We say stuff when we’re mad that we don’t necessarily mean but can never take back.
We aim to wound, but that wound can’t be undone. It’s irreversible.
We see this profoundly in Scripture through the story of Samson. In Judges 14, he became incredibly angry with his wife and finally, when his anger subsided, he decided to go visit his wife to patch things up. But Judges 15 tells us that her father didn’t let him see her. He thought Samson hated her, so he had given her to Samson’s best man.
“Later on, during the wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat as a gift and visited his wife. ‘I want to go to my wife in her room,’ he said. But her father would not let him enter. ‘I was sure you hated her,’ her father said, ‘so I gave her to one of the men who accompanied you. Isn’t her younger sister more beautiful than she is? Why not take her instead?’” (Judges 15:1-2).
Samson’s father-in-law apparently thought the relationship was over, based on Samson’s actions. He gave Samson’s wife to another man in order to save his daughter’s dignity, since Samson abandoned her at the altar. Anger cost Samson his girl. It’s worth noting that verse 2 shows that the girl’s father took some responsibility for what happened at the wedding. He attempted to patch things up with Samson, offering a compromise in the form of his younger daughter’s hand in marriage. Given her beauty, this seems like an impressive offer, but Samson’s pride and determination to make his own choices caused him to reject the would-be bride. This makes it even more clear that Samson didn’t find fault within himself for leaving the wedding in a rage. Apparently, he expected to return as though nothing had happened and continue life with his bride.
Anger doesn’t work that way. Outbursts of rage cannot be undone.
The same is true in our own lives. We may think anger is a good idea because it makes us feel good or it makes others fear us. Sometimes we use anger to control others and get what we want—by scaring our kids into behaving or convincing a nagging wife to leave us alone. We intimidate our employees into being more productive. Or maybe we like knowing that people give us our way just to keep us from blowing up. But none of these reactions are how God has called us to behave when things don’t go our way.
In the end, anger always robs us.
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check” (Proverbs 29:11).
Giving in to our inflamed emotions makes us more than fools. It’s outright dangerous—a gateway emotion that leads to stronger and more powerful explosions with each person or thing that sets us off. Jesus addressed the problems of murder and anger (among others) in Matthew 5.
“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (vv. 21-22).
Jesus explained that obedience to God’s commands means not having murderous hearts as well as not having murderous hands. We’re called to respond to personal offenses with forbearance and forgiveness rather than with anger and violence. That makes biblical obedience regarding our anger a lot tougher, because it requires both physical and emotional restraint.
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Dr. Chip Henderson has served as the senior pastor and primary teacher at Pinelake Church since 1999. He is well known for his commitment to Biblical, life application teaching. Chip’s passion is to see Christ bring about powerful life-change in people — stirring a spiritual movement that will change the world. Chip holds a PhD in New Testament studies and is the co-creator of the L3 Journal. He and his wife, Christy, have three children.