Proverbs 30:33 “For the churning of milk produces butter; and pressing the nose brings forth blood; so the churning of anger produces strife.”

I like Proverbs. One doesn’t have to reach for a commentary to explain the context, background or words. Straight forward. Simple. Easy to get. I like preaching that’s the same way. And, here in our passage, wisdom is telling us about the danger of anger. There are so many things that will get a person angry these days. Say the wrong word and some folks are ready to launch missiles in your direction. Angry drivers on the road. Angry shoppers in stores. Angry patients at the doctor’s office. Angry neighbors. And, even angry church members. Everybody these days seems to be angry about something.

Our verse begins by bringing two practical and understood illustrations. The common link is churning or pressing. Churning milk produces butter. I’ve seen those old wooden butter churns. That’s how folks did it for centuries. Pressing the nose makes it bleed. I’ve never tried that on myself, but as a kid, I was hit a few times in the nose, and it bled. I got hit in the nose with a baseball once. That hurt. And, it bled.

Running on these two truths, comes the point and the principle of this passage. The pressing or the churning of anger creates strife. Here’s how that works, and I know because I’ve been there. Something upsets you. And you dwell upon it. You think about it. You play it over and over in your mind. In bed at night, you are still thinking about it. And, without realizing it, you are churning that anger over and over in your mind and heart. Unlike milk, it’s not making something worthwhile like butter. Instead, your anger leads to strife. You shoot off that hot email, giving someone a piece of your mind. You raise your voice and begin shouting at someone. You drive like a fool to get back at someone. You tell others. You stretch things in your favor. Somehow and in some way you feel compelled to do something bad to the other guy. That anger didn’t just sit still in your heart. It was pressed, churned and turned over and over. And, in stirring up that anger, more problems were created.

Now some thoughts:

First and very obviously, we see the danger of anger. James tells us to be slow to anger. He also says to be slow to speak. I expect there is a bridge and a connection between those two. The Ephesians were told not to let the sun go down on their anger and not to give the devil an opportunity. Anger is a personal invitation for Satan to roam freely through our hearts. Words that should never be thought of, let alone, spoken, come to the surface when we are mad. Things we said that we have forgiven and forgotten somehow surface again when we are angry. Nothing good is accomplished in anger. A person doesn’t look back and think, some of the best decisions and some of my finest moments were when I was mad. No, for righteous people, usually an apology follows our anger. We must ask for forgiveness because were not appropriate in our ways.

Second, this verse reminds us that sinful attitudes such as anger, lust, greed aren’t content just to simmer in our minds. These things lead to other things. And, those “other things,” are the expression of what was in our minds. There is just a small gate that keeps those thoughts from becoming actions and behavior in our lives. The story is so common and so old that I expect it when I talk to men about being unfaithful in their marriages. A man admits that he messed up. He was unfaithful. He broke his vows and his promises. But that’s not where it started. Sometimes, he’ll try to justify it by talking about the lack of intimacy in the marriage. But somewhere in the conversation the subject of pornography comes up. And, yes, that’s where all of this began. It started there, and like the churning of anger, the churning of lust leads to actions that now are regretted and filled with consequences.

Third and likewise very obvious, the solution is to stop churning. If you don’t want butter, don’t churn the milk. If you don’t want your nose to bleed, stop pressing your nose. And, if you want to stay clear from strife, then stop churning anger. Let the anger go. Get rid of it. Don’t keep it. Don’t keep replaying what happened. Don’t bury it and then return to the grave over and over. Let it go. Pray about it. Fill your heart with other things. Get busy doing good things. Be thankful you didn’t make yourself a fool by allowing the anger to get the best of you.

The Bible never says you won’t be angry. Even the Lord was angry. The question is what will the anger do to me? Will it sit around on a shelf in my mind until I press it and churn it and then become bitter and ruined by it? Or, will I get rid of it as soon as I can. Forgiving helps. Grace helps. Prayer helps. But churning never does any good.

So, the next time you put a dab of butter on a piece of bread or on your baked potato, take a look at that butter. It’s been churned. It turned out just as the farmer and the merchants wanted it to be. Now, take a look at your heart. Have you churned somethings that are not good for you? Are you turning out just as the Lord wants you to be? Could it be that we need to pitch a few things that remain in our hearts.

Milk to butter, nosebleeds and anger to strife…there is a connection and we do well to see it.


Roger Shouse is the preacher at Charlestown Road Church of Christ, New Albany, IN