Anger is an emotion, an involuntary reaction to a displeasing situation or event. Though anger may be a normal reaction, we often respond improperly to anger – when we lose our temper or store it up so that it makes us bitter. Then it becomes dangerous. I have had to deal with the results of anger as I counsel families and I have had to deal with my own uncontrolled anger.
I hope you realize that not all anger is wrong. When the Bible mentions of anger, it does so in a variety of settings. Moses was angry when he saw the unfaithfulness and idolatry of his people (Exodus 32:19). Even Jesus was angry after he healed a man’s withered hand because of the stubborn hearts of the religious leaders (Mark 11:15-17).
Since anger can be expressed in a correct way, it is important for the Christian to learn to control anger. “Be ye angry and sin not.” (Ephesians 4:26). It is important to make sure our anger keeps us away from two areas. First, we need to stay clear of using our anger in such a way that causes harm, emotionally or physically, to another. Bursts of anger can cause serious damage to another. Second, we need to not allow our inner anger to cause bitterness or hatred inside us toward another person. This is very subtle, but very dangerous. It is the ‘quiet killer.’
How can you tell if your anger is out of control? Ask yourself these questions: Do I have outbursts of temper or use bad language? Do I maintain bitterness, resentment, or hostility toward someone or something? Do I feel like ‘getting even’? Do I have the inner feeling that my angry attitude is displeasing to God? Do my actions or words negatively affect my testimony as others observe my bad responses? Are they victims of those responses?
If you realize you have a problem with anger or know someone who does, what can be done. I have discovered a few helps that may help:
1. Try not to interpret everything as a personal offense, oversight, hurt against you.
Don’t become too sensitive to the words of others. But do attempt to pinpoint the things that cause you to become excessively angry. You may need to deal with these causes or at least avoid them.
This is what I did as a teenager. I had serious anger problems. I really don’t know what ’caused’ them, but I knew I didn’t like the ‘out-of-control’ feeling that my anger drove me to. Actually, it scared me – and so did my dad. I knew I needed to change but knew I couldn’t on my own. That’s when I turned to God and begged Him to help me control my anger. And He did. Make your attitudes and responses a matter for serious prayer. Also take the irritating behavior of others to the Lord. God uses people and circumstances to refine our character. It may be that God has brought an irritating person or circumstance to file down our rough edges.
3. Confess excessive anger as sin.
I know many people who try to make excuses. They say, “That’s the way I was brought up” or “But I wouldn’t have been so angry if she hadn’t said what she said.” Each of us needs to take ownership of our own weaknesses and sins in this area. And do it immediately. While you are still ‘hot mad’ it is important to seek forgiveness from God and others. “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” is great, practical counsel to the importance of dealing with anger quickly (Ephesians 4:26).
4. Refocus your anger away from yourself and others to the problem that cause it.
Isn’t it amazing how when we have problems with others, we become more consumed with expressing anger at the person, instead of trying to solve the problem. Try to figure out what caused the problem and how you can solve the problem instead of trying to change or ‘put down’ the other person.
5. Let the Bible permeate your life.
Read it! Study it! Memorize it! When confronted with temptation (Matthew 4), Jesus used the Bible as His only defense. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16).
A personal relationships to Jesus Christ is basic to solving any spiritual problem. If you do not have that personal relationship, please repent and turn from your sin, and turn to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Below are some great verses to memorize:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8)