的时候!”或许事实的确如此。然而你最不想祷告的时候往往是最需要祈祷的时刻。

祷告时要提说圣经中的应许,包括那些使内心平静的应许。上帝的话给了我们“又宝贵、又极大的应许”,藉着这些,我们“就得与上帝的性情有份”。(彼后1:4)耶稣因为有自上帝而来的平安,所以祂的情绪总是在圣灵的控制之下。

2、回答柔和

不论惹动怒气的人是你还是他人,实践箴言15章1节的忠告有益无害:“回答柔和,使怒消退;言语暴戾,触动怒气。”我经历过许多不得不加以干预或调停的局面。有时正在给别人做婚姻辅导,突然有人说出一句尖刻的话,可以说是“揭人伤疤”。我总是立刻停止辅导,舒缓局面。否则,这段对话会骤然变成一场冲突,彻底失控。难怪很多家庭的破裂都是因为刺耳、粗暴、和尖酸刻薄的言语所致。

3、冷静

对付愤怒的另一个秘诀就是不要立刻回复。你或许听过“数十法”(在进行任何回复之前,先数到十)。据说,这一方法最早是由托马斯•杰斐逊(美国第三任总统)提出的。切勿在愤怒时开口讲话,总要先冷静片刻。时间往往是治疗愤怒的最佳疗法。

4、远避不良友伴

有些人之所以易怒,是因为周围全是脾气暴躁之人,由于长时间耳濡目染了这样的榜样,以致他们觉得这是一种正常行为。只有与正常人接触,他们才会明白发怒并非寻常的交流方式。

所罗门王建议:“好生气的人,不可与他结交;暴怒的人,不可与他来往,恐怕你效法他的行为,自己就陷在网罗里。”(箴22:24, 25)中国有句古话叫:“近朱者赤,近墨者黑。”

5、运动

运动可以使身体释放出一种有助于保持镇静的安多芬(又名:内啡肽)。有人之所以发怒,是因为体内充斥着大量的有害物质,由于身体不适所致。这时应去户外活动筋骨,或者跑跑步,消耗一下体力,释放由压力所致的紧张情绪。

6、良好的音乐

音乐具有不凡的效能。当扫罗焦躁不安时,大卫为他做了什么呢?为扫罗演奏音乐!然而,并非任何音乐都能奏效,必须是良好的音乐才能达到此种效果。有些音乐我一听就想发火儿!实际上,曾经有人做过这样的医学实验,就是测量人在听摇滚乐时脉搏跳动的情况。脉搏会随着音乐节奏的加快而加快,不久就陷入一种疯狂的状态。许多异教文化中都有战阵舞,他们围着火堆,随着战鼓的节奏跳动,其实是要进入一种狂暴的状态,预备作战。或许在上战场时,怒气是有益的。但当你试图保持冷静时,它可就有害无益了。

7、默想基督

使心灵安宁的最佳方法莫过于默想基督及其生平了。祂是世上最温柔的人。

还记得吗?当撒玛利亚人拒绝接待基督时,雅各和约翰想让火从天降下来烧灭他们。(路9:51-55)但主对这两个“雷子”说:“你们的心如何,你们并不知道。我来可不是要展示这种精神。”这两个门徒心中充满了复仇之念,满是自私、报复性的愤恨。相比之下,耶稣却满有柔和、文雅、温良的精神。

当耶稣被挂在十字架上时,全世界的命运悬而未决,这端赖乎魔鬼能否激起耶稣的怒气。其实,从客西马尼园直到十字架上羞辱的死,耶稣所忍受的一切痛苦与羞辱都是魔鬼引诱祂犯罪的伎俩。撒但的目标就是让耶稣发怒。然而耶稣自始至终都没有动怒,难道你不为此而深表感激吗?正因为主保持了冷静,你我才享有了救恩。

离了基督我们能做什么?一事无成。若靠着祂呢?凡事都能。“爱袮律法的人有大平安,什么都不能使他们绊脚。”(诗119:165)若邀请耶稣进入我们的内心,祂就赐我们“出人意外的平安”。和平之君会在你心中做工,并藉着你成就超乎想象之事。祂曾为我成就这事。我过去总是打架,惹出各种各样的麻烦。但自从成为基督徒之后,我再也没有打架,那并不是因为我没有斗殴的机会。

主使我的生活发生了巨大的转变,祂也能为你行同样的大事,帮助你控制自己的怒气,因为上帝的灵能改变你。当除去心中一切的怨恨苦毒,以及一切从内心中吞噬你的不良情绪。当向主祈求平静与安宁,这样你便能在荣耀里与祂同行。

附注:

1、引自德雷珀的书《基督教世界语录》,艾迪泽•德雷珀编纂(惠顿:丁道尔屋出版社),1992年。

2、威尔•罗杰斯,引自《作家和演说家,格言警句14,000》,E.C.麦肯兹(纽约:格林威治书局),1980年。

3、托马斯•康帕斯,引自《作家和演说家,格言警句14,000》,E.C.麦肯兹(纽约:格林威治书局),1980年。

4、拉尔夫•沃尔多•爱默生,引自《7,700插图百科全书》,保罗•李•坦恩(罗克威尔,马里兰州:保险出版商),1979年。

英文字体:【

英文:

Age of Rage

by Doug Batchelor


An Amazing Fact: "Road Rage" is a term that defines an alarming new phenomenon in North America. Angry motorists shoot and kill or deliberately crash their cars into drivers whom they feel have performed some inconsiderate maneuver. This growing problem is so real that the Automobile Association of America is running a series of TV adds to teach drivers how to keep their cool and avoid becoming a victim.

A young mother began studying the Scriptures and believing the Bible truth. Her live-in boyfriend was infuriated because she insisted that they either get married or separate. One evening as she was nailing a copy of the Ten Commandments up on the wall, he suddenly became so enraged that he grabbed the hammer out of her hand and began to bludgeon her with it. When he thought he had killed her, he then went into the next room and killed their 10-month-old baby.

When the couple s landlord heard the commotion, he came in and shot and killed the enraged father. Miraculously, the mother survived with minor injuries. I learned of the terrible tragedy when the woman contacted me and my associate, Pastor Ray Bailey, to conduct the funeral for this beautiful little baby boy who had been murdered because his father lost his temper.

Fruit of the Flesh
We are truly living in the "Age of Rage." People are simmering and seething inside. Ulcers and antacids are not the only byproducts of this angry world. Daily the headlines are peppered with stories of people who lost their tempers and then committed some horrific act of violence against total strangers, fellow workers, or (even more commonly) members of their own families. In fact, the first act of murder recorded in the Bible happened between brothers as a result of uncontrolled anger (Genesis 4:3-8).

Prophecy warns us that in the last days unbridled anger, tirades, and temper tantrums would become typical behavior. The apostle Paul tells us this is one of the fruits of the flesh. "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath." Galatians 5:19, 20, NKJV.

I want to address this topic because some people think that a bad temper is just an inherited idiosyncrasy and shouldn t be taken too seriously. They say that as long as your temper tantrums are sporadic, there s no need to worry. "It s just part of your character, part of your nature." However, the Bible lists outbursts of wrath as one of the works of the flesh, which means that it is not something to be taken lightly. You cannot say, "Well, that s just the way my family is" or "I can t help it; I m just Italian (or Irish)!" Biblically it s a sin, and there s no excuse.

Those who lose their tempers do not realize that they are at least momentarily demon-possessed. When you lose your temper, the devil is the one who finds it, and before you know it you ll be manifesting the fruits of the flesh.

A Costly Commodity
An Italian proverb says that "anger is a very expensive commodity."1 I heard about a talented athlete who lost his temper and struck his coach. That momentary eruption cost him a $32 million contract! Similarly, you might have read in the news last year that heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson popped a cork during one match and decided it wasn t enough that he was permitted to hit Evander Holyfield. He lost his temper and decided to bite off a piece of his ear! That outburst cost him millions, as well.

If you start tracing through the Bible, I think you d be surprised at the staggering cost of losing one s temper. After experiencing 40 years of miracles, Moses was not permitted to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Why? Because he lost his temper. He had managed and controlled it through years of their persistent rebellion and stubbornness. But then one day, Moses shouted while standing by the rock, "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?" Numbers 20:10. Then he lifted his hand and struck the rock twice in a rage. Moses wasn t supposed to hit the rock at all. He was supposed to speak to it. God told Moses and Aaron, "Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." Verse 12.

The cost of hot tempers is astronomical in terms of lost fortunes and families, as well. Countless marriages, businesses, and other partnerships have been dissolved because one party or the other uttered some very cutting, toxic words without thinking. Wounding words spoken in haste are never easily retracted. Will Rogers said, "Don t fly into a rage, unless you re prepared for a rough landing."2

Ruined Health
I ve heard some people say: "Losing your temper is good for your health. We all need to vent from time to time." I don t believe that for a minute. In fact, I see evidence in the Bible that the opposite is actually true.

In 2 Chronicles chapter 26, we read that King Uzziah was basically a good king. But toward the end of his life, he became proud. Only the priests were supposed to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. It was a duty restricted to the Levites and the priesthood. But Uzziah thought: "That doesn t apply to me. I m the king!"

One day Uzziah took a sacred censer and marched right into the holy place to burn incense. When the Levites saw the king coming, a contingent of 80 priests confronted him as he stood there in the temple with the incense censer in his hand. They said: "Uzziah, it s not right for you to do the priest s job. It is for the sons of Levi. This is very clear in the Scriptures." At that, King Uzziah became furious. "Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar." Verse 19. The king lost his temper, blew his cool, and got sick. As a matter of fact, Uzziah eventually died of leprosy (verse 21).

I sometimes wonder how many people are physically ill because they are simmering or bitter inside. The Bible says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." Proverbs 17:22. If that s true, then it s probably also safe to say that the opposite would be true-that anger and bitterness and an unforgiving spirit can make a person sick. Christians must learn, through Jesus, to conquer all bitter anger.

Not a Mark of Intelligence
Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools." This is another negative result of anger-it will lessen your perceived IQ. When people lose their tempers, they usually say and do things that intelligent people don t say and do. Someone who starts throwing dishes or banging his head against a wall when he loses his temper never looks very bright! I ve heard it said that "The less water in a pot, the quicker it boils." Yet there are people in the world who respect that kind of lunacy. For example, I used to work with a bunch of men in a mechanics shop. There it was considered "macho" to lose your temper. From time to time, one of the mechanics would get frustrated while working on a diesel engine. He d start screaming and stomping and cursing and throwing tools and slamming things. I was amazed that this type of childish behavior was nearly applauded!

Unbridled, uncontrolled anger is usually a sign of poor judgment. Thomas Kempass said, "When anger enters the mind, wisdom departs."3 Remember, if you are constantly giving everybody "a piece of your mind," soon you won t have any left!

Good Anger?
Now, having said all this about temper and uncontrolled anger, I must add that not all anger is necessarily bad. Anger is like fire. It can be a very good force-if controlled. Take an internal combustion engine, for example. Its "controlled fire" propels the cars that take us to church each week. We also cook food with a type of fire, and many of us heat our houses with fire. So fire, when controlled, can be very beneficial. But uncontrolled, it is devastating.

Anger works exactly the same way. Aristotle said: "Anybody can become angry; that s easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way-this is not within everybody s power and is not easy." Measuring, channeling, and directing this "fire" within takes a little more practice and patience.

Did Jesus ever become angry? Yes. Did He ever lose control? No, not once. You read in the New Testament that "Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer [allow] that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves." Mark 11:15-17.

It was God s design for His temple to be a holy house of prayer for all nations. It was to be a reverent dwelling place for Jehovah, but instead, it had become more like a smelly stockyard or flea market. Local businessmen had brought all kinds of animals into the courtyard to sell to pilgrims who had come to offer sacrifices. Everyone was arguing over prices, and it was hard to hear anything except the lowing of oxen, the bleating of sheep, and the cooing of doves. When Jesus entered the courtyard and witnessed this cacophony of confusion, a holy indignation was revealed in His face. With power and authority He walked over and took a string of cords that were used for tying up the sacrifice victims. He made a little whip and held it in His hands. Then He said with trumpet tones, "Take these things hence." John 2:16. There was so much power in His word that all the greedy salesmen, without ever questioning his authority, began to flee. Next Jesus flipped over the money tables, and the coins went bouncing off mingled with dove feathers. The Son of God was clearly angry. We call this "righteous indignation." Ephesians 4:26 says, "Be ye angry, and sin not." So it is definitely possible to have a righteous indignation-to be angry-and not sin. This is the type of anger Moses displayed when he descended from Mt. Sinai and found the people worshiping a golden calf.

God has moments of wrath, but it is never uncontrolled. This is the only type of anger that should ever be demonstrated in the life of Christians. God measures His anger when He disciplines us because it s designed to bring about good. Likewise, parents should never discipline their children in uncontrolled anger. It s not wrong to be angry when they ve done something wrong, but we must never let those feelings provoke unjust punishment. Always discipline children in love. The purpose of parental correction is to bring reform, not to seek revenge.

Have a Long Fuse
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "We all boil-just at different degrees."4 The Bible doesn t say to never be angry. It says, "Do not be angry quickly." Notice these Scriptures: "A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife." Proverbs 15:18. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." Proverbs 16:32. Now, does Solomon say, "He who is never angry," or does he say "he who is slow to anger" and "he who rules his spirit"? You must have control, because what you do not control is controlling you!

James 1:19 and 20 cautions: "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." A Christian should always be slow to heat up and quick to cool off. We need a little bit of "sanctified antifreeze" in our veins to keep us from boiling over!

What Causes Anger?
Let s next address some of the things that typically cause anger. Following are six specific things I have observed.

  • Frustration
    When people get frustrated because they feel like they ve lost control, they often get angry. This pattern can start at a very young age. Nathan, our two-year-old, is going through a stage where he wants to wear Daddy s shoes. As soon as he comes into our room, he opens up the closet and pulls out all of my shoes; then he tries to walk in them. The problem is that I wear a size 11, and his foot is tiny. He gets his foot in the shoe, but then as soon as he tries to take a step, he falls. Boy, does he ever get frustrated!

    Unfortunately, some of us never grow out of that. I ve seen grown men get very frustrated if they feel like they ve lost control of a situation or that they re not getting anything accomplished. And when they get frustrated, they sometimes lose their tempers. A person who is given to fits of anger and temper tantrums needs to know how to keep a grip on it and not become so easily frustrated. Christians are to be known as a people who have peace, because we ve got the Prince of Peace!

  • Lack of Appreciation
    Neglect can also inspire anger. Some people get angry when they feel like they re not being appreciated or their efforts aren t noticed. For example, sometimes my wife will work for hours to cook a wonderful meal, and then I ll come home and say, "Did it really take that many pots to cook this meal?" (That s the first thing I ll notice because I m the economist in our family, and I also help Karen with the dishes!) She might get upset about a remark like that-probably with good reason.

  • In the Wrong
    I ve also noticed that when people know they are wrong, they ll often react with anger. In a debate, the person who becomes most frustrated is often recognizing the emptiness of the cause he s defending. When someone is calm and peaceful in his conclusions-no matter how ridiculous-there s a tremendous power present. On the other hand, when a person starts getting irritated and derogatory while defending his position, you automatically question whether or not it is the right one.

    Why did Cain kill Abel? Abel s sacrifice was received, while Cain s was not. Abel was right and Cain was wrong, so Cain became infuriated and killed his brother. That still happens today. A person who knows the error of his cause will sometimes try to compensate by getting loud and angry.

  • Hunger and Fatigue
    Some people get upset because of physical hunger and fatigue. Karen and I try to schedule all of our arguments for times when we re low on food and sleep! One time around our first anniversary, we arrived at the Sacramento airport feeling hungry and tired after a long flight from the East Coast. To help celebrate our anniversary, our family met us at the plane with flowers, balloons, and other special treats. Afterward we had to drive four hours up to our home in Covelo. No sooner had we left than we had a doozy of an argument-over balloons, no less!

  • Storing Up Resentment
    Some people with bad tempers participate in the "frequent flier program." When offended, they won t say anything right away, but they ll create a mental file and begin storing your "miles." You know the people I m talking about? They appear to smile through every incident of disagreement, but in reality they are marking up your card and placing it in the file. This might go on for years. Then one day, out of the blue, you ll do or say something offensive and they ll decide to send you on an international trip with the mileage points they ve been storing for you!

  • Offended Pride
    Other people become angry when someone injures their esteem. They may even want to retaliate. King Asa, for example, got upset because a prophet came and reproved him for a bad decision he had made. The Bible says, "Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing." 2 Chronicles 16:10. King Asa was proud, and he responded to the divine message by getting defensive and angry. Furthermore, he took his anger out not only on the prophet, but also on the people (verse 10). God was displeased with the king s behavior, and soon afterward Asa died of a severe malady-quite possibly gout.

    How to Control Your Anger
    I want to conclude by offering seven suggestions for how to control anger.

    1. Pray.
    Now you may be thinking: "Pray when I m angry? That s when I feel like it the least!" This may be true, but when you feel the least like praying, it s typically when you need it the most.

    As you pray, claim the promises in Scripture, including promises for peace. We have been given "exceeding great and precious promises" in God s Word, that through them we can be "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). Because Jesus had the peace of God, His emotions were always under the control of the Holy Spirit.

    2. Give a soft answer.
    Regardless of whether the anger begins with you or someone else, it helps to practice the counsel found in Proverbs 15:1: "A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger." I ve been in many situations where I ve had to intervene and mediate. Sometimes in the midst of a marriage counseling session, one person will suddenly throw a mean word in, "turning the knife" a little bit, so to speak. I always try to stop right away and say soothing things, because otherwise the discussion can flare up and get out of control very quickly. It s no wonder that so many families are falling apart when people say such harsh, cruel, and cutting things to one another.

    3. Cool off.
    Another secret for dealing with anger is not to respond too quickly. You ve probably heard the expression "Count to ten." Thomas Jefferson is the one given credit for having first said this. When you re angry, always take a break before you say anything. Time is often the greatest remedy for anger.

    4. Avoid bad company.
    Some people get angry because they observe outbursts of temper all the time and think it s normal behavior. Not until they get around functional people do they find out that s not the way to communicate.

    King Solomon advised, "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul." Proverbs 22:24, 25. You become like the people with whom you associate.

    5. Exercise.
    Exercise releases the endorphins that help you to cope. Some people are angry because their bodies are just congested and they don t feel good. Get out and run a little bit. This will release some of the energy and tension that sometimes comes from stress.

    6. Good music.
    Music is a powerful thing. What did David do for Saul when he would become brooding and upset? He played music! But it wasn t just any music; it was the right kind of music. I ve heard some music that will instantly make me angry! As a matter of fact, they ve done medical research by taking the pulse of a person at a rock concert. It accelerates practically to the beat of the music, and the person gets worked up into a frenzy. The war dances that many pagan cultures engaged in-dancing around the fire and beating the drums-was designed to work them into a frenzy in preparation for battle. Rage might be beneficial when you re going to war, but not when you re trying to keep your cool.

    7. Contemplate Christ.
    The most important thing that brings peace into your mind is contemplating Christ and His life. He was the meekest of the meek.

    Remember when James and John wanted to burn up the Samaritans because they didn t treat Jesus right (Luke 9:51-55)? The Lord told those "sons of thunder": "You don t know what spirit you are of. That s not the spirit I came to demonstrate." The disciples were filled with vengeance-selfish, vindictive anger. By contrast, the spirit of Jesus was soft, gentle, and meek.

    When Jesus hung upon the cross, the destiny of the world was in the balance, and it hinged on whether or not the devil could get Jesus to blow it. Everything about the cross-indeed, everything about the treatment of Christ from the Garden of Gethsemane up until He died-was designed to entice Him to sin. Satan s goal was to get Jesus to lose His temper. Aren t you thankful He didn t? Because the Lord kept His cool, you and I get to keep our salvation.

    How much can you do without Christ? Nothing. How much can you do with Christ? All things. "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." Psalm 119:165. When we invite Jesus into our hearts, He will give us the peace that passes understanding. The Prince of Peace can do things in and through you that you did not know were possible. He s done it for me. I used to get into fights and all kinds of trouble. But since I ve become a Christian, I ve never been involved in a single fist fight. And it isn t because I haven t had opportunities.

    The Lord has made a big difference in my life, and He can do the same for you. He can help you get control, because the Spirit of God will bring that into your life. Let go of all the bitterness and the things that are eating you up inside, and ask Him for peace and serenity so you can walk with Him in glory.

    1 Quoted in Draper s Book of Quotations for the Christian World, compiled by Edythe Draper (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.), ©1992.

    2 Will Rogers, quoted in 14,000 Quips & Quotes for Writers and Speakers, compiled by E.C. McKenzie (New York: Greenwich House), ©1980.

    3 Thomas Kempass, quoted in 14,000 Quips & Quotes for Writers and Speakers, compiled by E.C. McKenzie (New York: Greenwich House), ©1980.

    4 Ralph Waldo Emerson, quoted in Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations, by Paul Lee Tan (Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Publishers), ©1979.