“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3
Have you ever become so angry that you said or did something you never would have imagined?
When I was a child, my little brother and I used to watch the television show The Incredible Hulk. “The Hulk” is a fictional character — Dr. David Banner. When he became extremely angry, he transformed into a large, green out-of-control giant. In the TV series, he usually hurt the bad guys and helped the good guys. Unfortunately, my brother and I used to practice our “Hulk” moves on one another.
According to sciencedaily.com, “When we get angry, the heart rate, arterial tension and testosterone production increases, cortisol (the stress hormone) decreases, and the left hemisphere of the brain becomes more stimulated.” (Plataforma SINC. “What happens when we get angry?” ScienceDaily, 1 Jun. 2010. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.) The left hemisphere is more focused on language, which may be one reason why heightened language occurs when we get mad.
Did Jesus ever become angry? One example in the Bible is mentioned in three of the four gospels when Jesus cleared out the money-changers in the Temple. (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22) He was angry over using God’s house for impure means. This was a righteous reason for His anger toward others. Jesus’ example shows us that we, too, may get angry with the right motives.
Proverbs 20:3 says, “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” This wisdom passage does not indicate it is sinful to have strife, but it only states that it is honorable to avoid it. It seems the spirit of this instruction is to do our best to avoid it when possible. As we see in Jesus’ example, there may be times when entering into a potentially strife-filled discussion may be the best and only way to do the right thing.
This passage also makes it clear that a fool is one who is “quick to quarrel.” It does not state that quarrelling is foolish. It only says entering into quarrelling quickly is a bad idea. Having a lively conversation with another person you respect can often times result in solving a difficult problem.
As Christians who claim the name of Jesus Christ, it is important that we enter into any discussion with another person recognizing the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as He is appropriated by us in our lives by faith, will give us wisdom and guide us into all truth as it relates how best to relate to another person. When we yield to the Spirit, He enables us, along with the other Spirit-filled person, to make the most of the opportunity.
The next time you feel yourself get angry and your emotions are bursting out of you to lash out, take a deep breath, pray, and trust the Holy Spirit to use that anger in a pure way like Jesus did.
You may be surprised at what happens.
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at OneMaster.org.