The scriptures declare to the one residing within habitual, unrighteous anger: you are a fool. Yet the most disastrous consequence to foolishness is not the folly, or the label thereof – but the devastation such folly brings upon the eternal state of one’s soul. One cannot claim Christ as Lord and remain in bondage to the oppressive master that binds the angry soul.
The angry man stands to lose so much more than reputation, his control over things, his relationships, and his privileges. This tormented man stands to forfeit his soul if repentance is not sought with the entirety of his being. This is evidenced most clearly in the face of his confrontation – for if he despises correction, he despises wisdom; if he despises wisdom, he despises his own soul – for the one whom mocks wisdom will indeed fall victim to his own desires. He shall return to his folly like a dog returns to vomit to lap it up.
As the sluggard, the habitually angry man declares, “I will repent tomorrow! I will, in time, turn from my ‘anger problem’” or he declares, “I have no anger problem!” – yet he does not know the hour at which his soul shall be demanded for retribution; he does not note the brevity of life. In the hardness of his heart, which is so hell-bent in the wisdom of his own eyes, the angry fool makes mockery of the redemption given through the blood of Christ.
In a final act of folly, he denies his sin, returning to dust; having renounced the very One whom gave him life and purpose. In a final act of folly – his true master is revealed. In the final act of folly, he takes upon the fullness of calamity in wrath insurmountable, wrath unquenchable. In foolishness, he gave himself over to the insatiable lust of anger, bitterness, and strife.
Upon that day he shall cry for wisdom and she shan’t be heard; he shall seek her to no avail; he shall grasp at the wind, seeking her hand – yet shall not lay hold to it. If only the fool would have turned and accepted his reproach, having borne the shame and godly sorrow exhibiting true repentance!
There is no wisdom in the fool who vents his unrighteous anger. There is no prudence in the fool who shows his annoyance at once. The wise hold back their temper and overlook an insult. The wise, having grasped wisdom tightly in their bosom, have yielded to patience and discernment. If we are God’s people, we are marked out, as Ephesians 4:2-3 says, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
How might the angry soul preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace if he knows not peace? Proverbs 18:6-7 shows that “The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouth invite a beating. The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.” Do we think that the angry soul only brings strife to himself? Do we think that his words will only be a snare to his own life? His words cause vast devastation to all that surround him. A snare set to trap will catch any who tread upon its path. Why else do we see Solomon warn his son in Proverbs 22:24-25 to “not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.”
The angry person stirs up conflict; the hot-tempered person commits many sins – yet the one who is patient calms a quarrel. My brothers and sisters – we have no room for the angry man to remain angry within the church. We have no room for the angry man to remain angry within his household. The nature of this sin is so devastating that all in his wake will be destroyed and consumed by his anger.
His words do not serve to build up – but to demolish. His words do not overflow from love, but of bitterness. His children are afraid to come to him with sins they wish to confess. His wife is afraid to come to him with petitions and concerns. Men avoid him, knowing there is no wisdom found in him. He is a constant, brewing storm – and all around him are walking within the eye of it, waiting for the hurricane to commence.
It is no small wonder that James brings such attention to one’s speech in chapter 3, which we will take a look at more closely in the following post.