Full Vent

Full Vent

I am a fool. I know ministers are often painted as perfect and spotless people, but I certainly am not the best I could be. About a week ago, I was taking care of my boys, who were being excessively obnoxious and rowdy. I had tried to settle them down in a calming and mature way, but they weren’t responding to me; in fact, they were flat-out ignoring me. In my frustration and anger, I decided (and I don’t know why this seemed like a good idea at the time) to kick the refrigerator. I instantly knew what a terrible decision I had made… Refrigerator – 1— Toe – 0. Now I had wild and crazy children, a throbbing toe, and still no peace in the house. All I could do was hop around, try to nurse my big toe, and reflect on my foolishness.  

Anger can definitely be a problem. However, anger often gets dismissed as a harmful or unnecessary emotion. Although we know that anger is not only a God-given emotion, it is one that He has displayed throughout His dealings with humanity, especially with the wayward Israelites. However, God’s anger is always characterized and portrayed differently than I exhibit. Therefore, we see a far different picture when we read of God’s anger. 

Psalm 86:15 – “But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, Slow to anger and abundant in mercy and truth.”

Psalm 30:4-5 – “Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And praise the mention of His holiness. 5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy [comes] in the morning.”

We see that when God displays anger, it is slow and only for a moment; this is because God’s anger has a purpose. And indeed, anger can have a purpose; it can motivate us to change or adjust our surroundings. It can encourage us to fix injustices and pursue a more righteous path. But it can also be misused and can have harmful effects. God is perfect in His conduct, but I don’t always handle my emotions appropriately. That is why as we read through God’s word, we see directions for how to use this emotion. 

Proverbs 29:11 “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise person holds it in check.”

Galatians 5:19-21 – “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Ephesians 4:26-27 – “BE ANGRY AND DO NOT SIN. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity.”

We see that only a fool gives “full vent” to their anger, like me kicking a refrigerator. Had I paused and restrained myself, held my temper in check, my toe would not be throbbing. When we let our emotions fly unbridled, we can be destructive, allowing our adversary to let sin enter our lives. We also become aware that “outbursts of anger” are deeds of the flesh. These outbursts are not productive and feed that carnal side of our lives; we do it because it feels good. It might feel liberating at the moment (unless you hurt your toe), but in reality, you are a prisoner to your own fits of rage. Instead, God gives us the instruction to control that anger, yet to pursue a resolution without allowing that anger to give way to sin. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he instructs them to resolve that anger-inducing issue before the sun goes down. 

It is easy to let our emotions get the better of us. However, that is not an excuse to let them be left unchecked. We are people of the Spirit, and self-control is one of those byproducts (fruit) of that Spirit. Certainly, some situations may make our blood boil, but we don’t react at the moment, erupting like a volcano. Instead, we control ourselves and slow that emotional reaction; if a situation needs to be addressed, we make the necessary adjustments and move forward. Only a fool will give their anger full vent. I pray that I am less of a fool in the future.