Friday, April 23, 2010

What To Do With Anger

Anger management is such a hot topic in our society today. We seem to treat it as a disease that has to be treated. We recognize that we all have anger, but assume it can be controlled and are surprised when it is not. Anger festers and causes destruction in the individual as well as those to whom it is directed. Anger tears apart families, communities and churches. Still, we continue to justify it, saying it is better to be angry than to be weak or impotent.

Christians are usually no better off than society in general when dealing with anger. Unbridled anger creeps into congregations disguised as “righteous indignation” and divides the Body of Christ weakening our ability to take the Gospel to a lost and dying world. The only solution is to submit this emotion to God allowing Him to deal with the supposed injustices done to us, thus freeing us to see as He sees.

Ephesians 4:26-27 says “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Here it is recognized that we will have anger but we are not to allow that anger give rise to sin. From verse 26 many get the idea that we are to have righteous anger. However, we must to consider that the word translated anger here is referring to the emotional force that enables us to deal with wrongful situations. It is clear from subsequent verses that while we have anger, we are not to act in anger.

Consider Ephesians 6:29-32: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” Anger that is truly righteous and not self-righteous will not to lead to unkind words and will not grieve the Holy Spirit by thoughts or actions. It will not lead to division and unkind deeds, nor will it lead to bitterness. We can be angry at a situation and that anger can be the motivating factor for us to do something about that situation, but we are to put the anger away before we act.

At this point the “what if’s” arguments are usually presented. Scenarios are described presenting situations in which wrongs are done, with the implication that we are only right in getting angry (Face it, we all can justify our anger). Here we must remember that the anger is meant to be a motivating force directed towards the sin not the sinner. This is truly how God deals with us. While He hates and is angry with sin, He loves the sinner so much He sent His Son to die for us. However, it is difficult for us to act on this level separating the sin from the sinner. We need to consider whether our actions are consistent with God’s directives or our own. The key is to consider if God is being glorified if we continue on in a particular course of anger.

When we consider these principles we can begin to deal with anger. We need to give it over to God, not allowing it to become an excuse for sin. Holding on to anger is contrary to Scripture for that will only allow it to fester and congeal. We need to present each situation to the Lord, willing to have Him to do His will in us only then can we act as he does—in love.