Monday, November 23, 2015

Homer & Scripture on Anger

Confession...I get angry way too much. I get ticked off, irritated, annoyed...with my husband, my kids, and just about every other person I regularly rub shoulders with.

And no matter what euphemism I'd like to call it...well, let's be wholly honest. It's anger.

The Iliad's famous first line is...

Rage-goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles...

A whole lot of the saga of the Iliad is connected with Achilles' anger and it's results. It's not pretty.

Some (not as famous) lines as the starting salvo of the Iliad, but lines that I nonetheless enjoyed are in Book 10. It tells of some advice Peleus gave to Achilles...

"'My son, victory is what Athena and Hera will give, if they so choose,
But you, you hold in check that proud, fiery spirit of yours inside your chest!
Friendship is much better. Vicious quarrels are deadly-
put an end to them at once. Your Achaean comrades,
young and old, will exalt you all the more....'
But now at last, stop, Achilles-let your heart devouring anger go!"

But, if this wasn't enough, the next day I was reading in Ecclesiastes 7. And maybe it was the different translation, but this really stuck out to me. (it stuck out to me, but then I turned around and got quite upset with a person in my life.)

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.

Wow! That's harsh.

We give voice to our anger- venting our opinions, annoyances, offenses, frustrations, anger. And we'd like to think that it presents us as superior. Whew! I really put them in their place right there.

We are all paragons of righteous anger. Or so we'd like to think.

If they hadn't done _____, then we wouldn't be angry.

Homer refers to anger as devouring our own hearts, and Solomon says that angry people are actually fools.


Anger is destructive and it leaves a plethora of destruction in it's wake. Destruction of relationships, and people and property and our own souls.

Anger is ugly. It screws up our faces, and voices, and glowing personalities, and makes them ugly.

Anger is frightening and intense and has massive consequences.

I don't want to be known as an angry person. I don't want to be an angry person.

I sure don't want someone to write an epic poem about the rage of Bernadette. How awful.

While Homer is poetic and inspiring, it has no power to change our lives. But, thankfully, Scripture does. Scripture is living and powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword. It discerns even the thoughts and intents of the heart.

And when those thoughts and intents are revealed, it has the power to cleanse us from that resident evil. (Ephesians 5:25)

Scripture is our offensive weapon, our sword, to fight against sin in our lives.

So, while these thoughts have convicted my heart, they have not brought despair. Acknowledging the problem is the first step. And then confession. Repentance. And continuing on in the strength of the Holy Spirit in new paths.

Love. Joy. Peace. Long-suffering. Gentleness. Goodness. Faith. Meekness. Self-control.

Non-angry, non-frustrated, non-irritated, non-annoyed paths.