by Pastor Tim Burt
I was out running some errands when a woman walked up to me and began chewing me out. She was loud, mean, vile, and like a machine gun with her words. Would she ever stop and take a breath? When she did and I talked with her. It turned out, I wasn’t the person she thought she was talking to. It was a case of mistaken identity!
It’s an angry world out there. More and more people seem to be under the impression it’s okay to be angry and let it fly! The thought of mutual respect, restraint, civil discourse, and showing kindness is being traded for appalling and rude and hurtful behavior.
Anger is a valid emotion but one that has a boundary and whose line can too easily be crossed. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV, “In your anger do not sin…” These verses are instructional and insightful saying “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold…” God clearly teaches us that anger in itself is not sin, but that it can be carried to the point of sin, and when that happens, it can lead to deep bitterness and give “…the devil a foothold.” Those words literally means giving the devil occupancy—a place to dwell. That is what bitterness is—unforgiveness and the rehashing of feeling wronged that has taken root! Don’t let it take root in you!
For many people, their anger not only crosses the line of inappropriateness resulting in sin, but it creates relational erosion in their life. People pull back from angry people. God’s wisdom tells us the danger in letting our anger ever cross the boundaries of inappropriateness.
Proverbs 27:4 NIV says, “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming…”
Proverbs 14:17 NIV says, “A quick-tempered man does foolish things….”
Proverbs 29:22 NIV says, “An angry man stirs up dissension (strife), and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.”
Proverbs 22:24 NIV reveals that anger can affect others, even becoming like an infectious disease. It says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, and do not associate with one easily angered.”
If you are a person who frequently gets angry, you—not those around you are the problem. You are selfish and have made everything in life about yourself and those violating you. Your demand for perfection is born out insecurities and of a need to personally control all of life around you. It is sinful and wrong. (Don’t stop loving me please!) You need to switch your focus from the imperfections of others, to getting your own heart and attitude right. People are not perfect and you have a view of yourself that is far too high. You are too forgiving of your own faults and too critical of others. You need to take on God’s temperament.
Psalms 103:8 reveals, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” God isn’t expecting people to meet His perfection. He had Jesus come and do that. Jesus was the only one who could. God is driven by love and patience to help people make progress over time. He sees the best in us, not the worst. He dwells on what we can become, and not simply what we in at the moment. He dwells on building us up and not tearing us down.
If anger is a problem for you, here are some steps of wisdom that can help break that pattern in your life. When angry—focus ONLY on the issue you are dealing with. Keep any other grievance from the past out! And by all means, discover all the facts and perspectives before coming to any kind of conclusion that would lead to anger. This will slow you down and save you from being embarrassed from jumping to anger.
Ask yourself how big the issue your angry about is in the scope of the big picture of life? Is the fact that Billy left his room a mess today (even if you’ve told him a hundred times before) going to be the first step to the end of the world or to his personal demise? Think solutions, not problems. Just keep patiently working and asking God at every step for His wisdom to get resolve. Ask yourself if you have ever violated what you are angry about? Would you have liked it if your dad or boss screamed at you? Wouldn’t you have liked them to help you work through needed change? Can you be merciful and help instruct them in a calm way how to make changes? Can you be patient while they make those changes? Is there anything you’ve apologized to the Lord to for violating umpteen times? Would you rather be known for being merciful, kind, and helpful, or angry, tough, and ruthless? Which more represents God?
To keep anger from turning to rage, limit yourself to how much you think about or mull it over. Speak as few words about it as possible understanding that words fuel anger like gas on a fire. Pray to ask God to help you forgive and seek forgiveness for your own personal faults at the time of your anger toward someone else. Finally, and most important, pray for that person from a spirit of love and faith with the sincere desire to help them. When your prayers are sincere, it’s like pouring water on a campfire.
Break this into a plan and you will have a plan to reduce rage to anger, and anger to appropriate anger. Let’s turn the trend of our angry world starting with ourself.
Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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