It was fun to look up the process of churning butter. The cream is shaken or agitated until it ruptures the fragile membranes surrounding milk fat. Then the fat droplets join with each other to form clumps. Further along in the process foam is formed (buttermilk) and drained off. Churning butter takes time and requires repetitive movement.
There were several words in this description that seem to go with along with the concept of anger: shaken, agitated, rupture, fragile, and foam. When angry, I am definitely agitated and shaken. There is damage done to fragile relationships and they can rupture. It can seem like “foaming at the mouth” when one is so angry one loses all control. Strife with colleagues, friends, or family is the very natural result.
What is so interesting about the image used in our verse is the time element. Anger, whether justified or not, can become sin when allowed to churn in our hearts over time (Eph.4:26). Going over and over an offense in our minds is that repetitive movement. Eventually, strife and division are produced making everything worse.
My anger often hurts me more than anyone else. It certainly hurts me more than my offender. Sometimes there are even physical consequences to my anger. That churning inside me can lead to heartburn, tension, or sleeplessness. How much better to stop the churning and let it go.
Lord, keep me as “sweet cream!” Do not let my hurt pride or my trampled rights churn away inside! Help me let it go.