Today it is just impossible to avoid people, they are everywhere. And sometimes they are hard to get along with. If you are in school, your classes are full of them; and if you work, the same is true there. And sometimes as a result of this close contact, we become angry. Some people just rub us the wrong way. There are times when our feelings of anger can become extremely tense. We think we are offended, hurt, or taken advantage of by others. And the more we think about the particular situation. the angrier we get.
We all have to learn to cope with this emotional situation at one time or another. And if it is not properly dealt with, anger can become a damaging force. both to ourselves and to those God has placed around us. Let’s take a closer look at this emotional force and see some of the ways we as Christians should consider and handle it.
Let’s start by thinking of all the examples of anger that are found in the Bible. In fact, anger is about as old as the human race. Cain rose up in anger and killed his brother Abel. In anger Moses smote the rock while Israel was in the wilderness. The elder son angrily refused to go in to the feast his father has prepared for his younger brother. In anger Peter denied that he knew Jesus.
In almost every case anger is a very destructive force, both in us and in those around us. When we become angry, not only is our heart affected, but other organs of our body as well. Anger releases a powerful drug called adrenalin into the bloodstream causing our blood pressure to rise, the heart to beat faster, the eyes to dilate. Our hands become sweaty, our mouth becomes dry, and our muscles become tense. The person was right who said: “Every time we become angry we drive a nail into our own coffin”.
Not only that, consider how those around you feel when you become angry. Perhaps you can’t find your other tennis shoe. You storm around the house looking all over for it. And when you finally find it, get dressed, and leave, you have left the other family members extremely upset, maybe even in tears. Following a poor shot the golfer wraps his club around the nearest tree, embarrassing those he is with, to say nothing of the added expense of a new golf club. Or a glass of milk is accidentally spilled at the supper table and a child gets slapped across the face and is deeply hurt. Or you become angry for whatever reason, and you let loose an explosion of words that rip and tear everything and everybody within earshot. That is how anger works. It is a very serious evil which affects all of us. But it is also an evil which God tells us to put away. Anger is an evil which God lists alongside of malice, blasphemy, adultery, idolatry, murder, and drunkenness. Gal. 5:20.
Anger is a sign of emotional immaturity. He that is slow to anger is Anger is a sign of emotional immaturity. We all can mature physically without much effort on our part, providing that we have a somewhat normal diet. This is not true spiritually or emotionally. We mature here only through growth in understanding, learning and in the development of proper attitudes. The trouble with those of us who are constantly flying off the handle is that we have never matured emotionally. Self-control and maturity take work, they don’t come easy.
Anger is also a method that we use to dominate people. Children seem to learn this early in life. They throw temper tantrums to get their way. Adults who never grow up tend to do the same.
Anger is also a means of warfare. We use anger as a means of hurting people, of getting revenge. Pouting, for example, is one of anger’s milder forms. It is used deliberately to make the other person wish he hadn’t crossed us up. We use it as a means of punishing the offender.
Any one of us who intends to respect the rights and feelings of others and deal with them fairly does not need to resort to anger. Anything which can be accomplished by anger, if it’s right, can be accomplished better by other means.
Maturity is the mark of a person who has his emotions firmly in hand. Immaturity is the mark of the person who becomes angry much too quickly. This is seen in the following passages of Scripture.
“A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger. . . .
“A wrathful man stirreth up strife, but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. . . He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Proverbs 15:1, 18 and 16:32.
Maturity, maturity, spiritual and emotional maturity is the overtone of the passages.
How can we overcome and handle this problem? For we have all sinned many times in this regard. First and most importantly we must confess it to God and be ready to give it up totally. Any time we feel anger beginning to build, we should stop and pray asking God to give us the victory.
To the degree that we grow in maturity, to that degree we will experience victory over our anger and be able to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who despitefully use and persecute us.
We should never store up anger. We must learn to deal with the problems and irritations that we face on a daily basis. As Paul the apostle warns us: “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath”; this prevents anger from building up on the inside.
We should also make every problem that we face a matter of prayer. We Christians confess that everything works together for our good. And God permits frustrating events to touch our lives to teach us patience and to help us grow. We should not miss those opportunities.
And it may also help to remember one more thing. No matter what we may think, no person has ever sinned against us more than we daily sin against God. And if He should mark our sins, who could stand? Yet God has forgiven us. Shouldn’t we do the same?