October 23, 2009
Learning to Harness our Anger
Proverbs 19:11 "People with good sense restrain their anger."
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I once heard it said that small pots boil over quickly and so do small people. Ouch! I don't want to be a small person known for her quick temper. The life of Nehemiah gives us a wonderful example of how to control and deal with anger. Nehemiah had come back to Jerusalem from a high position in the court. He had come to supervise the rebuilding of the Jerusalem walls. A delegation of Hebrews had come with him hoping to make a profit. They took advantage of the poor by enslaving widows and children, by taking the property of people who were sick and unable to defend themselves. Nehemiah was furious but he models for us the right way to deal with anger.
Nehemiah 5:6-7 "When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. So I called together a large meeting to deal with them."
In this passage, we find four ways to deal with anger.
- Admit your anger
We must be honest about our anger, which can be a problem if we don't like to admit we are angry. We have convinced ourselves that if we deny our anger, we don't have to deal with it. Consequently, we disguise anger by wrapping it in sarcasm, gossip, criticism, complaining, silence or aggression. It simmers on a back burner until one day, it explodes all over our lives and we wonder where in the world that came from. To deal with our anger, we must be willing to say the words, "I am very angry!" That's emotional integrity. 1 Chronicles 29:17 describes God's pleasure with our transparency, "I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there." We must be real in order to be right. When you are angry, be honest enough to admit it.
- Postpone your anger
Proverbs 29:11 "A stupid man gives free rein to his anger; a wise man waits and lets it grow cool."
To "cool it" is a spiritual exercise. When my daughter was about six-years-old, she and I were engaged in a battle of wills. I wanted her to go to sleep but she had other plans for the evening, none of which included sleep. When she figured out that I was not going to give in, Danna stomped to her room in a fit of fury. In a few minutes, I went in to make peace. I opened the door to see her sitting on the bed, arms crossed, teeth clinched and eyes flashing! "Danna, let's talk about this", I said. To which she responded, "Mama, I can't talk right now. My mad is too big!"
When Jesus saw the money changers in His Father's temple, He was furious. He stopped - stepped over to the side and began braiding a whip. Now, it was not because He had taken "Whip Braiding 101"! Jesus was "cooling it" because His mad was too big!
Then with harnessed anger, Jesus drove the money changes out. In other words, the longer you hold your temper, the more it improves.
- Dismiss your anger
James 1:19-21 "Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants. So put out of your life every evil thing and every kind of wrong."
When anger strikes, we need to stop and ask ourselves some important questions:
· Why am I really angry?
· Is it important?
· Will it matter in a year?
· What action do I need to take?
And sometimes, we should simply dismiss our anger.
Proverbs 19:11 "A wise person is patient. He will be honored if he ignores a wrong done against him."
Maturity is the ability to overlook a hurt, to dismiss anger. When Jered was ten years old and Danna was seven, they went through a stretch when everything Danna did irritated Jered. Jered has a big temper and God was using Danna to teach him how to control it. One day, when Jered was very frustrated and on the edge of losing it, I took him aside and said, "You have a choice. You can be angry and frustrated every time your sister does something that you don't like, or you can choose to throw your anger away. We came up with the "mad board" which was a piece of wood with nails driven in half-way. We then told Jered that when he got angry, he could go to the garage, hammer the nails all the way in and then throw the board away. We all need "anger boards" of some kind. Pray, meditate on a verse about anger, count to ten, make good use of a punching bag, take a long walk or a cold shower. You get the idea! Some anger should simply be dismissed as unworthy to occupy space in our lives.
- Resolve your anger
1 Peter 3:8 "All of you should live together in peace."
When we can't dismiss our anger because it is attached to an important issue, we have to resolve it. We postpone anger for a short time only to decide if we need to dismiss it or resolve it.
Ephesians 4:26-27 "When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day. Do not give the devil a way to defeat you."
We must deal with anger on a daily basis because when we hold on to our anger, it hardens, settling into our soul and taking root as bitterness. Satan loves bitterness, making it a dwelling place from which he dispenses defeat. When we hold on to anger, it becomes an open door for other sins to rush in. Shut that door by learning to deal with your anger.
Father, I confess to You that I have failed in the ways I have been dealing with my anger. But I want to do it Your way from now on. Fill my life with Your peace. And when I am angry, please guide me and empower me to walk in obedience.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Memorize and meditate on the following verses. Make them a part of your arsenal in the battle to deal with anger:
Proverbs 25:28 "Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit."
Proverbs 14:16b "A fool is hotheaded and reckless."
Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up."
Ephesians 4:31 "Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others."
More From The Girlfriends
Every single one of us deals with anger on a daily basis. The problem is that we deal with it in the wrong way. I want to be like Nehemiah and please God by dealing with anger His way. I know you want the same thing. Let's pray for each other this week.
Need help? Check out Mary's E-Bible Study, Anger Management 911 for powerful and practical ways to harness the power of anger and use it for good in your life. Be sure to take a look at Mary's weekly online bible study, Light for the Journey, if you are looking for a practical and powerful way to study God's word. Blessings.
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