Having angry friends will eventually train you to be an angry man. That is the gist of today's proverb. The statement, "do not associate" speaks of friendship. It speaks of those with whom we have close relationships. We are to avoid thos who are "given to anger" - meaning those who give themselves over to their anger. They do not control their anger - their anger controls them. If we wonder what a man given to anger looks like, we receive a little better description of him immediately afterward. He is referred to as a "hot-tempered man." The Hebrew here is very descriptive - referring to this man as a "hot-headed" man. The picture is of the angry man who becomes red in the face as he blows his top. We've all seen that before and need no further description to know about what the Bible is speaking.
The reason why we are not to have a friend who has serious anger problems is because of the principle of friendship. Here is the old west version of this principle Those we hang with may be the reason we are being hanged. In modern terms this principle is simply this. We will learn the behavior of our friends. The Bible puts it this way, "Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33) Therefore if we become close friends with a red-faced man - we will eventually be like him. We will learn his ways. The end of this is even more problematic. We will, through this situation, find a snare for ourselves.
The snare mentioned here is that we ourselves will become a "red-faced man." The anger that is in our close associate - will begin to manifest itself in our lives. Just a few days ago I was listening to a message by pastor Ken Graves and he made a devastatingly true comment about those who say that they have an "anger problem." Pastor Graves stated, "You don't have an anger problem, you have a self-love problem." That is a crushing thing to grasp when God first reveals it to you. Of course, this is only true because we pamper ourselves and justify our anger. We don't like it when people treat us badly - because we love ourselves so dearly. People should realize that we are worthy of far better treatment. If they just knew how truly awesome we are - like we know ourselves to be awesome - they'd treat us much better. Therefore we are justified in our anger - because a truly awesome person is being wronged! There, dear brothers, is the snare. The snare is not anger itself - but the self-love that perpetuates it.
God commands us to be angry - but not sin - and not to let the sun go down on our anger. There are truly righteous reasons to be angry (and none of them involve a love of self). Jesus was angry when He cleansed the temple courts. His anger was a righteous indignation that His Father's glory was being denigrated by making the place of worship and prayer a den of thieves. But other times Jesus was insulted, called terrible names, and even beaten and crucified - and did not react angrily. Maybe we should associate with Him and learn His ways? The Word tells us that if we take His yoke upon us and learn of His ways - we will find peace for our souls. God's promise is that as we behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord - we will be changed into that same image from glory to glory. Our character will truly reflect the glory of Jesus temperment. We will be changed from "red-faced" men to being "glory-faced' men.