Been angry lately? I get angry often. I’ve learned that it’s not wrong to get angry. God gets angry. Over 300 times in the Old Testament it says God got angry. Jesus got angry. Some commentators call it “righteous indignation.” Come on, He got ticked off, He was angry. To be angry is to have a pulse. It shows you care about yourself, something or somebody. Some things you ought to get angry about.
When it comes to dealing with anger you probably are one of three types. Some of you know I that like reptiles so I will use them as our examples:
- Some of you are Alligators. You stand your ground, showing your teeth. With an alligator, you know exactly where they stand. They let you know.
- Some of you are Tortoises. When conflict comes you pull back into your shell. Turn in to yourself. You withdraw. You become distant.
- Some of you are Snakes. You lie in wait with venom stored up for the right time to bite. Snakes are the passive aggressive types and you may not see it coming. They’re slippery and hard to pin down because they don’t like to admit that what they’re doing is being angry.
Which are you? I naturally am a tortoise, but with God’s help I am learning to come out of my shell! It’s not how you get angry it’s what you do with your anger that makes it a problem. Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin” Anger comes and goes. What we do with it, that’s our choice.
To avoid an Anger MESS I suggest,
M – Make Sense of My Anger. It helps me to understand the root. At its core anger is one of three primary emotions: hurt, fear or frustration. If you are angry about in the slow checkout line at HEB, that is frustration. If someone breaks up with you, that is hurt. If you lose your job, you may experience all three! For instance if I find myself angry about traffic and I am running late, I am frustrated. Then I can be frustrated at myself for not leaving early enough. If I am angry about something someone said, it’s healthiest for me not to ignore it but to admit that it hurt. I find the words of Proverbs 14: 29 so true.
E – Express Anger Appropriately. Have you ever lost your temper and did something you regret? We all have story like Proverbs 14:17 “A quick-tempered man does foolish things.” I knew a guy in college who punched a wall and broke his hand. Someone else I knew who kicked a wall and broke his foot. Is it wrong to punch things? Not necessarily, but get a punching bag so don’t hurt yourself or someone else. We say things like, “I just can’t control my anger” but in the middle of an angry argument with our spouse the phone will ring, “Hello, it’s for you dear.” What happened? We controlled our anger because we chose too. We can learn to think before speaking, we can learn to cool off before acting. The next step will helps us do this.
S – Seek God’s Wisdom. James 1:5 We can ask God to guide us in how to act even when angry. We may need to confess if we were wrong -James 5:16. Many times we should act upon our anger but with God’s direction. At times we should confront and the bible tells us how and when. Matthew 18:15–17. For alligators, confrontation can happen without someone losing a limb! God can give you grace and love. For turtles, confrontation is traumatizing but God can provide strength.
S – Seek to Understand Others. This step doesn’t come naturally which is why I listed it last. Let’s take driving. It brings out the anger in me quickly. Like Chuck Swindoll said, “the right foot may be the last part of the body to get saved.” Well at least for me! My son could relate to the little boy whose mom asked him, how did the ride to the store go? “Great we saw 4 idiots, 2 maniacs and 3 knot heads!” I am slowly learning that: “Drivers are idiots. I am a driver. Therefore I am an idiot.” I have to remind myself that am not the only one in a hurry. When I’m in a hurry I can bet than someone in front of me won’t be. And when I am NOT in a hurry there will be someone behind me that is. Seek to understand others. Philippians 2:4 says it best.
Messed up too, but depending on Christ, Darrell
For more about the series,’ The Mess Inside” see, www.ridgefellowship.com