Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Angry Words

Angry words! O let them never,
From the tongue unbridled slip,
May the heart’s best impulse ever,
Check them ere they soil the lip.

Love one another thus saith the Savior,
Children obey the Father’s blest command,
Love each other, love each other,
‘Tis the Father’s blest command.

The above song, here containing the first verse and refrain, was written by one known only by the initials D.K.P. The song has a beautiful melody arranged by H.R. Palmer, but the words of the anonymous poet are even more beautiful in their sentiment.

The author accurately contrasts anger with love. Specifically, the expression of anger with the expression of love. The two are most often opposites, and the outward expression of anger is seldom justifiable before God.

Most often anger is expressed in words. This is where men, including Christians, often struggle. The tongue is so difficult to control! James said, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (James 3:2-5). Men and women who would never consider expressing anger through physical violence nevertheless use sharp, biting and sarcastic language. Name calling, character aspersions, shouting, cursing and threats are common as they express their anger. This shows a clear lack of self-control, and is not appropriate for any who would name the name of Christ as Savior.

The tongue does not have to be “a fire, a world of iniquity” (James 3:6). Instead, the tongue can be a tool to bring about peace. “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). It depends upon whether the speaker is motivated by love.

As indicated by the writer James, to refrain from angry words, one must be able to exercise restraint. This truth is ably demonstrated in the song:

Angry words are lightly spoken,
bitterest thoughts are rashly stirred,
brightest links of life are broken,
by a single angry word.

It is easy to speak lightly or rashly. It is easy to let a word “slip” that has far reaching implications. It is much more difficult to control ourselves and avoid harming others by our rash words. More difficult, but wiser.

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).

“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23).

“He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (Proverbs 17:27-28).

How the shall we use the tongue? It is a decision we should make before we become angry with others. We should remember the admonition of the apostle Paul, “‘Be angry and do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).

We can use our tongues for edification and love: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

Or, we can destroy with our tongues. But remember the consequence. We will be judged by our words: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

So, which will it be?