Have you ever noticed how angry people are today? It seems everyone is at the boiling point and ready to spue out angry words, gestures, and actions. So how can we deal with this thing called anger?
First, consider some instruction from the Bible:
Ephesians 4:31 (ESV) — 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Matthew 5:21–22 (ESV) — 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Psalm 37:8 (ESV) — 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
Proverbs 15:1 (ESV) — 1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:18 (ESV) — 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Proverbs 16:32 (ESV) — 32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
You get the feeling from the instruction above that we all need to learn to get a handle on our anger. So, first consider why we get angry, what is stirred within us, and what we can do.
We get angry from a sense of disappointment. Perhaps it’s disappointment with our circumstances, with ourselves, or with others. When things do not turn out as we think they should we tend to get angry. Sometimes we are stirred to “righteous indignation” or “righteous anger” that is stirred by the disappointment seen in the way people mistreat God and His word. This “righteous anger” seems to be justified, only if it moves us to do forward to do what is right not to take things in our own hands and beat up people. Hence when we are stirred we need to get control by being reminded of God’s word:
Ephesians 4:26–27 (ESV) — 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.
This brings us back to the key of dealing with our disappointment which is the driving force in causing us to get angry. It’s basically because we have a sense of “peace” in our minds as we see how things should be if all is right. When that sense is disturbed by circumstances or people, including ourselves, that disappointment flips the switch and what we do after that is the outcome of anger. The scripture above gives us an out and a motivation. Be Angry is a word to recognize the fact that life is not perfect while on this earth so there will be times of disappointment. The point then is to know that and be determined to “sin not” because in letting your anger out is giving an opportunity for the evil one to drive you further down the road into bitterness and that causes you to miss out on God’s best for you.
Hebrews 12:15 (ESV) — 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
So how do we put the breaks on when we are disappointed, so we don’t sin from anger? That is the cooperative work of our will, with the work of the word of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Here’s an important point: Do not be caught off guard, have a plan of action in place when you face disappointment. The plan of action should include a calling out to God for the help of the Holy Spirit. The plan should also include instruction and guidance from the word of God. (See above) and the plan should also include a prescription that you have thought out ahead of time of how you think you should respond instead of letting the moment dictate your actions.
Having a plan in place will help you tap into the power of God’s word and the work of the Holy Spirit in keeping the moments of disappointment from going to deep seeded anger that could drive you to do or say things you later regret and to keep you from venturing down the road to bitterness.
The best way to deal with anger is recognize it’s always going to be a challenge for us because we constantly face disappointments which is because we at this point do not live in paradise. For the believer, paradise is sure but it’s in the future. Consequently, we’ll be disappointed in life and those disappointments without a thoughtful plan can lead to anger which can lead quickly to sin.