Nothing seems to get us in more trouble than the improper use of our tongues, and when the tongue resorts to angry words we often see problems that can have long lasting hurtful consequences. One of the many amazing things about Jesus was that he had absolute control over what He said to others. Even when Jesus did use language because of anger, it was done with righteous justification and was motivated by His love for God and mankind (see John 2:13-21; Matt. 23). We often say things in anger without realizing the long-term consequences our words can have. Many marriages, friendships, and congregations have been splintered and divided over a few harshly spoken angry words. H.R. Palmer summed it up well in his hymn “Angry Words.” He wrote, “Love is much too pure and holy, friendship is too sacred fair, for a moments reckless folly thus to desolate and mar. Angry words are lightly spoken, bitterest thoughts are rashly stirred, and brightest links of life are broken by a single angry word” (Church Gospel Songs & Hymns, 1983, Pg. 11). James had a great deal to say about the dangers of the tongue in chapter three of his book. He wrote, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (Jam. 3:6). The Bible repeatedly teaches us about the danger of losing control of our tongue, and details the many ways it can be used to hurt others and endanger our own souls. One of those many ways includes speaking angry words. Let’s consider a few of the consequences of using them.
1. Angry words are often spoken out of vengeance towards someone who has hurt us. We often feel the urge to defend ourselves from persecution or verbal attack with angry words of our own. This may feel like the natural thing to do, but it is not what the Bible would have us to do. Jesus stated, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:11,12). We must remember that Christians are not in the revenge business. God will take care of that. The apostle Paul wrote, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). Our verbal restraint can be used to impress on someone the power and love of God.
2. Angry words can leave a lasting impression on those who know we are Christians. Christians are supposed to be the “salt of the earth” and a “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13,14). We are supposed to be these things so people will glorify God when they see our good works (Matt. 5:16). The use of angry words will hinder us from being the example to the world that we should be. One of our greatest evangelistic tools is the way we live our life each day. People are watching to see how we live and speak as children of God.
3. Angry words will hinder the loving relationships we should all strive to have. Marriages, friendships, working relationships, and the love we have amongst brethren can all suffer from words spoken out of anger. Some of these relationships may never recover. We have all seen this happen before. Angry words are hard to take back. We must all learn to exercise self-control, so we can stop the problem before it ever leaves our mouths. Remember, we show our love for God by the love that we have for one another (1 John 5:2,3). When we speak angry words to another Christian, we are speaking angry words to God. -Ed