Last week, we looked just a bit at fear. This week, we want to talk about anger. You know what anger is. It’s that seething beneath the skin that gives us ulcers and heart issues and increases our blood pressure. It’s that last straw that regrettably causes us to lose control of our words and actions.
Do you see the progression? It starts with seething and smoldering. The Bible uses the word kindled. Jacob’s anger kindled again Rachel in Genesis 30:2. Balaam’s anger kindled against the donkey in Numbers 22:27. Saul’s anger kindled against his son, Jonathan. And what happened when their kindling reach combustion point? They lashed out. James 3:5 warns us that a little kindling grows into a great fire.
Uncontrolled anger is destructive, and even letting it seethe damages our health. Denying it allows pressure to build up until vicious steam escapes scalding everyone around us and leaving a gaping hole in our hearts. It is based on pride. James 1:20 says our anger does not work for our good or the good of the Lord.
Just as God knew we would fear, he also knows we will experience anger. He experiences anger. Jesus experienced anger. It’s not the experience where the danger lies; it is in the outgrowth. Fear binds us. Anger exposes us.
Fear and anger plague the world around us. We see it on the news, running in our streets, and motivating and ruling in government. Society is consumed by these two. And all the while, people are calling out for change. God is so aware of the ramifications of anger that he warns us not to make friendships with angry people because their attitude rubs off on us, and we will be trapped. (Proverbs 22:24)
So, what is the solution for anger? You might be surprised! It is forgiveness. Anger is sourced in an annoyance to self. Something or someone gets in our way. That driver impedes our path. That person disagrees with our opinion. Those rules make it more difficult to reach my goal. Frustration sets in, it kindles (and sometimes too quickly), and we begin to seethe, or we explode.
Anger says, “I am the only one that matters. My needs come first.” It ignores the fact that others live on this planet, and experience the same frustrations with us, as we do with them. Anger holds such a high opinion of itself that no one else’s opinion matters. Anger is self-focused and seeks to remove anything that gets in the way.
To forgive that driver, you have to say you have done the same thing at times, and forgive his mistake.
To forgive that person who disagrees with you, you need to respect their right to have an opposite opinion, and forgive them for being wrong! No! I’m joking!
But to think that my opinion is the only right opinion is faulty. If I like blue and you like green, it is only a personal choice. It is nothing to come to blows over. Why not be the adult in the situation and just agreed to disagree. There is no need to break friendships or marriages over opinions. We are to live in grace instead of law.
To get angry at the speed limit or the red-tape of life is to fight a losing battle. We are best to accept that laws are necessary for our safety, and the red-tape of life has grown from the mistakes of others and sometimes ourselves. “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” So, forgive the humanity of those around you and recognize you are human, too. Humble yourself. It won’t hurt you!
Do you struggle with anger? Have a short fuse? Smolder and Seethe? Let’s look at some practical things you can do, but don’t forget, the most important thing you can do is agree with God—uncontrolled anger is sin.
STOP - When you first feel that twinge of anger, stop and ask where it is coming from. What spurred it? Were you caught off guard? Were you tired or hungry? Were you rushed? Find the source and get things into perspective. You got angry. Why? How does the other person feel? Can you come with a quiet word to diffuse the situation? Are you better to remain silent?
COUNT - Quickly, count what it will cost. If you blow up, will things just get worse? Who will you hurt? Are you willing to deal with the backlash?
DECIDE - Then, decide what outcome you want. Do you really want to lose control? Do you want to say words you will regret? Would you rather be able to move on without an episode?
LOOK - Look for space. God says he will make a way of escape from tempting situations. Where is your out? Could you turn and look away? Could you shut your eyes? Could you count to ten? Could you go for a walk? What could you do that would not heighten the situation, but give you space to get hold of yourself?
MASTER - Learn to master your emotions. To do this, you must slow everything down. It is the pace of anger that creates the most problems. We lash out without thinking of the words, the outcome, or the feelings of others; then we wonder why we face more anger. You want to be a person in control. So, remember, your reaction is your choice—every time! No one can make you act in anger. It is a choice you make.
One of my favorite verses on matters like this is 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (KJV)
To me, paraphrased this says, “I have a choice. I can do what I want, but not everything is beneficial. I can do what I want, but I refuse to let emotions, people, or situations have power over me.” And that includes anger. It wants power to expose my weaknesses and leave me embarrassed, hurt and bound in fear.
“No way,” I say, “I will not give anger control. I choose to forgive. I choose to show grace. I choose to exercise self-control, and allow the water of the Word to quench the fire in my heart.”
How about you?