1 Corinthians 10:23- Applied: Dealing With Anger

You’ve probably said a few bad words. You might have regretted a few. They might have made you feel better. Maybe your mom scolded you. Maybe she had you wash your mouth out with soap.

I remember the day I thought a bad word in my head. Of course, I didn’t say it out-loud, but I was mad and the word just *popped* into my head. I think I was 13 or 14. I was a prudish child, and I suppose most people might still consider me to be so, though I feel I’m much less serious these days. In the following years I began to think that bad words were really just words… A bit stronger than normal words, but it was really okay to say them sometimes. I really don’t mind when people cuss a bit here or there, one 4-letter word doesn’t bother me too much. Now every other word, I figure you’re just a bitter person with nothing to really say and that’s obnoxious.

Now, I don’t think an angry word here or there is really going to ruin your life. Because it’s not. I remember one day a while back I was talking about something and I said that it “really pissed me off.” And someone stopped me, and they said, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that before, Merry.” It occurred to me, that I probably never actually had. I really just don’t use stronger language all that often, though I have before. And I see myself, and some of the friends I’ve known for a while grow more and more okay with the kind of language we use and the things that we say.

Verbatim is quite fascinating. On one hand, the difference between saying “dang it” and “damn it” is only a mere letter. Yet, I recall writing a novel a few years back and feeling guilty for writing the latter of the two, but thinking that my character wouldn’t go for anything less than that. There is a whole sort of level of using these words, they’re “off-limits” and it makes a person feel better in some regard to grab something off the shelf of “off-limits” and throw it in the expanse of space between themselves and the situation, much like pulling down a glass vase, in spite, and letting it shatter on the floor.

1 Corinthians 10:23 says: “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

These snappy, spiteful words gain a person very little. We think to ourselves, yes, I can say this, it’s not a big deal, but is it really constructive? I had recently been thinking that perhaps there was a time and place to use a fiery word. I think anyone can probably reason and say it’s not constructive to ever use bad language to a person or about a person.“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”- Proverbs 15:1. Honestly, any time you use one of those “off-limits” words, you’re playing into your own anger.

Have you ever noticed that when someone asks you about a situation that you’d previously been upset about, that when you begin to recount what had happened, your anger reappears? 

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says: Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

I believe that strong words help to provoke our spirits. Things have been piling up wood in a pit of anger, and the words we choose can light the match, even in our own hearts. Satan tempts us, especially as young Christians, into the idea that it’s okay to act on anger, even with our words. But Jesus taught us to be slow to anger and abounding in love.

I’ve heard it said that often, as Christians we ask “how close can I get to sin, before I’m sinning?” When we should really be asking “How far can I get away from sin?” A spirit of anger cannot be filled with love, it burns with rage, bitterness, and selfishness. Is not most of our anger out of spite that things have not gone our way? It is not wrong to be angry, but to be anger quickly, and to stay angry. . .  you’d be surprised how much energy you’re wasting doing so.

Working in fast food industry, Chick-fil-A, I’ve seen a lot of people lose their temper quickly over really stupid stuff. And I see myself do it. It wastes energy. It wears a person out to get angry, it brings other people down, it hurts people’s feelings, so then they get mad. Suddenly my whole workplace nearly goes up in flames in anger and frustration.

Throwing one harsh word into the mix really makes situations explode in fury. Each person knows that these particular word, though they may be only a few letters different from those considered “cleaner,” carry a lot of weight.

The Bible warns us not to be easily angered, but to be slow to anger, as God is. I know that sometimes I struggle with this. If you’re someone who struggles with anger, think about how you treat a frustrating situation. Do you tell people off? Do you say a nasty word about the situation later or even during the event? Are you stirring up the anger repeatedly by talking about the situation constantly, reminding yourself and everyone else how angry you are? I encourage you, pick one of these things to work on, and let other people know you’re working on it so that they can keep you accountable. You won’t become slow to anger in one night, but working on the language you use really does make a difference.

1 Corinthians 10:23 helps us live a different way, there are things we can choose to do, things in the grey area, but this verse helps to guide us out of the grey area and encourages us to work on having pure minds, pure intentions, and pure mouths.