August 15, 2016
A Plan for Anger Management, Part 1
“In your anger, do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).
Friend to Friend
We live in a very angry world. Road rage … suicide bombings … random shootings … bullies terrorize their victims online and in schools … acts of violence fill the news every day. The reality is that everyone has to deal with anger. The challenge is to deal with anger in the right way. Anger is powerful - an emotional warning that something is wrong. We have been hurt or rejected. Something has changed, and we don’t like it!
Anger itself is not sin. We just have to learn to express anger in the right way. Mishandled anger is destructive, but anger that is handled correctly can become a tool for good. God’s Word is filled with tips for learning to handle anger in a healthy and godly way.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
If we are busy, it is much easier to ignore or refuse to face and deal with the real source of anger. Anger that is not dealt with in the right way accumulates over time, allowing bitterness to take root and rage to simmer just below the surface of everything we do, say, think or feel. In order to manage anger, we need to incorporate frequent and regular “stops” into our schedules; time set aside to simply be still and hear the voice of God.
James 1:19-20 “Everyone should be slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Our first response to conflict is often not a response at all … but a reaction. We jump in with a brutal rebuttal or a thoughtless correction – which is like pouring gasoline on a fire. An explosion is bound to happen. Our first action should be to stop and think instead of rushing to respond in a way that could escalate tensions or provoke an offensive response from others. Listen to the other person before responding. Whisper a prayer for wisdom and control. Try counting to ten before saying anything. Put into place a “pause button” for times when you are angry.
Proverbs 25:28 “Like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who lacks self-control.”
Wisdom is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Anger management comes from wisdom rooted in self-control. I love the story of Jesus driving the money changers out of His Father’s temple. In John 2:15, Scripture says Jesus “made a whip out of cords.” Don’t miss this picture. At the height of His anger, Jesus gathered several cords and braided a whip. I imagine it took several minutes at least to form a whip substantial enough to drive grown men anywhere. I think Jesus was so angry that He knew He needed to cool off, so He deliberately chose to be still, quiet and wise. When we are close to losing control of anger, we need to be wise.
Psalm 4:4 “In your anger do not sin … search your hearts and be silent.”
The longer I work with people the more I realize that there is always a reason for their behavior. Hurt people – hurt people. When you are angry with someone, ask yourself why. Think back to what led up to the conflict. Was it something someone said to you? Has a past problem triggered your present anger? Give yourself time to consider why you are upset and what you should do to handle it in a way that pleases God.
God created us with the capacity for emotions. That means He has a right plan and a right place for emotions in our lives. Anger management is a spiritual discipline that God honors, blesses and empowers. Tomorrow, we will look at four more ways God gives us to control anger.
Father, please forgive me when I allow anger to control what I say and do. I want to honor You in the way I manage my emotions – especially the anger in my life. Fill my heart with Your peace. Help me cultivate the spiritual discipline of anger management and learn how to control my emotions instead of allowing them to control me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Which anger management tip jumps out at you as a starting point for learning to control anger in your life? Read and memorize the verse of Scripture listed with that tip. Pray – asking God to show you the steps you need to take today to manage the anger in your life.
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