For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.James 1:20
Do you ever feel helpless that you can have self-control with your anger?
The Bible says anger doesn’t bring about a righteous life; I’ve found that instead it often brings pain and hurt. Have you ever said hurtful things to your family and friends in anger, and then regretted it after your anger subsides?
In the Bible David grew up with a brother who said hurtful things to him in anger:
When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”1 Samuel 17:28
One of the big problems with anger is that if left unchecked it can lead us to hurt people around us. Eliab said critical and cutting things in his anger. What do you do when you get angry? How do you affect people around you?
I grew up in home where anger was expressed in many unhealthy ways. I felt crushed by the anger of others but learned to defend myself in the same way. The only results of all this anger were lasting scars, distance and distrust. Like the the scripture in James says, anger never brings about the life God wants nor the closeness in relationships we want. In fact, it distances you from those goals. So what can we do when we’re angry – before we hurt the ones we love? Here are 4 decisions we can make when we’re angry that we won’t end up regretting.
Diffuse with truth
Think of who you become when you’re angry. Have you ever thought of yourself as a cruel, fierce lion? Probably not, because when we’re angry we usually find ways to defend why we feel the way we do. Here are 3 scriptures that can help us see what happens to us when we’re angry:
Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?Proverbs 27:4
A king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion; he who angers him forfeits his life.Proverbs 20:2
Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.Isaiah 7:4
Ask yourself is this who I want to be? Is this how I really want to communicate my concern, feelings, or my viewpoint? I have seen my anger incite others to be rash, anxious, fearful, and lose heart. When we face the truth of what anger does to us it gives a moment think about how we are coming across and if is this how we want to express ourselves.
How does your anger make your kids, your spouse, or your friends feel? Is that how you really want to treat them? How do you think being aware of this would help diffuse your anger?
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.Proverbs 29:11
Choosing to not indulge in anger is a decision. I find it tempting to give full vent to my anger when I think, “I am standing up for what is right, I don’t have to take this” or “if I just get it all out I will feel better.” This may not be best or wise. There is a healthy and mature way to communicate when we are discontent with how something is going or how we are being hurt or negatively affected by something or someone. Under the guise of being open we can often be insensitive to others. We become blinded by our emotions and don’t think about being on the receiving end of our complaints.
God’s Word teaches us to be wise, to have self-control and to find the balance of openness and without giving way to our anger. This requires us to not let our emotions control us. Psalms 37:8 says,
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.Psalms 37:8
“Refrain” and “turn” are decisive words to teach us how to deny ourselves when we are angry. How hard do you try to refrain and turn from anger? Or do you just let it go? Choosing to deny ourselves could save us from deep regret.
In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.Psalm 4:4
Anger prompts a strong impulse to say or do something. When we react in anger we can often worsen a situation, have poor judgement or choose the wrong course of action. Consider stepping away and taking a short time out just to get perspective. Use this moment to search your heart and reflect understand why you’re angry and think about how God wants you to move forward.
However, it may tempting once the emotions wear off to leave situations unresolved. Don’t wait too long. Ephesians 4:26 warns us by saying
… do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.Ephesians 4:26
Our relationship with God and others will be affected when anger is left dormant. Do you have any situations you’re still angry about? What do you need to do to resolve that anger?
Depend on love
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)
God wants us to make being close a priority. So whether someone hurts us or makes what we feel is a mistake depending on love can curb our hearts from getting angry. Think about what is the most important? Is it the relationship or someone knowing the full extent of unhappy I am with them? 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) is a good description of what love actually looks like:
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
Love gives us a way out of hurting the ones we love; it enables us to move on and forgive.
Imagine having the ability to communicate what you feel without causing others to withdraw or react. How would diffusing with truth, denying yourself, delaying your response or depending on love change your ability to control your anger? How different would your relationships look if you changed in one of these areas? Do a Bible study on anger to gain deeper conviction and insight. Then study out being loving to inspire your heart to change. Memorize the scriptures that help give you pause so you don’t act on emotion. Make one of these decisions today will change your relationships.