by Pastor Tim Burt
This devotion is slightly longer than normal. But it’s worth it! Be patient and let it help you! Thanks, Pastor Tim
I drove my car through a car wash the other day, and upon finishing, drove into one of the stalls that have vacuums so you can vacuum your car. The car wash was very busy with cars and people everywhere. As I got out of my car, I opened my trunk to get some towels to dry off my car. As I looked up, I noticed there was a woman nearby staring at me. That happens frequently to me because so many people know me from Pastoring in our city for 33 years. I smiled back and said Hi when she immediately started swearing and me with such anger that I was shocked. She then called me a white supremacist and kept the slurs coming. I tried for a minute to question her as to why she was angry so I could apologize if I done something wrong. I thought she might be mistaking me for someone else. But, I couldn’t get in a word as she did not let up. I kept my mouth shut and went about my business vacuuming out my car while those around listened to her continue. Why was she mad? What did I do wrong to anger her? Was it me she was angry at or did she mistake me for someone else? I guess I’ll never know.
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 abandoned for appalling and rude and hurtful behavior.
There were times as a young adult when I had a short fuse. I would occasionally erupt like a volcano. The combination of not knowing Christ, and my youth and immaturity contributed to this kind of rude behavior. I am ashamed of those days. I have not let that happen in my life since coming to Christ 45 years ago.
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 gives “…the devil a foothold.” Those words literally means giving the devil occupancy—a place to dwell.
For some people, their anger not only crosses the line of inappropriateness resulting in sin, but they practically invite 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 hurtful outbursts that will cause pain and regret. People that sin in their anger seldom stay on the issue they are angry over. They often draw on past offenses and hurts and bring them to the scene. Their angry words causes anger to swell. That can become the early stage of rage which always leads to irrational thinking. Eruption is now brewing below the surface. Unbridled anger or rage leads to irrational thoughts and words that are almost always regretted. 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 is difficult for people to recover from. They lead to great and deeply rooted bitterness.
God’s 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…”
Proverbs 14:17 NIV says, “A quick-tempered man does foolish things….”
Proverbs 21:19 KJV “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”
Proverbs 29:22 NIV “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.”
Proverbs 25:23 NKJV says, “As the north wind brings rain: so does an angry countenance bring a backbiting tongue.” The word angry here literally means foam at the mouth and is referring to the evil look of unbridled anger. The term “backbiting tongue” refers to the abundance of evil words spoken that absolutely cover their target with a blanket of ill spoken and hurtful words.
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 of insecurities and of a need to personally control all of life around you. It is sinful and wrong. 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, to help people make progress with great patience. He sees the best in us, not the worst. He dwells on what we can become, and not simply what we are 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 in you.
When angry—stick with the issue you are dealing with. Keep grievances from the past out! And by all means, get all the facts and perspectives before coming to any kind of conclusion that would lead to anger. This will save you from being embarrassed over and over again. Ask yourself how big of an issue is this 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 solution, not problem. Just keep patiently working with him and think of motivators to help him. Ask yourself if you have ever violated what you are angry about or something similar? 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 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 few words about it as words fuel anger like gas on a fire. Pray asking 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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