“Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself,” Proverbs 22:24 – 25.
Anger is contagious. Let me write that again – anger is contagious. There are angry families, groups of angry “friends”, angry companies, angry political constituencies, angry nations, and sadly…angry churches. Amidst a society of anger we find its concomitant – hate. As we justify anger we justify hate, and as we justify hate we demonize those with whom we do not agree – they are no longer humans created in the image of God for whom Christ Jesus died, they are simply objects in our way deserving obliteration.
I write this in a presidential election year in the United States in which flags of anger have been raised by candidates, goading their followers into higher and higher crescendos of anger and hate – the candidates feed off the crowds and the mobs feed off the candidates. Anger is contagious.
The fact that we are not repulsed by the foaming seas of anger, but rather that we justify anger, speaks to the fact that when a people have drunk from the goblet of anger that they are infected to the point of delirium. Anger as a way of life is degenerating – it degenerates our morals, our ethics, our minds, our hearts; it darkens our souls.
The contagious nature of anger is not only a warning to us to beware of whom we join ourselves to, it is also a reminder to us of how our own anger can infect others. An angry husband or an angry wife can pollute a marriage with anger, poisoning children and other family members. An angry boss can engage in a reign of terror in an organization, teaching his or her people that unless they also live lives of anger that they will not survive the cruelty of the firm. Angry political leaders can bypass the thought processes of an electorate by appealing to its anger and by directing anger toward others who become the scapegoats for everything wrong in society.
When we associate with people who are angry we forge snares for ourselves, for we cannot but learn the ways of anger when we choose to associate with people of anger. These snares capture our minds and hearts and souls, we are trapped in the ways of anger and the ways of hate; they become hideously natural to us, dehumanizing our existence, until we live as instinctual brute beasts devoid of sympathy, humility, or humanity. We rant and rave and give one another merit badges for anger; who knows if there is a limit to the escalation? Perhaps mankind, perhaps our own nation, will spend itself on anger until it has lost all reason and all heart to resist evil – our anger will consume us. We are going mad and we glory in our madness.
As followers of Jesus Christ we must not glory in anger; we must glory in the Prince of Peace. Though all the world around us toss and turn and foam and billow with hate and anger, we must, we must, we absolutely must, bow our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ and refuse to be engulfed in these oceans of anger. Jesus is the Reconciler, and we are to be ambassadors of reconciliation. Jesus died of all – and we are to live for all…and die too if necessary. Jesus tells us that His brothers and His Father’s children are peacemakers – called to make peace in the tumult of anger.
Far better to associate ourselves with the Prince of Peace, the Man of Sorrows – than with the anger that manifested itself when it nailed Him to the tree.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.”