The Wrath of Man

Michael Beck

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We all have things we would like others to do differently, even those who are “dearly beloved” to us.

Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults (2 Corinthians 12:19,20)

We become frustrated when another’s behavior doesn’t change.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)

In our frustration we can speak hastily and unwisely.

A fool’s wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame. (Proverbs 12:16)

Our agitated disappointment with another can cause us to lay it on them too heavily.

A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both. (Proverbs 27:3)

Unwisely expressing our anger will not change another for the better.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:19,20)

He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail. (Proverbs 22:8)

3 Reasons the Rod of Anger Fails

1. People don’t respond well to pressure. No one likes to be “pushed.”

Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:7)

2. People don’t know how to change their engrained habits. They are “stuck in their ways.”

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9,10)

desperately wicked > Hebrew – anash > KJV – incurable 5, desperate 1, desperately wicked 1, woeful 1, sick

3. People are offended by condemnation. They become defensive when they feel their person (i.e. who they are) is “under attack.

When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah. (Psalm 39:11)

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? (Proverbs 20:6)

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2)

Even God declared that the rod of His anger could not heal His children of the crooked “ways” (i.e., habits ) of their hearts.

For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him. (Isa. 57:17-19)

The Lord foretold of a day when He would cure those who could neither understand nor change themselves, if they would be humble and broken enough to call upon Him.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not … Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. (Jer. 33:3,6)

Until a person’s heart changes, their actions will not change. All true, lasting change comes from God. Condemnation is passing final sentence on people. It communicates: “You are the way you are; you will never change.”

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18)

When any person is in Christ, they go from a place of condemnation, where there is no hope of any real and lasting change, to a place where by the Spirit of Christ in them can fashion them into all God wants them to be.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

God would use every frustrating situation we are in to teach us patience and longsuffering.

By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone. (Proverbs 25:15)

By long-suffering is a ruler persuaded, And a soft tongue breaketh a bone. (Proverbs 25:15 YLT)

The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. (Proverbs 19:11)

Our correction of others must be done with carefulness, otherwise it can do more harm than good.

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. (2 Corinthians 7:9)

Paul gloried in his weakness. His inability to change others, made him all the more dependent on Christ. He didn’t want to move in the heat and hastiness of his own spirit to make a situation worse.

For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction. Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:9-11)

Living in peace with others doesn’t mean getting them to do and be right in our eyes. Peacemaking is a spiritual “art.” In crucibles of suffering, the Holy Spirit would teach us to walk in lowliness, meekness, long-suffering, forbearance, and love.

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in loveEndeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

We need supernatural strength to be able to bear with others until they experience God-wrought change.

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness (Colossians 1:10,11)

Don’t let the failure of another to change, stop you from changing. Focus less on where they are, and more on how God wants to refine you, even through the most trying situations you face.

Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. (Isaiah 48:10)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.