Together in Christ: 'A Lit Fuse' — Proverbs 29:22

Sunday, September 8, 2024

An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.
— Proverbs 29:22 NLT

Key Thought

Anger is an emotional response. The paths that our anger takes as we express it are our responsibility. Unfortunately, many of these paths are learned and ingrained behaviors (from life experiences in angry and hostile contexts) and socially reinforced behaviors (we learn to get what we want by exerting our anger). Uncontrolled internal anger morphs a person into a lit fuse ready to bring all sorts of destructive and sinful problems upon the people toward whom the angry person feels rage. The destructive and sinful problems also crash back into the angry person's life. This is why it is so important for us to see the key point in the very center of our passage and the heart of the anger problem: "hot-tempered person."

While we can learn to better respond to others when angry, that doesn't ultimately deal with our core problem — the hot-tempered person in our heart. We can't get rid of the cobwebs in the corner until we get rid of the spider. Neither are we going to be able to get a suitable handle on our angry behaviors until we deal with the "hot-tempered person" living in our hearts! Our internal rage is the fuel keeping the"hot-tempered person" in our hearts on fire. We must address this spider in the dark corners of our hearts! All of us need to begin a prayerful dialogue with the Lord Jesus and ask Him to use the Holy Spirit to help us answer some key questions:

  • What lies behind the rage inside of me?
  • Do I have hurts, abuses, unfairnesses, wounds, sins against me I keep alive inside of me, giving rise to my internal anger?
  • Do I carry guilt — proper guilt for hidden sin or improper guilt because people have shamed me — that I have left unaddressed?
  • Did I learn to react with aggressive anger from people around me?
  • Have I learned to use my rage unleashed as anger toward others to get what I want, to motivate others, or to protect my insecurities?

This is not a comprehensive list, but an experienced and properly trained pastoral counselor or therapist can help significantly address these issues and others. What Jesus and the Scriptures teach us can help us with repentance, forgiveness, insecurity, confession, and abuse issues that we must address. [1] However, we must not dodge the underlying "hot-tempered person" fueling our internal rage. Thankfully, we have great Christian resources, the support of Christian friends, and the work of the Holy Spirit to help us work on our anger problems in three dimensions: [2]

  1. Learning to control our rage responses when dealing with situations, people, and issues that make us angry.
  2. Dealing with the "hot-tempered person" living inside us who needs to be healed of the wounds, insecurities, modeling, abuses, and hostility endured.
  3. Inviting the Holy Spirit to be at work inside us through Spiritual practices that open us to the Spirit's transforming work.

We do not have to live all our lives feeling like a lit fuse ready to explode on someone else in anger. Let's hear the call to not only sweep the cobwebs out of the dark, angry corners of our lives but also deal with the spider that keeps weaving the cobwebs of destruction in our relationships!

[1] Matthew 18, Ephesians 4, and James 1 all offer a balance of corrective responses as spiritual moves for internal growth that crowds out the fuel of anger. While we want to kill "the spider" in the corner, we must replace simply eliminating bad things is not enough. We must replace it with Spirit-empowered goodness — Matthew 12:43-45.
[2] Lying behind these three practices are Scriptural principles — James 5:13-20; 1 John 1:5-10; James 1:19-27; Ephesians 4:17-32; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Galatians 5:22-23.

Today's Prayer

Almighty God, I need Jesus' help as the Great Physician of my soul. I need strength to adjust my responses to others when I am angry. In addition, dear Father, I need the Holy Spirit's transformation * to work in my heart and help me deal with the "hot-tempered person" inside of me. Forgive me for the past times when I rationalized my anger. I want to be Your child of salt and light, bringing good, redemptive flavor to each conversation and the light of grace into difficult situations and with challenging people. ^ O, Holy Spirit, please produce Your godly fruit in me as You transform me to be more like Jesus. ~ Amen.

* 2 Corinthians 3:18.
^ Matthew 5:13-16; Colossians 4:5-6.
~ Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Related Scripture Readings

  • James 1:19-27
  • Ephesians 4:17-32, 5:15-21

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Illustration

Illustration of Proverbs 29:22 NLT — An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.