Dealing With Anger

Introduction

Anger is a challenge that many people struggle to keep under control, that’s one reason why anger management courses are so widely available today. If you were to ask someone you know who has anger issues, they would probably deny it with all their being.

What Is Anger?

Anger is an intense emotion you feel when something has gone wrong, or someone has wronged you. It’s usually characterized by feelings of stress, frustration, and irritation.

Now anger is a perfectly normal response to frustrating or difficult situations. But it becomes a problem when it’s excessively displayed and begins to affect your daily functioning and the way you relate with people. We need to understand that anger isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom of the problem.

Have you ever been driving your car when all of a sudden, the red warning lights appear on your dashboard? When you see them, do you ignore them, or do you stop and recognise something is wrong with your car?

In much the same way, when we begin to feel anger, we need to recognise that something is wrong. We need to stop and ask ourselves, why I am feeling so angry?

Reasons For Anger

The reason Cain was feeling angry was because he was hurt, Genesis 4:5-6. His anger was the result of his offering being rejected by God.

Naaman went to Elisha the prophet for healing, and Elisha told him to go wash in the Jordan River. The reason that Naaman was angry was because he was frustrated. He expected Elisha to heal him there and then, but Elisha told him to do something else, 2 Kings 5:11-12.

When David killed Goliath, the women came out and danced in the streets and the reason that Saul was angry was because of fear, he felt threatened by David, 1 Samuel 18:7-12.

The point is, when we recognise that something is wrong, and we identify what it is that is triggering our anger, we can slowly but surely begin to deal with it.

Now righteous anger is a God-given emotion, so it’s not always sinful to be angry. There is a difference between human anger and righteous anger.

Human Anger

James doesn’t say that anger in and of itself is sinful, he says human anger is sinful because it doesn’t produce the right kind of living that God desires from His people, James 1:19-20. We can’t live the righteous life that God desires if we demonstrate human anger.

Human anger has destroyed people’s lives and relationships. Human anger has resulted in people losing their jobs or damaging their property by punching holes in the walls of their homes.

Human anger has caused high blood pressure and causes people to lose sleep at night. Those are just some of the consequences of human anger.

Righteous Anger

If anger was sinful, then we would have a real problem with the integrity of God. If anger was sinful, then God would be guilty of sin, but here’s the difference. God’s anger isn’t like human anger, His anger is righteous anger, Psalm 7:11.

Moses demonstrated righteous anger because the people rebelled against god by building a golden calf, Exodus 32:19.

Jesus demonstrated righteous anger with the Pharisees who didn’t want him to heal on the Sabbath, Mark 3:5. Jesus demonstrated righteous anger when He cleared the temple and drove out the money changers, Mark 11:15-17.

The difference between human anger and righteous anger is that human anger does more harm than good, while righteous anger does more good than harm.

Anger Management

So how do we deal with the challenge of anger? Let me share with some anger management advice.

1. We deal with anger by reminding ourselves that our God is slow to get angry with us, Psalm 103:8.

If I were God, I would have brought the whole situation to an end in the garden. Most of us would have wiped our hands with each other years ago, but we’re not God and aren’t we glad that you or I are not?

Why is God slow to anger? How do we know that God is slow to get angry? Is there any evidence that proves that God is slow to get angry? I want to suggest to you that you and I are evidence that God is slow to anger.

The very fact that this world is still turning is evidence that God is slow to anger. The very fact that Jesus hasn’t returned yet is powerful evidence that He is slow to get angry, 2 Peter 3:9.

2. We deal with anger by reminding ourselves that anger is a choice.

Someone once said, that ‘anger’ is just one letter short of ‘danger’, and so we need to learn to control it, otherwise anger will control us.

The very fact that God tells Cain that he must rule over it, implies that how we deal with our anger is a choice, Genesis 4:7. Sadly, as we know, Cain allowed anger to control him, hence why he went on to go and murder his brother, Genesis 4:8.

The very fact that James commands us to be slow to become angry, implies that we can control it, James 1:19. If we want to live the righteous life that God wants us to live, we must control our anger. We need to understand that sin desires to have us and we too like Cain must learn to rule over it.

3. We deal with anger by asking God to help us with our anger.

When we pray, we usually just ask God to bless us, but what about asking Him to help us? Paul prayed for the Ephesians, and he prayed that God would strengthen them, Ephesians 3:16-17. Why? Because he wants them to be able to live a life that is worthy of their calling, Ephesians 4:1.

If we understand that our anger can lead us to sin, we need to pray about it and ask God to help us. We need to ask God to strengthen us so that we too can live a life worthy of our calling.

4. We deal with anger by reminding ourselves to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

If God is willing to forgive us when we get angry, then we too should do the same. Matthew 6:12 was never meant to be rehearsed week in and week out, that text was meant to be understood and lived by. God forgives us as we have forgiven others.

If you are angry with someone who has hurt you in the past, it’s time to let it go. It’s time to let it go because God is just going to ask you what He asked Jonah, what right do you have to be angry? Jonah 4:4.

Instead of lashing out at the people who hurt you in the past, try showing them kindness and compassion and forgive them, Ephesians 4:31-32. If we expect God to forgive us, then we must forgive others who have hurt us.

5. We deal with anger by reminding ourselves to deal with our anger quickly.

There’s a reason why we need to deal with our anger quickly. The devil loves it when we are angry because he knows that sin is crouching at our door. He knows that it will wreck marriages and split churches. He knows it will destroy friendships and cause havoc in people’s lives.

Paul says to prevent our anger from leading us to sin, we must deal with it quickly, Ephesians 4:26-27. Jesus says if we are angry without any real just cause, then we will face judgment. If our anger leads us to use condemning words, it could land us in hell, Matthew 5:21-22.

In other words, when our anger leads us to sin, we are just hurting ourselves. If you’re angry with someone, then go to that person and talk to them about it. Tell them how you are feeling and explain to them why you are feeling that way. Explain to them that you hate feeling that way and you want to work things out between the two of you.

Instead of holding on to that anger, remember you’re a child of God and be the peacemaker, Matthew 5:9.

6. We deal with anger by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us.

God is in the transformation business, and one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to replace the works of the flesh with His fruit, Galatians 5:22-23.

How can we love someone whilst at the same time be angry with them? How can we have joy and peace in our hearts when our hearts are filled with anger?

How can we be angry with someone whilst at the same time show them forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness? How can we say we have self-control and yet at the same time just lash out at people in our anger?

When we look at what the Holy Spirit is trying to produce in our lives, it becomes noticeably clear that every one of these attributes would counteract anger in our lives.

Conclusion

God created each of us with a wide range of emotions and anger is one of them. And so, the emotion of anger in and of itself isn’t sinful, but when we feel angry, we can either act in righteousness or act in sin, as a response to our anger.

We can let our anger cause us to do something wrong or we can let our anger cause us to depend on God more and bear His fruit.

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