The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore, stop contention before a quarrel starts.
I was a pretty quiet kid even through high school, but there were times when some person or circumstance changed that for a moment or two. One particular incident occurred in eighth grade when I got into my first real fight. He had knocked my books out of my hands on a dare, and I reacted before I could even think about it. I just started swinging, and something unexpected happened after I threw that first punch. It was like I was on autopilot. I was just angry and swinging, and the anger seem to build with every punch I tried to throw. So out-of-control were my actions that I even swung at the faculty member who was trying to break it up, and what I let manifest in an instant took hours to leave me.
There are so many reasons why God instructs us to handle our anger well before it surfaces as words or actions. One of the most basic reasons is that an angry person is difficult to calm and control. This is because anger likes to have control of its own. The metaphor of water being released says it all. Like the dam whose breach begins with a single crack and a momentary drip, anger can start small and then break forth if not handled at that early beginning. The crack grows and multiplies, and the drip turns to a trickle before becoming a stream. There are ways to fix that damn before it eventually bursts, but waiting for that moment of breach is too late. Ignoring those small cracks is no different than simply opening the floodgates and letting the water flow where it may.
In our physical world, breached dams have taken out entire villages and towns. The instant flow of a great wall of water has snuffed out lives in a moment. The spiritual parallels here cannot be clear enough. When we allow our anger to manifest and be used against others, we do not have control over the damage we do. If we were able to see in the spirit what exactly we are destroying when we unleash our wrath on someone, I would wager that we would rethink whether it is worth it to put in the discipline to build godly self-control. The floodgates exist for reason, and we must learn to keep them secure. Father, build in us the self-control necessary to keep the mighty waters of our wrath at bay behind the floodgates.