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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Angry, hotheaded people

Don't hang out with angry people;
   don't keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—
   don't get infected.
(Proverbs 22:24-25)

The writer of Proverbs prefaces this section in the book of Proverbs with a challenge to both listen carefully to the wisdom being laid out and to take it to heart.  Then he spends time enumerating thirty "sterling principles" by which to live.  In turn, he promises that these are tested guidelines to live by - guidelines that will hold us accountable in our daily walk.  The passage above is taken from this set of guidelines.

There is a stern warning to avoid hanging out with the wrong company - angry people and hotheads.  Angry people are generally miserable people to be around.  Their entire disposition emanates the intense desire to respond to life with outbursts of injuring behaviors.  Hotheads just don't think before they respond - they simply allow the emotions to guide their response.

Both present a challenge in relationship.  Being around someone who is given to constantly being exasperated, expressing that exasperation in violent outbursts, is exhausting.  You find yourself constantly on-guard, just waiting to "duck" out of the pathway of their fury.  These individuals have no idea the wake of injured they leave in their path.  

Our warning is to avoid them - don't keep company with them.  Why?  Because their emotional state is contagious!  There is an infectious quality about their behavior.  The tendency of these individuals is that of having a complaining and bitter heart.  In turn, they either drive others away, or draw those in who want to commiserate with them in their misery.

Why is that God warns us against keeping company with these individuals?
Since their behavior is based on the perception that they have suffered some injustice, been treated in a wrong manner, or have an injury resulting from some action taken by another, there is a tendency to also become quite "satisfied" in the blaming of another (justifying) for the actions or response of an outburst.  God wants us to be accountable for our actions - there is no place for shifting of blame to another.  We are what we are, we are where we are, because of how we have behaved, the values we have embraced, the compromises we have embraced.  No one "made us" like we are - the angry and hotheaded person does not believe that.  The comedian Flip Wilson used to have a saying, "The devil MADE me do it."  The truth is, no one "makes us" do anything.  All the "doing" stems from within.

God wants impassioned people - but he wants our passion to be expressed in ways that bring honor and glory to him, in turn, bringing evidence of his glory in our lives.  Guard against associating with those who damage the view of God's glory in your life and you will find that your life runs a little smoother!