In the 22nd through the 24th chapters of Proverbs, Solomon gives his students thirty basic pieces of wisdom upon which to build a life. Within those thirty wisdom statements he writes six specific instructions on relationship issues. Let’s dig into them this week.
The first one is found in Proverbs 22:24-25.
“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.”
This sounds pretty straightforward for us, right? Avoid people who are quick-tempered. We are already making a list of the people that fit this description. We are thankful that we now have permission from the Bible to write them off. But have we considered the possibility that we might be the person on someone else’s list?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the “in control” person of Proverbs 29:11 who “keeps himself under control” and 10 being the hot-tempered person of Proverbs 29:11 who “gives full vent to his anger”, where would we rate ourselves? After you rate your anger level, consider this: anyone who is rated below you on the scale may consider you the person to avoid.
Let’s clarify that anger in itself is not a sin; it is an emotion. But how it is expressed can be sinful. Maybe the sinful expression of anger is not a problem for us. Make sure that others are the ones telling us that it is not a problem and that it is not a self-imposed qualification.
Maybe the problem for us is the stirring up of anger in others. Proverbs 30:33 says, “For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” People may be avoiding you because you tend to cause them stress and strife.
Solomon then tells us why we should avoid people who are hot-tempered: because it is contagious. Angry people drag us down. Bitter people discourage us. When we are around people with chips on their shoulders, we become comfortable wearing our chips. Some people just have a terrible attitude towards life. Everything is wrong with it, and they gain some sort of satisfaction in always expressing their dissatisfaction. They tend to believe that life, God, and the government owe them something. People like this are a real bummer to our faith. We must realize the potential for the contagious disease of sinful anger to be transmitted to us through people who do not live by faith in God alone.
Now be careful before you withdraw totally from them. Someone has to help them come to faith in Jesus Christ, and that may be you or me. God’s wisdom of relationships with such people is this – get close enough to influence them for Christ but not so close that they influence you to loss faith in Christ.
Proverbs 29:8 says “Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger.” Let’s be wise!