Fighting Words

We must watch our language when we are angry.  James wrote, “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  Many people have damaged or destroyed their reputation because they would restrain their tempers.  Anger acts like an intoxicant that can cause one to lose control and do or say things he typically would not.  Christians must have their tempers under our control, to “be angry and sin not.”  Paul condemned the following types of wrathful language in Colossians 3:8:

  • Anger:  An excitement of the mind and violent passion.  W.E. Vine* suggests that this is a settled or abiding condition of the mind that frequently has a view towards revenge.
  • Wrath:  The outburst resulting from anger inside.
  • Malice:  “A disposition or intent to injure others for gratification of anger” (David Lipscomb).
  • Blasphemy (KJV – railing):  Scornful and derisive language directed at man or God.  “To blame with bitterness” (Lipscomb).
  • Add to this list gossiping and backbiting that is condemned in 2 Corinthians 12:20.  Gossip pushes another person down in order to lift up the speaker.

No one speaks wrathful language in love and it does not edify the hearer.  It tears at a person, as a wild animal would devour his helpless prey.  When we talk with our spouses, parents, children, and friends, we must be especially careful not to allow our familiarity to be a license for such shameful speech.  Consider Proverbs 15:1-2:  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”  The prudent man controls his anger, Proverbs 12:16.

*Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

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Categories: Christian Living

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