After a few minutes we are finally warming up, both outside and in. The hardwoods will begin to coal up and suddenly, though the flames may be lower, the heat is much higher. I often need to turn a bit to the sides to keep my pants and the legs within them from scorching. Sometimes we even need to push our chairs back a foot or two, and Chloe suddenly prefers to sit to the side on her pile of carefully raked up pine straw rather than right next to us. When it gets that hot, all you have to do is look up and even on a perfectly still morning, see the leaves on the branches 30 feet above our heads dancing in the heat waves. Hot air rises, they taught us in science class, and there is the proof of it.
The Bible uses "heat" as a metaphor for anger, particularly when referring to God's anger. He let loose on them his burning anger, wrath, indignation, and distress…(Ps 78:49). But the same figure is used of our anger as well. A hot-tempered man stirs up strife…(Prov 15:18). Before we go too far along with this, we would do well to remember that anger is not necessarily a sin. Be angry and sin not, Paul says in Eph 4:26. But too often, that becomes the excuse du jour, a little too handy and too often used. Still, we are right to be angry about some things. Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law (Ps 119:53), but I fear that too often, our anger has nothing to do with our defense of God, righteousness and justice, but simply of ourselves and what was done to us.
If a man has a constant problem with anger, the real issue isn't what caused the anger, but the fact that he is simply an angry man. Anything can raise his hackles at the least provocation, and just like the heat from our morning fire, it will rise to the top, causing turmoil and upset. It is not just his problem; it affects everyone around him. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife (Prov 26:21). And perhaps worse, Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare (Prov 22:24-25). An angry man is not a happy man and he had rather no one else be happy either. It should go without saying that he is no fun to be around.
Many angry men have the mistaken idea that their anger is a sign of strength. God says otherwise. A man with a quick temper is a fool (Prov 14:17; Eccl 7:9)). He has no understanding (Prov 14:29). He is weak (16:32), and he has no sense (19:11). That's what God thinks of him.
So when you notice the hot air rising, especially within yourself, take a step backwards and reflect. Why are you so easily angered? (It can happen to women as well as men, you know.) What has gotten so deep inside your heart that you can no longer control it? No bad day or difficult circumstance can ever excuse it. For some who are deeply damaged, it might require some professional help, but for the average person, it is a choice he makes when he decides to let anger take the controls. Other people experience the same difficulties and manage to handle them in a righteous manner, including the Lord when he was on this earth. With him on your side, so can you.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (Jas 1:19-20).