2 Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet. 3 The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord. (Proverbs 19:2–3, NKJV)
I grew up hearing that “ignorance is bliss.” Maybe you did, too. Sometimes it was said somewhat sarcastically to warn us against thinking it is true. But sometimes I heard it said to justify choosing a particular (usually foolish) course of action. After all, we frequently hear people say, “I didn’t know” to explain something they did or did not do. We have most likely used that line, too. The Bible does not teach ignorance is bliss; just the opposite. Solomon said a lack of knowledge propels us into doing dangerous things that lead to sin (v. 2). To think ignorance is bliss and then act without understanding puts us on a twisted path (v. 3). When trouble comes due to our foolish choices, many get angry at God for the problem. The remedy is to accept instruction from the Lord and gain knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:1-6). Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). Bliss comes from revering God, not getting angry at Him. When we respect God, we can “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). By doing so, our feet will not run to sin but walk the path that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14).
A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of wicked intentions is hated. (Proverbs 14:17, NKJV)
Reason and good judgment exit the scene when anger enters the stage. “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly (Prov. 14:29). The short fuse of anger and wrath destroys relationships we claim to be valuable to us – family, friendships, brethren. We have chosen foolishness and evil intentions over discretion and peace when we lose control of our emotions and let anger rule our spirit (Jas. 1:19-20). Anger expresses ill will, even hatred, toward others. Getting angry does not remove being accountable for our words and actions. Cain was very angry and hated his brother Abel, leading to murder (Gen. 4:5-7; 1 Jno. 3:12-15). His anger led to great folly. It is not enough to know we should not lose our temper. Knowing this, we must add self-control to our knowledge to help us master our emotions (2 Pet. 1:6). Even when others hurt us we dare not be quick-tempered and play the fool. “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11).
The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord. (Proverbs 19:3, NKJV)
Have you ever known someone who is angry at God? They blame God for the problems in their lives. Perhaps they blame God for a tragic event that happened to them or to someone they love. Being angry at God over life’s trials and tragedies is foolishness that overthrows peace and stability. We should not expect God to suspend our freewill and its consequences at the moment using it causes pain, suffering and sorrow (to ourselves and to others). When we “fret (get angry) against the Lord” we invite foolishness to lead us and to eventually overthrow us. The truth is life is full of cause and effect. Sometimes the cause that produces a disastrous effect is purely coincidental, merely “time and chance” taking place (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Others get angry at the Lord because they resent His word. They reject His gospel and its salvation because it exposes their sins (Matthew 12:14). In angry denial they refuse to do what the gospel says. Still others get angry at God when He does not do things the way they want or expect. Jonah reminds us of this brand of foolishness (Jonah 4:5-11). Resolve not to be angry against the Lord. Sinful choices led you away from God into foolishness. Making different choices, righteous choices, will set you on a course toward God and His blessings.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15:19, NKJV)
Murder is the outward display of a heart full of malice and hatred. The first recorded murder sprang from the angry heart of Cain, who hated his brother Abel (Genesis 4:4-8; 1 John 3:11-15). While the outward results of hatred versus murder are usually quite different, the sin of hatred is just as evil. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14-15). Both the slaying of an innocent person (murder) and hatred of a brother produce spiritual death. Cultivating love for one’s neighbor guards against the sin of hatred as well as the ultimate acting out of that hatred – murder. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32, NKJV)
History is full of conquering heroes who defeated kingdoms, vanquished cities, and ruled empires with great power. Yet, It is better to be slow to anger than it is to rule a city. The person who rules (exercises dominion over) his or her spirit is to be preferred and is due more honor than the mightiest conqueror. There is no honor in being short-fused or quick-tempered. Genuine strength of character includes being “slow to anger” when provoked. Control over one’s spirit requires prudent discretion, therefore, “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29). The sinfulness of anger is well documented in Scripture (Matthew 5:21-26; Colossians 3:8; Galatians 5:20). A mark of loving our neighbor as ourselves is refusing to be provoked to anger against him (1 Corinthians 13:5; Matthew 5:44). To control one’s spirit by not being angry when wronged shows great strength of faith. Such self-control is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). We must be “slow to wrath” if we wish to produce the righteousness of God in our lives (James 1:19-20). Therefore, rule over your spirit, be calm in your soul, and be honored by the Lord.
24 Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, 25 Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. (Proverbs 22:24–25, NKJV)
Just as good influences encourage us to reach greater heights of holiness, evil influences set traps that will endanger our souls. One such trap is the bad influence of the angry, furious person. Friendship with a person who does not control his or her temper will surely draw you into complicity and compromise with the fury. And, it can even begin to produce within you the same sort of anger actions and reactions. To resist the angry man’s wrath that he expresses toward others will sooner or later, make you the object of his wrath, too. Better to identify this evil influence and avoid it, rather than thinking you can befriend it without being affected by it. Why expose yourself to forces that hinder your holiness? If you are holding anger in your heart, release it through repentance, and replace it with the godly qualities of kindness, humility and love.