You Need to Break Up With Your Angry Friend
“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.” –Proverbs 22:24-25
Twitter can’t be my buddy. Neither can talk radio.
This Proverb is simple, really. Anger in others tends to be repulsive, but when it comes from within our own tribe it’s justified. If we makes friends with angry people we’re going to be trapped in their snare, and we’ll become angry people ourselves. Charles Bridges says it well:
Common intercourse with a furious man is like living in a house that is on fire. His unreasonable conduct stirs our own tempers. One fire kindles another. Occasional bursts of passion soon form the habit. The habit becomes our nature…We learn anger easier than meekness. We convey disease, not health. (Bridges, 420)
I try to read through a chapter of Proverbs every day. I read Proverbs 22 on a day when I had a steady diet of Twitter conversations. I was feeling deeply discouraged. It felt as if the world around me was burning (and indeed it might be). There was so much anger. So much injustice being exposed. So many tweets pointing out hypocrisy. Some I agreed with—others made me hot with the rage of disagreement.
Then I read this Proverb and thought about Twitter as an angry friend. If this “friend” is fueling this type of negativity in my life then it’s not a friend. An angry friend probably has a few redeeming qualities, but this proverb calls us to not befriend a person given to anger. Never. Ever. Period.
The Lord convicted me about 15 years ago concerning talk radio. I was working for a parts store, delivering parts, listening to angry talk radio during the day then being a youth pastor at night. This proverb was playing out in my life and I didn’t like it. I’m thankful the Lord deeply convicted me in this area. I turned them off and haven’t looked back.
I also looked back over some of my sermons during those years. It pained me to see how tainted they were by a bubbling rage. I didn’t view people with hope. I viewed them with suspicion. I was a cynic and it occasionally peaked through the pages of my sermons. I”m grateful for the Lord’s grace in tempering me.
I had to break up with my talk radio friend. And I’m beginning to wonder if I need to do the same with Twitter. It’s not apples to oranges though. You’re entirely passive when it comes to your talk-radio buddy. Social media is more given and take. So, I’m trying to figure out how to engage but to not be sucked into the negativity. If I find that I cannot, I suppose we’ll need to break up.
One thing I do know, we cannot tolerate angry friends. If we aren’t speaking into their lives then we’re being influenced by them and being sucked into their rage. We have to keep our pulse on this. We will not drift into holiness in this area. We are bent towards negativity. The gospel calls us to something higher.
I write this the day of angry protestors stormed the Capitol building. I also write it the day after God providentially had me teaching out of Philippians 4:4-8. Watching the news and having Philippians 4:4-8 encouraging my soul provided a sharp contrast. David Murray is correct when he says,
“we are what we think. If our minds constantly feed on all this negativity, our moods will inevitably darken, taking everything else—our words, actions, health, relationships, and so forth—down with them into the abyss.” (Murray, xv)
Philippians 4:8 is also true. When we challenge ourselves to cast our cares upon the Lord and think about His goodness and grace it transforms our thinking. It’ll cause you to be a bit more off-put by that angry friend. There is goodness and beauty in our world.
I believe this challenge from David Murray is fitting for our day. “Don’t look for what you can critique; look for what you can admire and invite others to enjoy it with you.” (33)
I realize the irony of this post being about the potential need to “break-up” with social media. But that’s actually what I’m attempting to say here. If I cannot find the goodness and beauty in social media, if it doesn’t lead to a greater enjoyment of God, then it’s not serving it’s purpose. It’s only an ensnaring friend.
Social media cannot be our friend. It’s too angry. The same goes for talk radio. Redeem them, speak truth to them, try to infuse beauty into them, but don’t befriend them.
This article originally appeared here.