19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
Is it wrong to be this angry? That really is the question is it not? Anger is not necessarily a negative emotion. It really depends on the “why” and the “how” behind your anger. I would suggest your goal not to be to eliminate anger but to better understand the dynamics behind it so that you can better manage your anger.
So first of all, WHY do we get angry? What leads us to get so upset that our blood boils? See if one or more of these do not relate to your struggle.
- To hurt yourself– you mess up and you cannot stand it. The perfectionist in you raves about the fact that you can’t always get it right. So you direct anger at yourself. You self loathe. You hate feeling like a failure as a spouse, parent, worker, or in general. So you have this self hatred that exists and brews in you.
- To achieve control of the situation– quite often we get upset that a situation or relationship is not going the way we want. We feel like it is out of our control. That can cause us to feel panicky. Some, in moments of panic, run and hide. Others feel cornered and lash out. Anger is our attempt to gain control back in the situation. To manipulate the situation more to our liking. I find this to be a major cause of many people’s anger issues.
- To feel powerful- no one likes to feel small. For some, feeling small brings the demon out in us. We lash out with sarcastic venom or passive aggressive subterfuge or barrages of curse words. We tear them down so they feel much smaller than we just felt. You may not realize in the moment this is what you are doing but if you take time to evaluate your outburst of anger honestly, then you might find that this is the culprit.
- To fight injustice- we might call this righteous indignation. Jesus showed anger towards injustice. When the money changers were using God’s house as a way to make a fortune, Jesus got very angry. So angry he turned their tables over! (See Matthew 21:12). This anger comes from a deep conviction of what is right and wrong. It is our moral center. It is our desire to stand up for what God values. It is outrage towards injustice. This anger is a proper reaction to injustice as long as it is under control, less we act unwisely.
So there are four reasons we get angry. If you are like me you can relate to all four of them. Question now is how do we better manage our anger in a way that honors God and is healthy for us.
HOW to deal with your anger:
- Don’t ignore it or try to suppress it– this never works! Our anger just builds up until it becomes a major explosion. Think about a tea kettle being heated on the stove.The water begins to boil and steam is produced. Steam creates pressure and pressure needs to be released. The kettle releases the pressure through a top spout. The kettle can literally whistle in relief as the pressure is released. When our anger builds, we feel the growing tension of it in our soul. It stays there growing until eventually we let it out to purge ourselves of the tension. The more we let it build the greater the impact of release. It feels good to relieve the pressure, so in our moment of anger it fees right and good to us. Afterwards we see the destruction it left behind. We have to deal with our anger. We have to get behind it to deal with its source: fear.
- Recognize that Fear is the real issue- some of us are terrified of being hurt. We fear being devalued or taken lightly. We fear our voice not being heard. We fear losing control. Fear is the source of much of our anger. In order to properly deal with our anger, we need to tackle our fear. God’s word tells us He did not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Rather we are to have self control. We are to control our fear and not wait and try and control our anger. When it gets to anger it is too late. We need to deal with the fact that our fear is us being minimized. Instead of defending our worth in hopes they buy it, we need to better understand where our true value comes from. This means dealing with our insecurity.
- Don’t let insecurity put you on the attack- Anger is a defense mechanism. We deeply feel our own failings and insecurities and it can overwhelm us, so we lash out defensively so the feelings will stop. Insecurity is like a raw wound in us. You would react violently to anyone trying to jab their finger in your wound. Anger is our attempt to get that person to stop exposing our insecurity. Where does our insecurity come from? There might be many reasons you experience insecurity: past rejection, demanding relationship with your parents, divorce, broken relationships, or your personality tendencies. Regardless of where the insecurity stems from it is in understanding your value in Christ that you realize you don’t need to get so angry in order to defend yourself and your honor.
Anger is not always the wrong response to life but often it indicates a greater issue that exists. Be honest with yourself about why you get angry. Is there one of the above reasons that resonates with you the most? Consider how to deal with the source of that anger. Have courage to face your insecurities and fear head on. Knowledge is power and your being aware is a great step. You can do this with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit behind you.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
I want to make a challenge to you. For the next 30 days what if you intentionally looked for the good in the people and cirmumstances around you? How might that change your perspective on things? When I get critical in my spirit it really effects me negatively in all areas of life. Seeing the positive in people or circumstances does not mean you have to ignore the issues those people or circumstances bring. It just keeps you from seeing everything as completely bad when God wants to show you good that can come from it. For example, let’s say a coworker gossiped about you and you found out. Your tendency would be to think evil thoughts about that person to where you saw nothing good about them. What if you were able to still pinpoint good things about them but also address the issue? “Sally is a hard worker but what she said about me was untrue.” Now that is perspective and if we have right perspective, we are more apt to handle situations like these in a way that honors God. When we handle it in the flesh we go after the “Sally’s” in our life with venomous words and feelings. How does this honor God in any way? I think we tend to react negatively to someone who hurts or offends us because it feels so natural to respond that way. We like what feels natural, but natural means we are in the flesh and that never honors God.
If you are willing to do this challenge, why not make these 30 days a testimony to challenge others? What if you posted on Facebook or sent an email to friends letting them know you are going to focus in on what is good, what is lovely, what is commendable when it comes to your spouse, job, health, social status, material possessions, coworkers, children, etc.. Share throughout your journey how this is changing things in you. I promise that if you approach things positively you will see them in a new light. If you take me up on this challenge you will see change happen in your life. Others will notice it and react in a better way to you as well. Let the challenge begin!
All things work together for the good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:38).
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matt. 7:2-5
I suffer from tendencies. The word tendency means how one generally behaves in a situation is predictable based off of past behavior in similar situations. I have a tendency when it comes to how I interpret God’s Word. This tendency happens when I hear a good sermon or read a good Christian book. I tend to take the things that I have heard or read and think about how they apply to others. How the politicians need to hear this or how liberal preachers need to be reformed by that. I think about people I know well and how they could benefit from this word if they only apply it. And I feel good about this tendency. After all, I am only trying to help others be more Christ-like. You have this same disease.
Show a lot of grace to myself
I am much less critical of myself. I do not scrutinize my own life in the same way I scrutinize the politician or liberal pastor or Christian brother or sister who has faults. I don’t take as serious my own sinfulness as I do the sinfulness of others. I am easily annoyed by their shortcomings and sins but not so much by my own. I get angry at how ignorant people can be but don’t like for people to point out my own ignorance. I am tough on them but easy on myself. Or even if I am tough on myself it just is to feel guilty but I don’t really do a throng to change the issue.
I pride myself in being quick to perceive the splinter in other people’s eye. After all, a splinter of wood in your eye would hurt something awful. So I am being a good brother by helping you remove it from your eye. I even justify it by my gifts. I am discerning and a leader. It is my job to help others be better. All this effort and energy without near as much thought to my own issue… the log in my eye.
What if I put the same energy and time that I spend diagnosing everyone’s else issues into taking an honest look into my own sinfulness? It takes courage to confront my own log. It’s much more comfortable to deal with the splinters of others than to face the truth of one’s own failing and sin.
Are we being hypocritical?
Jesus calls my tendency hypocritical. That stings, but no doubt true when I concern myself so much about other people’s issues and not nearly enough about my own. I feel great conviction from this and have spent time today repenting of my hypocrisy. I want to break this evil tendency. I don’t want to live under such deception any longer.
What might God do in us if we started reading the Word, hungry to see what it says to us? To let the first reflection not be about others but about our own shortcomings, our own sin. Let the Word read you first today. Be slow to call out the splinter in the eyes of others when you are walking around quite clueless of the log that is lodged in your own eye.
Let me say it this way:
Let the word read you today!