I'm So Mad I Could Die

Bible Book: Proverbs  25
Subject: Anger; Bitterness; Peace; Grudge, Carrying a

I'm So Mad I Could Die

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com

Proverbs 16:32

"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city."

In our passage today we are told by the Lord that a person who knows how to control anger is of greater strength that a military giant who can take a city. Better than those who seem to be mighty by the world's standards is the man or woman who can control an angry spirit.

In Galatians 5:19-21 we read:

"19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

There is a sordid list of sins in that passage of scripture, but I hope you noticed that right there in the passage from Galatians is listed, "...hatred, contentions, jealousies, ... dissensions, ... envy, murders..." That means that the Lord is just as concerned about your tempter as He is about idolatry, drunkenness, heresies, and other awful behavior.

In Ecclesiastes 7:9 we read:

"Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools."

The word "fool" is not one to be tossed about with abandon, but when it comes to those who don't know how to control their anger, God readily uses the word to describe them. Anger resides in the bosom of fools - that is something to remember the next time your anger flares up.

Have you noticed the people who are losing their jobs because of a hasty tweet or text sent in anger? It is fascinating to observe the reality of God's Word being played out online these days. I am telling you that people with six-figure salaries are being fired for tapping the send button off and pushing out foolish, angry, hasty tweets. An untamed spirit of anger can cost you dearly.

Of course it is important to differentiate between good anger and bad anger. There is a good anger, for Jesus Himself was angry and we know He never sinned. He was angry when He took the whip and drove out the money changers from the outer court of the Temple. Some things should make you angry, things like drugs, crime, prejudice and other sins which harm so many people. The fact is, Jesus never got angry about what someone did to Him; He only got angry about what people were doing to others and especially what sin was doing to them. You and I are never to be angry with people, but only at the sin which causes the problems we see in peoples lives. That is the way Jesus acted when He on the earth. We are to love the sinner and hate the sin. That is possible, you know. For example, you become angry about things you do but you still love yourself. We become angry at things our children do but we still love our children. That is how we are to differentiate between that which is proper and that which is improper when it comes to anger.

I heard about a little girl who was doing her homework and she asked her dad to explain the difference between aggravation and anger. He said, "Oh that's easy, I'll show you." He opened his cell phone and dialed a number. A man answered the phone on the other end and the girl's father said, "Hello, is George there?" The man who answered the phone said, "There is no one here named George. Sorry, you have the wrong number," and then hung up. The dad dialed the same number again and said, "Hello, is George there?" The man answered and said, "I told you a minute ago there is no one here named George," and again hung up the phone. The dad dialed the number a third time and asked, "Hello, is George there?" The man said, "Listen buddy, I told you there is no one here named George," and hung up. The dad dialed the same number again. The man answered the phone and said, "H-E-L-L-O!" with an angry tone. "Hello, is George there?" the father asked. This time the man exploded, "There is no George here. I don't know who you are but you better not call here again," and slammed the phone closed. The dad said, "Now, honey, that was anger. Now let me show you aggravation." He dialed the same number again and said, "Hello, this is George. Have there been any calls for me?"

You and I need to know how to deal with aggravation and anger, for all of us surely have our share of both. This matter is physically, socially and spiritually of great significance. It is apparent from what we see happening across America today that anger is extremely dangerous. School shootings, spousal abuse, road rage, and murder at the work place, remind us of how critical it is that we learn how to deal with anger. People who do not know how to cope with anger and aggravation can take desperate steps and ruin so many lives.

A doctor at Duke Medical Center in North Carolina has pointed out that people who do not deal with anger well are five times more likely to suffer a heart attack and die early in life. Medical tests have been done that actually reveal that the heart pumping action is terribly restricted when a person becomes angry. In other words, anger can kill you. A golfer was so mad on the golf course some time ago that he threw his club. The golf club hit a tree, bounced back, and hit him right between the eyes. It killed him graveyard dead right there on the spot. Anger kills.

A man jumped out of his car the other day in one our cities and opened the door on the car of a man whom he thought took his parking place. The man in the car shot the man who opened his car door right through the chest. He killed that angry man right there in the parking lot. You see, none of us knows exactly how far our reactions may take us when we become extremely angry. Knowing how to deal with one’s temper can be a matter of life or death.

Some people make fun of anger, like the late female comedian Phyllis Diller who once said, "Don't go to bed angry, stay up and fight!" One man I read about said that he and his wife agreed when they got married that they would never go to bed angry. He said, “One time we stayed up three days without sleep, but we didn’t go to bed angry!” As funny as anger can be, it is in the end a serious matter than ends many marriages, friendships, jobs, and lives.

God's Word tells us how we need to deal with anger and I think we had better seek His advice on this subject. First notice that ...

I. We Need a Slow Reaction to Anger

Proverbs 15:18 states:

"A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute."

James stated this in chapter 1, verse 19:

"This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger..."

We must be slow in becoming angry, otherwise we will surely get into trouble. A little girl was sent to a party at a friend's house. Her mother told her she had better not act out at the party. The mother told the birthday girls mom to send her daugther straight home if she did not act as she should. Then she warned her daughter that if she was sent home early she was going to get a spanking. Well, the little girl going to the party was gone no more than 15 minutes until she came back home. Her mother met her at the door, took her in the house and spanked her good. Then her mother asked, "What did you do to get sent home early?" The little girl responded, "I didn't do nothing! The party isn’t till next week!" When we get mad too quickly, we over-react and make mistakes - often making fools of ourselves. We must act calmly - in other words, we are to react to people and situations that present themselves to us in a Christian manner..

Some of you will likely say that you cannot control your anger. Yes you can! Let me give you an exampe. Let us say that you and your spouse are engaged in an arguement. You are beginning raise you voices and your faces are getting a bit red, but then the phone rings. How do you answer it? You likely answer very pleasantly, saying "Hello" in a sweet and kind voice. You cut that anger off in split second! Very quickly, before you answered the phone, you simply shut down the anger in order to speak to the person on the phone in a proper manner. You have done that, haven't you? Sure you have! How did you do that? You did it because you knew that you needed to control your anger before you answered the phone. You can control your anger when you really want to. That is what we must do on every occasion. When anger is rising the Christian must have the mind of Christ.

Anger rises up within us as a natural thing. If we never got angry, we might be subject to every type of ill treatment, not only of ourselves but also of those we love. God has given us a natural instinct in order to protect us and protect those we love. The problem however is that we begin to use that God-given anger in the wrong situations. Selfishness, pride and personal desire overcomes us at times and we act in a way that dishonors God and creates danger in our lives and in the lives of others. One place this shows up a lot is when we are in an automobile. When someone pulls out in front of you on the highway, your instinct is to drive right up on their back bumper to let them know you are very unhappy. Why do we do that? Why does it bother us so much? After all, it usually doesn’t matter in regard to the time it is going to take us to get to our destination. I’ve rushed past a car that seemed to be going slowly only to have that same car pass me at the next stop light. That has happened to you, hasn’t it? Embarrassing, isn’t it? You see, we are driven by pride and pride wants to be first. When we are denied first place, we become angry. Anger, left uncontrolled, can be much more than embarrassing – it can kill.

We are warned in scripture to be slow to anger. In order to do this, we must start with trusting God in every situation. He knows where you are and what you need. Perhaps you don’t get that parking place that someone took right in front of you because God knows you need to walk. He can see that blockage building in your heart that you cannot see and He knows you need the exercise more than you need a parking spot close to the front door of the building.

Being slow to anger is very important in the home. Marriages are ruined when a husband and wife cannot control their anger. The Bible tells us that children are not to be provoked to wrath. Everyone in the home needs to calm down. When my children were still in the home growing up and they did something wrong, I found a way to correct them without yelling. I would calmly sit them down and make them listen to a lecture. I mean a real lecture - a long lecture. I would begin slowly and then slow down some more. After about fifteen to twenty minutes, they would beg me to spank them and let them go. They quit acting out just to avoid my lectures. The slower I spoke the quicker they were to swear off ever doing whatever it was they did wrong again.

Seriously, someone is listening to me right now and you need this message in your life. You are losing control of your temper and it is going to cost you your job, your marriage, your friends, or perhaps your life. Unless you gain control of your temper, you are on a path to great loss. God says, “Be slow to anger!”

Now, notice secondly ...

II. We Need a Secret Reaction to Anger

Proverbs 25:9-10 states:

"Debate your case with your neighbor,
And do not disclose the secret to another;
10 Lest he who hears it expose your shame,
And your reputation be ruined."

This is a very interesting passage of scripture, containing a special truth. When a problem develops between you and someone else, keep the circle of that disagreement or problem between the two of you as much as possible. Don't tell others about it, or involve them in the dispute. Some people just do not realize how damaging angry words can be and how spreading the anger can create greater problems and dangers. God tells us that we must keep anger in a very small circle. We should not involve others in it.

Jesus told us what to do when we have been harmed or when we have harmed another. We are to go directly to that person and that person only. In Matthew 18:15 we read:

"15 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother."

Jesus knew exactly what was needed when a problem developed between two Christians. Sometimes, when we are angry, we take our anger to others and spread it like a virus. We need to draw a circle around our anger and deal with it in a tight-knit way.

In Proverbs 17:9 we read:

"He who covers a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates friends."

In essence, we are told that love covers a multitude of sins. That is what we should do, cover the problem before it gets worse or spreads even further. When we are angry, we need to ask if there is love present that can overcome the anger we feel.

One day I was eating lunch with some friends and the waitperson was extremely slow, got the orders wrong and forgot to bring something to the table when requested. One of the people in our party was ready to call for the manager. I cautioned him not to do that. I said, “Just think of what this person may be going through. Perhaps there is a sick child at home and this person has to be at work when needed at home. Maybe her boyfriend or husband just walked out on her. It could be that she is dealing with something that has her mind wrapped up in a swirl of confusion.” Don’t get me wrong, I‘m not playing hero before you today; I’ve had my occasions to need the same pep talk. But on that occasion the man at our table agreed. Later, we asked her if there was anything we could pray for in her life. When she told us her need, we were all touched. We ended up praying for her with compassion rather than anger. We are often angry because we just don't have all the facts.

The secret to overcoming wrongly placed anger is to think beyond yourself. That is what Jesus did for us. He hates sin, but He loves us. His love overcame His anger against our sin. Without God assuaging His anger against sin through personal sacrifice all of us would be doomed. His love has covered a multitude of my sins and yours. We are to act more like Jesus.

Then, note that ...

III. We Need A Smart Reaction To Anger

Proverbs 25:11 states:

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver."

Now, compare that verse to Proverbs 25:18:

"A man who bears false witness against his neighbor
Is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow."

Wow! Our words can be like apples of gold in a silver bowl, or they can be like a club, sword or arrow aimed at someone's heart. In other words, we can say things in more than one way. Let me give you an example. You might tell a lady that her face looks like a fresh breath of spring. But you could say the same thing by saying that her face looks like the end of a long, hard winter. You've said the same thing but you have to admit that the second way it was said has a totally different meaning and would certainly get a terribly different reaction. You could say that your wife looks so good she makes time stand still. Or, you could say that she has a face that could stop a clock. Same thing, different meaning. I would not advise you to say the latter of those two statements. Remember, anger kills.

Choosing our words carefully is important. Words can cut so deeply that a person will have a very difficult time recovering from them. Children can be ruined by the words of a parent. A spouse can be heart broken by the words of his or her spouse.

One danger in the use of words today is in the area of social media. A text or an email fails to reveal the body and facial expressions of the sender. You may send the words meaning one thing but the person receiving them may get an entirely different impression of what is being said. I know a pastor who literally lost his church because of a couple of emails. He sent them to a member who was complaining. The member showed them to her friends and all of them agreed that what he wrote was hateful and spiteful. No matter how arduously the pastor tried to show his true intent, they refused to believe him. The issue spread in the church and he was eventually forced to resign.

Listen to me carefully. I am going to be very precise in the words I use. If you don’t know how a person is going to take what you are saying or sending by social media, just don’t send it. Don’t write it. Don't text it. Sometimes we just need to “shut up.” Above all, what you have to say, say in person. Let the person see your heart when you speak. We just need to be smart concerning the issue of anger. Now, don’t you dare go out and tell everybody that I told you to shut up. That is not what I said. I actually said, "Sometimes WE just need to shut up." I didn't say YOU need to shut up. You see how easily someone can take a statement and create a problem that actually never existed. Now, if I told YOU to shut up during a COVNVERSATION, you might walk off in a huff and become an enemy for life. But I would not speak to you like that in a conversation and you know it. You see, we have to be smart in what we say, what we write and how we respond. We have to be careful in how we listen and characterize what someone has said or done to us.

We must be careful to say things in the proper manner, and thoughtful in how we react to feelings of anger that arise within us because of something another has spoken to us.

Also, consider that ...

IV. We Need a Spiritual Reaction to Anger

Proverbs 25:21-22 reads:

"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the Lord will reward you."

Proverbs 25:21-22 tells us that we must react to some hurt we feel in the same manner in which God reacts to us. He loves us when we are unlovely. He is good to us even when we are not good to Him.

Let’s think about how we can act toward other people, even when what they say or do may appear to be unkind, harmful or hateful. There are three ways we can respond to people and only two of them are good – and only one of them causes us to respond like God responds to us.

A. We may act like sinners and give evil for good.

There are some people who are evil and mean, even toward people who are trying to help them. Young people often act that way toward adults. A parent or teacher is trying to help a teenager, but the teen sees it as controlling and hateful. As a result, the young person gives evil for good. But, it is not just young people who do this. There are adults who work in evil ways toward an employer or a spouse. It is an awful thing to give evil for good. Sadly, the way this is done most often is in the way we treat our Lord. He is always sharing good with us and too often we respond with evil in our lives - which is to give Him evil even when He has give us true love.

B. We may act like Christians and give good for good.

This is the easiest thing for a person to do. Some people are good to us, so we in turn are good to them. This is the way we often choose our friends. When we are good to others and they are good to us, we both enjoy being around them. There is little to be praised in this reaction, but we must admit that it is a joy to be involved in a relationship where each does what each can for the good of the other. This type of reaction is actually very easy for anyone.

But, now cinsider the best and most difficult reaction ...

C. We can act like God and give good for evil.

When we give good for evil, we are acting like God. In the fruit of the Spirit we find the word "temperance." This means to be in control. When we are filled with the Spirit, and let God control us, we can act under the leadership of the Spirit of Almighty God. Doing so means that we can give good toward someone who has acted in an unkind way toward us. From the cross Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That is a God-reaction to evil. We will never rise higher in life than when we can be good to someone who has been evil to us.

Have you acted this way toward anyone lately? I can tell you that this is a very liberating activity. Not only that, but God will bless it richly.

Some years ago a person did something that hurt me terribly. I was a very young man and it crushed my spirit for a while. One day in prayer God spoke to me and said, “A day you come when you will be able to help this person and I want you to promise me that you will do it.” In tears, I made that promise to God. About three years later I had the chance to do what God had asked me to do. I recommended that person for an excellent job and he was hired. He came to see me and asked, “Why did you do that for me?” I told him that God had reminded me that he loved me when I was a sinner against Him, and He wanted to me to act in the same manner toward others. When God first spoke to me about helping this man, I thought it would be hard; nevertheless, I promised to do what God asked of me. Actually, it was very easy to do. It was so easy that I could hardly believe it. To be completely honest, I was refreshed and joyful in the process of helping someone who had hurt me. I’m not putting myself on a pedestal by telling you this. Honestly, I never would have thought of helping that man had God not made me promise to do so. But, I can tell you that giving good for evil is uplifting and produces joy in your life. That was a long time ago, but I still live in the joy and wonder of that which God asked me to do. I can't tell you the entire story but I will say that the results of that action reverberated back in blessings to me for the rest of my life.

I have a pastor friend who had only one son and that son became a police officer. While still a young man on the police force, that preacher's only son was killed by a vicious man. My preacher friend and his wife were crushed. In fact, I can’t imagine what he went through during those days and through the years since. Let me tell you what my friend did. He went to the prison where his son’s killer was located and sought to witness to him and share the love of Jesus with him. I asked him one day how he did that. He shared with me that it was God’s will and it was the only way to move on. Then he said, “Isn’t that what God did for us? Our sins killed His Son, but He still loved us!” I can tell you that my friend never held a grudge against his only son’s killer. He was giving good for evil. His action has been a constant reminder to me of how we are to act toward those who seem to harm us or actually do so.


Everyone here knows that anger is a problem. No doubt it has caused you some heartaches in life. Let me remind you that anger is associated with grieving the Holy Spirit. We read in Ephesians 4:30-31:

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

Did you notice that bitterness, wrath and anger are mentioned it that text, right along with grieving the Holy Spirit? You see, anger is a spiritual problem and needs a divine answer.

Let us yield to the Holy Spirit. We need Him to fill us and take our anger from us. When He is in control, our anger will be under control. We will be angry perhaps, but we will not sin - our anger will be against those things that make God angry and not against insignificant things or other people.

Our example in the matter of anger is the Lord. He has every right to be angry with us forever, but He is not. He loved us and gave Himself for us at the Cross. He will accept today those who are His enemies. If you are not saved, come to Him now. He loves you! No matter what you have done, He is willing to forgive you when you are willing to repent and accept Him as Lord and Savior.

And, for those of us who belong to Him, let us turn to Him and turn our temperament over to Him. Let us lay down the things that have hurt us – let us lay them at the cross where Jesus laid down His life for us. Today can be life-changing for someone here in this service. You can turn that anger over to God – cast your burden upon the Lord, for He cares for you! You can walk out of this service with a great load lifted from your heart. No, I am not making light of your hurt and the harm that someone has done to you. I am telling you that Jesus wants you to be free of the burden that anger and bitterness brings to life. Lay it down. Do it today.