by Pastor Tim Burt
When I was a young man and newly married, I was at a different emotional level. I was young. I was immature. I was a new Christian just beginning to learn the Bible and seeking God about the changes He wanted me to make in my life. I sincerely wanted to be a great husband but was fully aware that I was making plenty of mistakes and failing miserably. I wore my emotions on my sleeve and would too often feel provoked by my new wife who was also young and immature. There were times I would periodically erupt like a volcano. I am ashamed of those days. I thank God for His transforming word and the ever-present help of the Holy Spirit who helped me completely change and mature. And I am so glad that those years are now so far in the past.
Anger’s a valid and God-given emotion, but one that has a boundary whose line can too easily be crossed. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV) “In your anger do not sin…” This verse is instructional and insightful. God clearly teaches us that anger in itself is not sin, but that it can be carried to the point of sin. If we continue to read, we also find out that when anger does cross its boundary, it can give the devil a foothold. The Greek word for foothold literally means “giving the devil occupancy—a place to dwell.”
For some people, their anger not only crosses the line of inappropriateness into sinning, but they are practically inviting the devil to sit down at their table and sign a long-term lease to live with them. How does that happen?
Anger unrestrained will lead to all kinds of outbursts that cause regret. People that sin in their anger seldom stay on the issue they are angry over. They’re quickly drawn into the archive of past offenses and bring them into their thought-life, heated words and anger. This causes anger to swell like the beginning of a volcano. As anger gets worse, clear thinking has left the room and irrational thinking which provokes more anger, leads to rage! Unbridled anger or rage leads to irrational behavior that can then lead into every kind of evil, including dangerous behaviours. James 3:16 KJV says it like this, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
As words begin to erupt from this anger, they begin to flow like lava and the devil now has a foothold. The words will be destructive and do damage to anyone in its path. In many cases, those words do long term damage that people may or may not recover from. If they do recover, they leave scars in the memory banks that only Jesus can remove through supernatural forgiveness. And at that point, anger takes dominance over clear thinking and the devil has taken up residence—he has a foothold in your life.
Gods wisdom tells us the danger in letting our anger cross the boundaries of inappropriateness. Proverbs 27:4 (NIV) says, “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming…” Prov 14:17 (NIV) says, “A quick-tempered man does foolish things… Jails are filled with people that have become the victim of their own anger.
So what is God’s plan to overcome and manage anger appropriately? You need to take on God’s temperament. Psalms 103:8 (KJV) 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 to help people make progress with great patience.
To keep anger from turning to rage, limit yourself to how much you think about or mull offenses over. Ask yourself: Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? There’s a good chance you are! If so, don’t! Let go of it. When angered, pause your thinking and evaluate it. Speak few words about it as words fuel angers growth. Pray and ask God to help you forgive. Think about why you like or love that person. Seek forgiveness for your own personal faults at the time of your anger toward someone else. Finally, pray for that person from a spirit of love and faith with the sincere desire to help them. If you don’t feel like it, do it anyway by faith because God instructs you to. When you do this, you’ll find that your emotions will follow your faith. The other person may or may not respond right to your efforts but regardless, do what’s right and the situation will keep from getting worse. It will most likely get better. And you’ll get stronger at controlling your emotions and anger. Practice this continually and God will do a work in you and change your character in this area and help you mature. And in the big picture, like me, you’ll be so glad—and be so blessed!
Proverbs 16:32 (NIV) “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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