Episode 1. Rash Words Pierce the Heart
Ever flown off the handle at someone – said something that you wish you could take back but you can’t? Yep we all have. And sometimes we still do. What we need – what we really need is a piece of wisdom that we can put into action – right there in the heat of […]
Ever flown off the handle at someone – said something that you wish you could take back but you can’t? Yep we all have. And sometimes we still do. What we need – what we really need is a piece of wisdom that we can put into action – right there in the heat of that moment. A piece of wisdom … that works.
There are times as I look back on my life when I’ve said things in the heat of the moment that I wish I hadn’t said. That I wish I could take them back, I wish I could undo. The problem is that once it’s said it’s out there. Once it’s said it’s impossible to take back.
And whilst words spat out in anger, in the heat of the moment may well be forgiven, these white hot words leave a scar that is never forgotten. And you know for some people those scars rob them of life. They go on hurting for years and years, even a lifetime.
And if we’ve dished it out no doubt we’ve all been on the receiving end of the odd angry outburst in our lives as well. Can you remember such a time? When someone you’ve respected, when someone you loved turned on you, lashed out at you with words that just tore you apart. I can. I can remember those times very clearly.
Isn’t it sad how often it’s the people we love the most, the people that we care about more than all the others around us with whom we exchange angry outbursts? In all my years of going to Church, listening to sermon after sermon, this is a subject I’ve never really heard a message of.
Perhaps a preacher here and a preacher there have hedged around it but words spoken in anger are amongst the most potent of all the destructive forces that we can unleash. And so today we’re going to spend some time talking together about this very thing.
Over the last 3 weeks we’ve been spending some time plundering the Old Testament Book of Proverbs for Gods wisdom in this series that I’ve called Wisdom That Works. And I for one have been astounded at the many, many different areas of life to which God graciously gives us His wisdom.
Wisdom’s more than knowledge, it’s a depth of insight that comes from experience. It’s not just knowing the right thing to do in a situation, it’s actually getting on and doing it.
If I’m confronted by a complex or a difficult or a messy situation and I know how I should handle it, I have the knowledge and the experience and the principles to do well at this but I don’t put them into action then no one is going to look at me and say, “gee, he showed some real wisdom today in that difficult situation didn’t he?”
Wisdom is knowing what to do and then doing it. That’s the whole point of wisdom. It’s having the theory and putting it into practice. And that’s never more true than when we’re angry.
Man oh man I have seen some crazy things done by people who are angry. Road rage for example. Can you believe road rage? People actually shoot each other dead on freeways because of some stupid traffic incident. I know that’s extreme but doesn’t it just show you how absolute crazy the things are that we do when we’re under the influence of anger and rage.
It seems that we throw reason right out the window and the adrenalin just takes over. There are many, many people in prison around the world today because of the crazy things they did in a fit of anger. And one of those crazy things that we do, as I said at the beginning of our time together today, is that we spit out horrible words.
Have a listen to what God has to say about that through King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs, chapter 12, verse 18:
Rash words are like sword thrusts but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Isn’t that so powerful? Let me say that again:
Rash words are like sword thrusts but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
A rash word is like a sword in the heart, it stabs so deeply, it hurts so much, it can so quickly destroy a relationship. In an instant, years of relationship building can be torn asunder by a rash word. In an instant a marriage can be damaged so deeply and just a handful of these sword thrusts can literally tear a marriage apart.
We’ve all done it and we’re all capable of doing it again. In a fit of rage, stabbing a loved one in the heart with rash words spat out in anger. But look at the alternative:
The tongue of the wise brings healing.
Wisdom is what we need in the midst of anger. We all get angry from time to time and the Apostle Paul tells us this, Ephesians chapter 4, verse 26:
Be angry but do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger and don’t make room for the devil.
In other words, angers a natural reaction to a situation sometimes and it’s possible to be angry but not to sin. Just because we’re angry about something doesn’t mean we have to go ahead and act on that anger. Just because we have a flash of instantaneous anger or rage over something, it doesn’t mean that we have to take out a sword and stab someone in the heart with rash words.
From time to time I experience anger, we all do. And as much as it’s possible here’s what I try and do when I’m angry. I try to do nothing. Say nothing, do nothing, don’t react. I don’t always get that right but it’s something I’m learning because I used to be one of the angriest people you’ll ever meet. Truly.
But anger’s so ugly and so now when someone makes me really angry I work hard at not reacting straight away. Again in Ephesians, this is what Paul says, Ephesians chapter 4, verse 31:
Put away from you all bitterness, wrath, anger, wrangling, slander, together will all malice. And instead be kind to one another. Tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven you. So be imitators of God as beloved children and live in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us. A fragrant offering and a sacrifice unto God.
Most times we’re angry because someone’s offended us. We’ve been denied our rights as we see them. And we want to lash out but what if we listen to Gods wisdom and imitated Him. What if we, you and I, the next time someone makes us angry became imitators of God instead:
This God who is merciful and gracious and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Exodus chapter 34, verse 6.)
The flash of anger, we hold our tongue, we keep our sword in the scabbard, our mouth shut and we remember that our God is slow to anger with us. But towards us He abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness. And then, then we do what Solomon said, instead of using our mouth to stab someone in the heart with rash words, we speak instead through Gods wisdom:
The wisdom from above which is pure and peaceable and gentle and willing to yield and full of mercy and good fruits. (James chapter 3, verse 16.)
We speak peace from Gods wisdom. Just think about that. We speak peace from Gods wisdom and in so doing our words bring healing instead of pain. Proverbs chapter 15, verse 1:
A soft answer turns away wrath but the harsh word stirs up anger.
This is the sort of wisdom that you and I need right in the middle of that angry moment. It’s the sort of wisdom that brings love and mercy and healing and forgiveness right into a highly charged tense moment. It’s the sort of wisdom that speaks of Gods love that dissolves the anger and that brings peace.
My friend, this isn’t a theory lesson, this is a practical, this stuff actually works. It’s Gods wisdom, it’s wisdom that works. May He bless us ever so richly as we take His word and His wisdom and put them in our hearts. Just tuck them away there because one day soon, I guarantee you, we’re going to need this bit of wisdom. One day soon we can be a mighty blessing when we put His wisdom to work.
A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.