Misery loves company. So does anger. Anger has a way of spreading like a virus. It’s almost as if it is airborne and infecting those who come anywhere near its host. But unlike a virus, anger can spread in other ways. It can spread through computers and apps and radios and televisions.
A few years ago, I realized that I was an angry person. By that, I mean there was always this sense of anger, smoldering deep down in me. I was ready to take on just about anyone in a political fight. I wouldn’t say I had a chip on my shoulder because I didn’t go around daring people to knock it off, but if I had the opportunity to express my argument about what I thought of the president or the latest scandal or some other political issue, I would. All this anger was exhausting, literally.
One day, I woke up tired of being tired and angry. What was it that was fueling my rage? As I began to examine my days, I noticed two exploiters of my natural tendencies toward anger: talk radio and 24-hour news channels. I was spending hours a day listening to people rant and rave about politics. And what they said began feeding my soul. If you’ve ever seen “Little Shop of Horrors,” then you understand what I mean when I say my anger was a little Audrey II, but as I fed it more and more from talk radio and 24-hour news channels, it began to grow into a monstrous man-eating plant. At least that’s the way I saw myself. Perhaps it wasn’t that bad or perhaps it was much worse.
What did I do? Jesus said, “If your right hand causes your to sin, cut it off.” So, I cut myself off from talk radio first. I think I’ve only listened to talk radio once or twice in the last four years. I don’t like it at all. Like a regular pop guy trying to drink a diet soda and gagging over it, so talk radio has become repugnant to me. Eventually, our family cut off satellite television and 24-hour news channels disappeared too. I also try not to let social media get me riled up. I often stop following those who are always seeking to argue over politics (though not always). I don’t mind anyone expressing opinions, but expressing opinions and expressing anger are two different outlets to me.
Why do I bring all this up? Because of Proverbs 22:24-25, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare,” (ESV). That’s what I’d done and it is what I’d become. I had surrounded myself with anger and unsurprisingly, I became angry. I still have my political views and I still express them. And sometimes I get upset over things going on in politics. In fact, I preached about the presidential election the week before election day out of Judges 9 (I’ll let you look it up). But I do not follow politics like I used to. It used to be that people would come to me about issues and circumstances, and I would tell them what I thought and what they should think. Most have learned not to ask me because I probably don’t know and haven’t heard about the issues. I would rather not be so angry. I’d rather not be caught up in a snare.