A biblical study of anger: the sins of spreading strife and contention

reading-bible_2316_1024x805Unjustified anger is fleshly based and usually is a reaction to others when we feel they, or  someone they are associated with, or something has caused embarrassment to us, or our best made plans to fail. This unjustified anger is not only a sin, but if we do not learn how to scriptural manage it, it will lead us to commit other sins that are totally out of our character or we normally would not even think to do. This flesh-filled and flesh-centered anger and the wrath that accompanies it has a natural tendency to bring out the very worst in our character even towards those that we love and so much more towards those outside our family circle and closest friends. In the previous installment of this series, the real possibility of cruelty and the spreading of gossip and lies out of our anger and our strong desires to “get even” with the object of our wrath was considered from a scriptural viewpoint.

It is easy when we are angry to immediately retaliate by spreading contention and strife to others around us. There’s an old expression that we all know too well – “misery loves company” and the same can be said when we are angry. No one likes to be angry alone and if we are honest with ourselves, the first thing we do is to share what we are angry about with others. We do this for a variety of reasons including wanting others to feel our pain, to have others justify our anger, or to even provoke others into action on our behalf. Solomon, the man who asked God for wisdom, wrote, It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman (Proverbs 21:19). Although Solomon focused on women, a contentious person is not gender specific – there are contentious men and women. A contentious person is someone who enjoys creating conflict. They thrive when there is a fight or argument around and do not hesitate to start a fight over things that at times, do not matter in the scheme of things. They especially enjoy this when they are already angry. Bringing others into their anger allows them to have what they perceive as control over the situation. It allows them to feel justified as others seem to agree with them. Later within that same book, Solomon wrote, An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression (Proverbs 29:22). There are some people that just enjoy being angry. They enjoy the raw emotion and they also enjoy pitting people against each other and watching others fight if they can. When our anger grows and becomes fury, it becomes blinding, meaning that we can no longer distinguish between right and wrong. We become bent on revenge and seeking what we believe and see as “justice” often not realizing that we’ve made things worse.

Solomon was extremely wise when one considers the various topics that he wrote upon. Regarding anger and wrath, Solomon was led by the spirit of the Lord to write, Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife. (Proverbs 30:33) There are two important observations about wrath in this verse. The first is the obvious – wrath will always bring forth strife just as if you twist someone’s nose it will cause a nosebleed. If you allow your anger to grow into wrath to the extent you begin to convince others you are somehow justified, you will soon be spreading strife to others. The second point, a subtle warning, is the danger of the forcing of wrath; this phrase refers to simply trying to convince others that our anger is justified because of certain circumstances. When we try to bring and inflame others about our perceived injustice, we are actually setting the stage for more conflict. Sometimes this new conflict will be against the one we believe deserves it; but then again, there is always a chance that our attempts to get others to see our side could backfire. In either case, it pushes us farther from the Lord, can damage our relationships, and simply leads to more problems.