Summer Wise Summer Not
Week 4 – Taming My Temper
We are in week 4 of our summer series, based on the book of Proverbs, called Summer Wise, Summer Not. We’re addressing numerous PRACTICAL, topics from this Old Testament book that written over 2,400 years ago. It is amazing to see how relevant these words are to our lives today.
Today our focus shifts to anger and I want to begin with a few fast facts. See if you agree. The average man loses his temper six times a week. The average woman only loses her temper three times a week. I didn’t see it in the data, but I suspect the man is the one causing the woman to lose her temper two out of those three times. That it not statistically proven!
Women get angry more often at people. Men more often get angry at things — (machines/tools/things that break down or don’t work). Single adults express anger twice as often as married adults. Men are more physical with their anger than women. You are more likely to express anger at home than anywhere else.
Whether you agree with these observations or not, we can all agree, anger is a hot topic in our culture, and it is an issue that affects us all on some level. So, let’s see what Solomon has to say about the important issue of taming our temper. “It is better to be slow-tempered than famous; it is better to have self-control than to control an army.” – Proverbs 16:32 (TLB)
So many seem to struggle with anger. How can we get a grip on our anger? I want to point out Three Specific Strategies that can help us Tame Our Temper.
1. REMEMBER the results.
Every time you blow up there are consequences – typically negative consequences.
Remembering these negative effects can be a good strategy to help calm you down. “An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.” – Proverbs 29:22 (NLT) Who wants to be a part of that? “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.” – Proverbs 15:18 (NLT) Anger causes mistakes. People with hot tempers do foolish things.
And anger can lead to all kinds of sin.
Will Rogers said, “People who fly into a rage seldom make a good landing.” When you lose your temper, you almost always lose. And you lose more than your temper. You can lose respect, health, your job, your wife/husband/kids. “The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left.” – Proverbs 11:29a (TLB)
Many are convinced that anger works. And there is a short-term benefit. When you yell and get angry at somebody most of the time most people will comply because of fear, or the awkwardness of the situation, but in the end you lose. That is because anger alienates. In the long run it can cost you the relationship. Proverbs says if you’re going to get a grip on your temper, the first thing you can do is remember the results. Carefully consider the negative effects of the past.
2. Reflect before you REACT.
Before you impulsively respond in anger, calm down. Cool off. Reflect before you react. It is typically unwise to respond impulsively. It is wise to think things through first. “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” – Proverbs 29:11 (NLT) A fool gives full vent to his or her anger, but a wise person holds their temper.
They know how to cool it.
The title of this series is Summer Wise – Summer Not. Which are you when it comes to taming your temper? Wise or unwise? One of the great remedies for anger is delay. An immediate reaction is usually bad news! But the longer you delay a response, the better (WISER) it gets.
Thomas Jefferson is the guy who said, “When you’re angry you count to ten. If very angry you count to 100.” If you’re still angry you keep on counting. Count to 1,000 if you have to! Do whatever you have to do to delay or defer, so you can reflect before reacting. Whatever you were going to say or do in anger initially – don’t. Some of you think you can’t do that. Yes, you can. We don’t want to discuss it, but Anger is a CHOICE. Sometimes we just want to throw an adult version of a 2-year-old temper tantrum. We want to blow off some steam and get some things off our chest. It feels good in the moment, but it is such an immature approach to life.
A fool gives full vent to his anger. (Prov. 29:11) Anger can be controlled, but sometimes, we just don’t want to control it. I am sure we have all been in an argument with someone and the phone rings. Hello! It is amazing how we can shift our tone…if we want to. We choose when to be angry, where to get angry, how to be angry, and who to be angry with, and even how long we will stay angry. We control what we want to control.
Reflect BEFORE you react. A wise man wait wisely waits to allow things to cool down “A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.” – Proverbs 12:16 (NLT) When a fool is annoyed, he quickly lets everyone know. But wise people know how to stay calm and ignore an insult. For some people everything is life and death. They can’t ignore anything. Have you ever heard the saying, “a small pot boils quickly?” This is about developing emotional maturity.
Recommended Book – Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.
You can tell a lot about a person’s character by what upsets them, how quickly and how often they get upset, and how long they stay upset. What does it take to really upset you? “Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.’ – Proverbs 19:11 (NLT) When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it.
I understand, some things can’t be ignored. But maturity is revealed in our ability to overlook a hurt. Maturity is the ability to disregard it, to shrug it off, to play it down. The best example of this is Jesus. He was slandered, criticized, put down, misunderstood — yet He never retaliated.
Here is the point of the message – NOTHING can make you mad. We get to choose. So, don’t blame anyone or anything for your anger. It may be time to establish some boundaries and time to take responsibility. If you put two people in the same situation, one gets mad and one doesn’t. Why? It has a lot to do with the way they interpret the situation. It is often a matter of perspective and the way they choose to respond.
Have you ever looked at someone and said, “You make me so mad!” To be honest, nothing makes you mad. It’s a choice to get mad. This is all about the way you respond or react to the situation. The next time you are irritated, just ask yourself this question; Is this really a big deal? Is it worth being upset over? Sometimes it is a big deal, but so much of what we get mad about is really small and petty in the grand scheme of things.
Every minute that you’re angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness. You need to ask yourself, “Is this worth giving up my happiness for? Is it that big of deal?” Some things aren’t worth arguing over or fighting about. Some people get angry and upset and argue over the smallest things. It has become a habit. It is a lifestyle for them.
A great goal – Never fight a battle where you don’t gain anything by winning. Know what battles to fight and know what battles aren’t worth fighting. When someone wrongs you it’s a great virtue to just ignore it.
“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.” – Proverbs 17:27 People who stay calm often demonstrate greater maturity and insight than those who fly off the handle over every little thing. “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” – Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)
Maybe you have been praying for more patience when what you really need is wisdom. Try to analyze your anger. Why are you so upset? Why does that person or situation bother you so much? Anger isn’t the only problem. Anger may be a warning light that there is a deeper issue that’s needs to be addressed.
ANGER is often caused by:
a) HURT – When you are hurt physically, spiritually, or emotionally, it causes anger.
b) FRUSTRATION – We get angry when nothing seems to work. When we are forced to wait. When things just don’t go as planned. We talked about this last week. When people don’t meet our expectations.
c) INSECURITY – Insecurity is what happens when you are threatened. When you’re afraid. When your self-worth is being attacked.
These are just a few of the things that cause anger. When you deal with the hurt, frustration, and insecurity in your life, it reduces anger dramatically. That’s why the Bible says, “People who stay calm have real insight.” Do whatever it takes to keep from responding immediately.
3. Restrain your REMARKS
Another way of saying it, is watch your words. “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” – Proverbs 21:23 You don’t have to say all that’s on your mind when you’re angry. If you want to stay out of trouble, be careful what you say. Maturity is a factor again.
Whenever you blow your stack, all you are doing is creating air pollution. What good do these emotional outbursts do anyway? I am not sure I have ever seen them do any good. It has been said that a sharp tongue is the quickest way to cut your own throat. Someone else suggested we use sweet words because we may have to eat them. Watch what you say.
The problem is that words come very easily when we’re angry. Have you noticed how brilliant you can be when you are angry, and the adrenaline is flowing? Sometimes I can think of the most sarcastic thing to say. But is that really what is needed in the moment?
Haven’t we all said something in anger, only later to regret it? Proverbs says if you’re smart you will restrain your words. “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” – Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer quiets anger. But harsh ones stir it up.
Whose anger does a gentle answer quiet? First, it quiets yours. The louder you talk the angrier you get. So, if you want to turn down the anger, dial down the volume and speak gently. Not only does that quiet your anger, it also quiets the anger of the other person too.
Anger is CONTAGIOUS and INFECTIOUS.
If somebody’s continually angry at you, eventually you’re going to get angry at them.
It is contagious. If you sow harsh words, you’re going to reap harsh words back.
If you want softer words spoken to you, then try saying softer words to them. Because whatever you sow, you’re going to reap. It is contagious.
It’s a well-known fact that children learn more from our example than our words. What that means then, as parents, is that every time you lose your temper, you’re teaching your kids how to get angry. Every time you lose your cool, you’re teaching your kids how to handle their anger. And you will reap what you sow. I will reap what I sow. It is a law of life.
The Bible says we need to remember the results, it only causes damage. And we need to reflect before reacting — calm down, wait, delay. Then we need to restrain our words and remarks, so that we don’t say all kinds of things because however you do it, your kids are watching.
A famous golfer was doing a pro golf clinic and he had his 14-year-old son with him. He thought he’d show off a little and he said, “Hey, son, show them what I taught you.” His son obediently pulled out a 9 iron and threw it across the fairway. They are watching.
You can learn a lot about what is on the inside of you when life puts you in a squeeze. Sponge or rag example – What comes out when you get squeezed? Whatever is inside of you is going to come out when you are under pressure. When the world puts the squeeze on you whatever is in you is going to come out.
It just seems like temper and tension go together. Have you noticed that? The more tension and pressure you have in your life, the more you’re prone to losing your temper. I have found that hurry, deadlines, and demands intensify the pressure I am feeling, which increases the anger in that resides inside of me.
When you’re feeling stressed out, your ability to manage your anger is decreased. I would equate it to a pot that is filled all the way up to the brim with stress, tension, anger, and hurt. Because of the lifestyles we have chosen, because of the hurry, the deadlines, the demands, and the pressure we live with every day, we are always about one degree away from boiling over.
Somebody slightly bumps into you, and something spills over the edge and you blow up. Anger is often the result of being wound so tight and living under so much pressure and stress. Who likes living like that? It not only hurts you, but it is toxic to the people around you.
I believe God wants to pour out all the anger, all the hurt, all the stress, and He wants to fill us with His love, His joy, His peace, and His patience if we will allow Him. That’s called fruit of the Spirit by the way. When the world puts on the pressure, when the world puts you in the squeeze, isn’t that what you hope will come out? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control instead of all these other things?
Uncontrolled anger is like a warning light on the dashboard of your car. It is an indicator that you’re hurting, that you’re frustrated, and that you’re insecure. Jesus wants to help us with these things. He wants to heal your hurt with His love. You may have been abused. You may have been unloved. You may have been rejected, unwanted. Jesus knows and Jesus cares. That is because our pain matters to God. He wants to heal you of your hurts.
He wants to replace that hurt with His love because when we stop hurting, we’ll stop hurting others. And we’ll start being able to love because His love fills your heart. Jesus Christ also wants to replace our frustration with His peace. The peace the world gives is a fake and phony peace. The peace that passes understanding is what the Lord wants to produce in our lives. In the middle of all the chaos we can have peace of mind. It’s not peace without chaos, it’s peace in the middle of chaos.
When you’re filled with peace frustration is diminished. Jesus Christ wants to replace our insecurity with His power, His confidence, His security, and His peace. When you realize how loved you are by God and how He has a plan for your life and He’s in control of your life, He’s number one, He’s calling the shots, then you find your insecurity leveling off and as it does, anger begins to dissipate.
When somebody comes along and irritates you or pulls in front of you, or ticks you off in some way, or insults you, it is not the crisis it once was. You don’t feel have to feel threatened, or angry, or afraid. Because God wants to deliver you from that lifestyle that is not only destroying, you, but it is also destroying the people you love. Will you let Him do it
Solomon has so much to teach us. The 31 chapters of Proverbs are packed with principles that can make such a difference in our lives. Let’s not blow through this series without allowing the Holy Spirit to change us, and to refine in us the image of Jesus. Each week, I hope you will be open to considering how you are doing in each area?
Do you need more wisdom? More patience? Do you need to get a handle on your anger? Would you ask Jesus Christ to help you deal with the root causes of your anger today? Would you ask Jesus to heal your hurt, so you can stop hurting other people? Would you be willing to ask Him to fill you with His love so that when the world puts on the pressure His love is what comes out? Ask Him to replace your frustration with His peace. It can be so frustrated trying to make it all work in your own power.
Would you be willing to trust Him to control your circumstances as you relax in Him? Ask Jesus to replace your insecurity with His power? You can have a sense of confidence that comes from Him, not from what you wear, or what you do, or how you look. If you’ve never said “yes” to Jesus, why not today? Every day is a good day to say yes to Him.
Say, “Jesus come in and be the Lord of my life. I need Your help and I want to live for You. I want to believe in You.” I am convinced of this. You will never tame your temper on your own. We need a POWER greater than OUR OWN to overcome issues with anger. But with God’s help, today could be a turning point, a defining moment in your life. God can change in an instant, but sometimes it is more of a journey that begins with a decision and a willingness to walk in obedience to God’s Word and will each and every day. If you fall, own it, get up, and try again. With His help you can make it.