Keeping It Under Control

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Proverbs 29:11

While I wait for my hot water to boil in the tea kettle on the stove, I listen to the water beginning to boil. Just before it is ready, it becomes very quiet, then it vents steam and blows a whistle. When I read this verse in Proverbs, it reminds me of the contrast between the quietness of the boiling water and the boiling water that vents its steam and blows a loud whistle.

Letting off steam when you are angry may help you feel better, but one has to think about how venting can affect those around you. Often when we are really angry about others' words or actions, we may want to just get it off our chest. Proverbs 29:11 is suggesting that it may benefit us to keep our anger under control and deal with it in a much healthier way.

Sometimes asking the other person if you might speak to them at a later time may help you hold back from venting, but ultimately we need to learn to lean on the Lord first, asking Him to help us keep our anger under control. Blasting your anger at someone is never beneficial. All it does is create a wall between you and the other person. So perhaps if you ask God for guidance in dealing with the anger, then speak to the other person in a gentle but firm tone, it may help you to keep things in perspective and under control.

The actual Hebrew meaning for this concept of keeping yourself under control is to still the anger (Gesenius's Lexicon). Just like the tea kettle before it boils becomes still, we need to learn to control what we are feeling and how it will manifest itself with others.

This verse in Proverbs also contrasts the foolish and the wise. I prefer to walk down the wise path when it comes to dealing with my anger toward others. What about you?

The next time you boil water in a tea kettle, may it remind you of the contrast of the foolish man who vents his anger and the wise one who keeps it under control!