When you think of the word “hot tempered” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? See the major problem with a hot tempered person is that they like a good fight and they will never back down! They will always insist upon having the last word in every argument. And the sad reality is that it can be very dangerous for them-self and others. There is a poem that my dear wife brought to my attention…..It’s about a dog and a cat that don’t see eye to eye, and neither one of them is willing to back down! And the story is narrated by a Chinese plate after he was told by the Old Dutch clock on the wall.
The Duel by Eugene Field
The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)
The gingham dog went "Bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "Mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I 'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)
The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw---
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate---
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)
Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)
See,the natural bent in society is to feed the flame, than to quench the angry fire with water. Bible talks about this! “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Gal 5:15. Conflicts only destroy the spirituality and happiness of each other…and sadly this is destroying the home and the church family. As Charles Bridges said “pride and passion on both sides strike together like two flints; and behold how great a matter a little fire kindles.” Anger by definition is “a violent passion of the mind excited by a real or supposed injury; usually accompanied with a tendency to take vengeance, or to obtain satisfaction from the offending party. This passion however varies in degrees of violence, and in ingenuous minds, may be attended only with a desire to reprove or chide the offender.”
THE BIBLE HAS A LOT TO SAY ABOUT AN ANGRY MAN OR WOMAN!
ANGER MAKES YOU CARELESS
Prov 14:16 “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” They don’t stop to think how their angry outbursts affect those around them. They "blow up" all over everyone, leaving them upset and perhaps fearful. Then they go along their merry way not paying any attention to the havoc they caused.
ANGER LEADS YOU TO MAKE WRONG CHOICES
Dan 3:19-22 “Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king's order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” He lost some of his top military men because he was so angry with three Hebrew teenagers who would not bow down and worship his idol.
ANGER HAS NEGATIVE SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES
Prov 22:24-25 “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.” Nobody enjoys being around an angry, bitter, hateful person. They are depressing to be around and draining. They drag you down. Anger warps the personality and squeezes the joy out of the angry person’s life, replacing it with a "sour grapes" attitude.
ANGER HAS AND CAN HAVE NEGATIVE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES.
1 Kings 21:4-6 “And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food. But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, "Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?" And he said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, 'Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.' And he answered, 'I will not give you my vineyard.'" Do you know that studies on anger suggest that 60% to 80% of illness results from hostility? Emotions such as anger, envy, resentment, worry etc. can cause ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, strokes, heart trouble, headaches, hardening of the arteries, kidney disease, arthritis and more according to medical studies.
Anger solves nothing…all it does is fuel the fire in your heart and cause nothing but headaches for both parties involved. This morning we learn a great “truism” a practical fact from the wisdom found in the Book of Proverbs! This is a truth that we all should apply day by day when we’re face diversity and conflict with others. As one writer wrote this verse “Angry words answered with a loud voice and accusation, just adds fuel to the flame of anger. Gentleness and sympathy puts water on the fire of one’s angry heart. Once I had this scripture in my head and learned to use it in many relationship situations, I saw how effective this piece of wisdom was—all of us desire, in our frustration, to be honored.” As we all know, it is natural to react in like—anger to anger. However, it is supernatural to react in love. The Apostle Paul wrote; Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ( Ephesians 4:29 ). Further warning comes from James, the half-brother of Jesus “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. (James 3:10).
“Stir up” is literally “make to ascend” and pictures anger, like a fire, being fanned into an even greater fire. Soft words, is like oil on a wound, having a soothing effect. This Proverb isn't saying that we can’t disagree, but it must be done with humility and grace without confrontation. Basically, discussing things like adults and not like children fighting over the swing at recess. You will get nowhere with a person who has a temper tantrum and is unreasonable! We are simply to use words that do not uselessly antagonize him or her, for if we do this, we lose all opportunity to declare truth to them, for they will close their mind to all we say! And that speaks volumes when we share the gospel with lost sinners. Jesus set the standard in how we address people who seem hostile towards us. “Revile not” which mean to “abuse; attack with evil words.”He took the hostility, the beating, and the punishment without attacking back. Paul reminds us of this biblical truth in how we’re to live with those around us! Rom 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” We must be peacemakers even if others refuse to be. Obedience is our job; the rest we leave to God.
SO HOW CAN WE DO ALL THIS, WHEN WE’RE FACE TO FACE IN CONVERSATION THAT LEAVES BOTH OF US FEELING HOT TEMPERED? HOW CAN WE APPLY OR DEMONSTRATE THIS PROVERB TO OUR LIFE?
I think the answer can be found in life of a woman named Abigail. Abigail was a woman who was caught between two angry men one of them being her foolish rich husband Nabal. The other being a prideful soon to be King named David. We see something amazing as the situation was about to spiral out of control. Turn to 1 Samuel chapter 25! A situation that was going to leave Abigail a widow. For what reason? David was displeased with the compensation and response by Nabal….especially after guarding over Nabal sheep (v4-v14). So Nabal this pompous and arrogant man is about to see the wrath of David very shortly, but word gets to Abigail’s ears and this is where Prov 15:1 comes into play. First the bible says Abigail “made haste” (v18) which means to hurry, rush, to stop this terrible scene from taking place. What does she do? (v18-v19) she delivers a peace offering of food for David and his men, and when she sees David………. this is where we see the truth of that Proverb. She humbly speaks the truth in love for Her future King and stubborn husband. She ceased the opportunity to reason, and understanding to the table. She could have come and said “how you dare speak to my husband this way” or “who do you think you are.” Which in reality would have only fueled David’s rage……but she didn’t! No! She knew her husband all to well, but she also knew this David. A man who was anointed by God, a man of honor and strength, a man after God’s own heart! She knew he was a reasonable man who was having a moment of prideful rage, and the only way to communicate to a hot tempered person is through humility. (v32-v34).
We’re all susceptible to heated moments, or moments of rage! I’ve found through my many failed experiences that I wish I spoke more from my heart instead of my head. I wish I approached a situation seasoned with grace. Abigail displays for us what Solomon would write many years later! A gentle answer will turn away wrath. Approaching every situation looking through the eyes of Christ, by asking myself “What would Jesus do at this moment?” He would choose the right over the wrong which at times feel so right in our own minds. The power of words to build up or to destroy relationships! Which one, will you chose? Remember a sound heart is a quiet heart that seeks peace….not a clanging cymbal that wants to be heard.
A man goes to the doctor and says, “Doc, my wife’s hearing isn’t as good as it used to be. What should I do?” The doctor replies, “Here’s a test so you can find out for sure. The next time your wife is standing in the kitchen making dinner, move to about 15 feet behind her and ask her a question. If she doesn’t respond, keep moving closer and asking the question until she hears you.”
The man goes home and finds his wife in the kitchen. So, he moves to about 15 feet behind her and asks, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
There’s no response, so he moves closer. “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
Still no response, so he steps even closer. “Honey, what’s for dinner? “Nothing.
Now he’s standing directly behind her. “Honey, what’s for dinner?” “For the fourth time, I said chicken!”
See, in order to properly communicate to someone else in same way Abigail did, we first need to listen, and then respond! As James said “quick to hear….and slow to speak”. Remember:
- You can defuse arguments when you are humble.
- You can handle unfair treatment peacefully when you are humble.
- You can respond to unfair treatment without being overcome by bitterness
- You do not have to put on a "false front" when you are humble.
- You can eat "humble pie" without being crushed when you are humble.
- You can ask forgiveness when you are humble.
- You can talk with the right attitude when you are humble.
When we can humbly do that, we will be able to apply this Proverb correctly to our lives. This is a battle church family….a battle I wish I say “I’ve conquered”, but that would be a lie. But by God’s grace and His ever present Spirit, I’m able to preserver through it; learning and growing in the area of communication with anothers. And beauty of that…..so can you!