Anger

I struggle with anger.

Not just the kind where I cussed my Father, my dad, and pastors for every four letter word in the book.  But the kind that took those offenses and defended them militantly.

I think I am starting to understand that part from Ephesians 4:26ish that says, “Be angry but do not sin, and do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”  Or as the other translations say “In your anger do not sin.”  I would like to think Paul was saying “do not sin by the way of/the avenue/the means of anger.”  That is, sin done through anger has a murderous dimension that makes it especially vile, and brings the sinner to a place of blindness and enablement to do things he would otherwise not do in his right mind.

I have been there.  IN the place where I was empowered to to the wrong thing.  It’s a pitiful place to be.  It’s nothing but a dead end, or as Paul comments in another place, as fruitful as “boxing the air.” 

Reminds me of “Madea Goes to Jail” and a comment Madea makes during one of the prison meetings.  In that scene we hear that forgiveness is not for the other person.  It’s for you.  It’s for the one who has been offended, so that they can be liberated.  Madea, in this scene says to one of the embittered inmates.  “Your dad is somewhere living his life, and you’re on lockdown.”  That line just struck me between the eyes when I first heard it and it has stayed with me ever since.

I say that to say this.  Anger is the key to liberty or jail.  Anger and offense, that is, are the keys to getting in and out of jail.  In other words, if you let go of your anger and forgive the other person, then you will experience true freedom, and on the converse, if you choose to take up anger (which is always a choice for us, and yes, we can help the way we feel, bonafide chemical imbalances notwithstanding) then you will go into a place of solitude, where everyone you know will desert you.  The only way we can let this go is to give it to the Lord.  Not something else or someone else.  The Lord is the only one who has enough resources and patience to handle the fullness of our anger.

Allow me to illustrate

John and Sarah are some friends of ours from Florida.  One day John called me up to tell me that Sarah had just introduced him to Chuck and Laura, two of her old friends from youth group.  During the conversation, Chuck mentioned that he stayed at home and cleaned.  Sarah related that Chuck should teach John how to clean properly.  This made John angry, because it cast him in a lazy light in front of people he had never met.  Later, Sarah came up to John and apologized to her for saying what she said.  So John asked me what I thought.  I told him it might be best to let patience take the lead on this so that he did not say something out of anger he might regret.  I also suggested that Sarah might apologize to Chuck and Laura for saying hurtful things about him to people he does not know, since that might give them a negative first impression.

I use this illustration to make the following points about handling anger.  If your spouse/friend/parent “throws you under the bus,” you will still need to do the following

1. Forgive them. The Father has forgiven us our sins so we in turn must forgive others.  Not only does the security of our salvation depend on it, but our ability to hear from God with a soft heart hinges on our willingness to forgive others, as well as the personal freedom we experience.

2. Practice patience.  Patience is one of the major facets of love, and it is an antivenom for the poison of anger.  While anger shortens our fuse, patience lengthens our fuse, stops us, forces us to take a breath, and causes us to think over the situation before we speak.  The Proverbs prolifically espouse the benefits to the patient man of being slow to speak.  Patience is the best solution when the emotions of our prideful hearts have charged the atmosphere.

3.  Speaking of emotions, consider the following verses, since emotions flow from the heart (Proverbs label these the issues of life-Proverbs 4:23).  Place a guard over your heart according to Proverbs 4:23, and remember the verse out of Jeremiah 17:9.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  If our hearts, being the seat of our emotions, are deceitful, and thus capable of deceiving us, then it is up to us to lead our hearts according to the Scriptures, and not letting our emotions and hearts lead us, mistaking those emotions for the voice of the Holy Spirit. 

Do not let your heart govern you, not for one second, because it will lead you down an undiscerned path.

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One response to this post.

  1. Great post, David, really great post. I've struggled with anger – not being angry – which has actually been worse than being angry and sinning not.

    Reply

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