Gentlemen, today I have to come before you and come clean … confess if you will! I don’t think I have directly offended any of you, except maybe Kurtz, because he is the only one I know! Anyway, I had a day this week that really threw me for a loop. I don’t believe in putting my personal stuff out on the street so I won’t give any specific details, but we had an event that led to one of the worst days I have had in a while.
I got angry and I was a FOOL!!!
I don’t mean I got a little ticked … or kind of P.O.’d … or even really miffed!!! I was furious which led to only about 4 hours of sleep which led to not getting up to work out which led to more FURY!!! I literally got to the point during my commute to work that I was screaming and cursing anyone or anything that remotely interfered with my drive! I distinctly remember during one episode of screaming at someone thinking … “What in the heck is going on?” … and realizing that I had somehow crossed some kind of invisible line that wasn’t remotely Christian and bordering on not human!!! I knew that I was the pure definition of the first part of Ephesians 4:26 which says, “In your anger do not sin!” If what I was thinking and saying wasn’t sin … I don’t know what is!!! Proverbs 29:11 described me to a “T” unfortunately. It says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control!” I was at full FOOL and nowhere near wise!
I have a background and education in the mental health field (Marriage and Family Therapist) so I was really intrigued by this and even in the middle of all of that crisis, I wondered to myself how I had gotten to that point. Anger, I know, is a “secondary emotion”. As the graphic below indicates, anger is simply the visible tip of the iceberg. I realized that when the event took place that precipitated this emotion in me I was originally very scared, worried and hurt.
Once I was able to get to some semblance of sanity, I wanted to see what scripture says about anger. I grabbed a book I have had for a long time, “The Billy Graham Christian Workers Handbook: A Layman’s Guide For Soul Winning and Personal Counseling.” Billy Graham writes, “The Bible does not forbid displeasure, but it sets up two controls. The first is to keep anger clear of bitterness, spite or hatred. The second is to check daily on whether we have handled malevolent feelings. There is an old Latin proverb, ‘He who goes angry to bed has the devil for a bedfellow.’ Of course, there are many irritations in life. They become prime opportunities for Satan to lead us into evil passion.” Not all anger wrong and the Bible gives us many scriptures that demonstrate that:
Exodus 32:19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.
Mark 3:5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
Also in Mark 11:15 and 17 when the Lord drove the profiteers out of God’s House!
So, what do we do when we have crossed that line from righteous anger to excessive or uncontrolled anger? Return to the Word and realize:
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV).
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11, NIV).
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24, NIV).
“Put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language” (Colossians 3:8).
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19–20).
One of the strategies in this book that I really liked and thought helpful was to realize that the Christian must learn to cope with two natures, each striving for supremacy. We must learn to practice the “put off—put on” principle of Ephesians 4:22–24 (NIV):
- “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful
desires” (verse 22).
- “Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and
holiness” (verse 24).
- The effect of practicing the “put off—put on” principle is to “be
made new in the attitude of your minds” (verse 23; see 2 Corinthians
Father, thank you for giving us emotions, the ability to control them and the forgiveness when we don’t!