Anger … it’s a common, almost universal struggle.
We get angry because we want to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for us! We want to control what goes on around us.
When we should be saying, “Lord, how do you want to use this in my life,” and trusting Him, we often allow our “feelings” to take over.
In the two previous posts, we’ve said emotions like anger, sorrow, guilt, depression, etc. are not sinful in and of themselves. It’s what we do with them that makes them sinful or not. And even righteous anger can quickly become sinful by our failure to deal with it biblically.
Anger is not just an emotion. It’s an issue of the heart (Matt. 15.18-20). And when we are angry our tendency, instead of taking responsibility for it, is to make excuses, minimize it, or blame other people or our circumstances.
We’ve touched on them in previous posts, but today, we’re going to talk about the two primary forms of anger and steps to overcoming it.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Handling Anger Biblically – Part 3
We have just wrapped up a series on God’s design for marriage. If you missed it, you can access the lessons here. We’re in a new series “Handling Emotions Biblically.” Today’s post is the third of three on anger.
Over the next couple of months, we’ll also talk about:
Fear & Worry
Trials & Suffering
I hope you’ll be here each week (post goes live at 5 PM MST on Sundays).
Two Forms of Anger
While there may be variations in the ways we express it, there are two primary forms of sinful anger. The first is “blowing up.”
“I hate you!”
“I wish I had never met you!”
“I don’t care what you do!”
A parent who says, “I wish you had never been born.”
Sometimes blowing up involves intimidation.
“You’re going to pay for this!”
“You’ll wish you had never met me!”
We may lose control physically by:
Pushing and Shoving.
Hitting and Punching.
Getting in someone’s Face.
“I’ll just keep it to myself.”
“I’m not going to risk being hurt again.”
Clamming up frequently means giving others the silent treatment. And when the other person asks what’s wrong we say, “Nothing!”
We get focused on ourselves, how we’re suffering, how life is unfair. We play the martyr.
Or we decide we’ll just “get over it.” But it’s like throwing junk in a gunny sack. Eventually, the sack gets too full to carry and the person blows up!
Most of us vacillate between the two.
So, if we know we’re dealing with anger issues of either kind, how do we change?
Steps to Handling Sinful Anger
- Recognize it, admit it and confess it.
Quit making excuses.
Say, “I was wrong.”
He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy (Prov. 28.13).
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1.9).
- See God in the trial.
Study Joseph’s story and his response to the brothers who had betrayed him and sold him into slavery.
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive (Gen. 50:20).
Maybe someone has hurt you. Maybe he or she did it maliciously, but if God has allowed it (and He has), He can and will use it for good in your life, too.
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:28-29).
Where is God in the trial?
What is He up to?
How might He be using it to develop the fruit of the Spirit in your life (Gal. 5.22-23)?
How is He using it to conform you to the image of Christ (Rom. 8.28-29)?
- Make room for God’s wrath.
Joseph told his brothers, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God (Gen. 50:19)?”
Angry people want to take God’s place. We want to make sure the other person doesn’t get away with something! We want to take our own revenge.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Rom. 12: 17-19).
Move over and make room for the wrath of God because:
We don’t have the authority to take our own vengeance (Rom. 12:19).
We don’t have the ability to know what’s right in the area of justice. God is the only Heart-Knower (Jer. 17.9)! Yet, sinfully angry people go right for the heart, as if they know what’s going on in someone else’s heart, judging motives.
I know what he’s thinking!
He just wants to …!
Angry people try to play God!
- Return good for what you believe is evil.
“Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Gen. 50:21).
Joseph could have killed them. He could have been angry, but he returned evil with good. He demonstrated grace.
Angry people don’t have much grace!
- Communicate to solve problems.
Study the “4 Rules of Communication.”
Learn and practice what Peacemaker Ministries calls “The PAUSE Principle of Negotiating.”
Search for Creative Solutions.
Evaluate Options Objectively and Reasonably.
Prepare by knowing the facts before you try to discuss an issue. Don’t assume you know where the other person is coming from or what they meant by something said.
Prepare your heart with prayer and the study of God’s Word on the subject.
Affirm relationships. Remember how God views the other person. See them with God’s eyes. Affirm your relationship with them. See it as valuable, more valuable than venting your feelings at the moment.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil. 2.3-4).
If families and couples lived by this passage alone there would be fewer battles, fewer hurts, and fewer divorces.
Search for God’s solutions in His Word and by praying for His wisdom.
Evaluate options with the other person’s best interests in mind and a biblical grid.
God is a communicator. He always has been. He communicated with Adam and Eve in the garden. He communicated through angels, judges, and prophets. He communicated through His Son and now He communicates through His Word.
Sin messed up our ability to communicate. So, instead, we get out the fig leaves. We run and hide in the bushes. We make excuses. And we blameshift. But we can regain good biblical communication with His help.
- Act to solve your part of the problem.
¹ “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matt. 7:1-5).
Own it. Take responsibility for it without blameshifting, excusing or minimizing. Humble yourself and seek forgiveness from God and anyone else involved.
We need to purpose in our hearts to do what is pleasing to God (2 Cor. 5:9). We should ask ourselves what will bring Him glory?
We can start by identifying any sinful patterns in our lives for handling anger and put-off sinful thinking and behavior.
We need to replace them with biblical thinking:
Where is God?
What is He doing?
How can I respond in a way that’s pleasing to Him?
How can I overcome evil with good?
And biblical actions:
Returning good for evil.
Being loving and gracious rather than sinfully angry.
Trusting God, rather than, playing God.
Next week “Handling Depression Biblically.”
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