Robert and Maureen McQuillan write:
Remember the Jack Nicholson movie, Anger Management? He plays a psychiatrist, Dr Buddy Rydell, who volunteers to help a guy with anger problems.
A judge asks him: ‘You think you can help him?’ His replies, ‘Yep. And if I can’t, I’ll tear him apart with my bare hands.’
Sounds like a psych with his own anger management problem!
An LA journalist friend asks us: ‘Why are Christians so angry? Where is the love?’ A current, very appropriate question – the Holy Spirit is obviously trying to get something through to Christians.
Actually, the truth is that Christians shouldn’t display anger, yet so often we do. We’re supposed to exhibit the Galatians 5:22-23 fruit of the Spirit – the very nature of Jesus himself!
And, after all, if we Christians can control our actions, achieving positive results, surely we can also control our negative reactions!
Proverbs 14:29 (GNB) gives good advice: ‘If you stay calm, you are wise, but if you have a hot temper, you only show how stupid you are.’
Displaying anger reveals five ‘stupid’ things…
- A bad witness
- Tells others something is wrong in our heart
- Indicates our attitude isn’t right
- Means we can’t control our tongue
- Displays an abrupt, explosive lack of self-control.
And it’s foolish. Ecclesiastes 7:9b (Message) says, ‘You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.’
The first part of this verse tells how such lumps come about – sort of Ozzie-fashioned! ‘Don’t be quick to fly off the handle. Anger boomerangs’ Solomon warned. Australians know about boomerangs – they come back!
Anger can boomerang!
Hear about Bluey? Goes to bed really tired for a good long sleep. But around five o’clock in the morning he’s abruptly wakened by an awesomely loud noise, as if someone is drilling away powerfully on his roof.
Still in his pyjamas, Bluey rushes into the backyard to find a little magpie pounding on the TV antenna. Angry at the tiny bird for ruining his sleep, Bluey picks up a rock and throws it. But the rock sails over his house, and Bluey hears a distant crash as the windscreen of his new car is smashed! Fiercely angry, Bluey takes a vicious kick at another rock, only to remember – too late – that he is still in his bare feet!
Oooouch! The boomerang principle! Uncontrolled anger, as Bluey painfully learned, can sometimes be its own reward as it comes back on you. No wonder magpies are known as ‘the Devil Bird.’ Funny too, that the Latin word for magpie – pica – is also the term for a weird psychological disorder.
Anger unmanaged primarily brings disorder problems on oneself and leads to all sorts of trouble, offences and heartaches between couples, family, friends and workmates.
A patient person doesn’t slide into destructive anger. Such are under self-control and are stronger than warriors: ‘Better a patient person than a warrior, those with self-control than those who take a city’ (Proverbs16:32). Personally, we know we’d rather be considered patient Christians than foolish!
A self-destructive force
Dictionaries say that anger is a strong emotion excited by a real or supposed injury; wrath, rage inflaming us.
Different OT words reveal anger as a rapid breathing, noises from the nose, blazing up from being jealous, displeased, grieved and enraged. NT words indicate it’s a violent passion from an excitement in the mind, wrong coveting, desiring, provoking, enraging, becoming exasperated, a brutish animal thing.
It’s really a frame of mind, a heart thing, a mood arising from…
- Being upset over, misunderstanding something said or done
- Inability or unwillingness to forgive. (A big problem among Christians today – not forgiving and forgetting!)
We live in days of rage: road, drinking, city streets, sport, home, workplace. Anger can lead to –
– ‘Blood boiling’ and ‘seeing red’
– Flaring up, heavy breathing and flared nostrils
– Loss of peace and self-control
– Wasting energy and time
– Lashing out and worse (Consider anger’s origin – Genesis 4)
– And many other tragic results.
Croft Pentz hit it on the head: ‘Speak when you are angry – and it will be the best speech you will ever forget.’ We need to stay cool!
Anger consumes and destroys – it’s a robber of peace and progress. Yes, the Bible tells of God’s righteous anger over sin and human foolishness but it repeatedly speaks against human anger!
In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists anger alongside immorality, jealousy and witchcraft! That’s scary! 2 Corinthians 12:20 tells us that it must not be found in churches and therefore not in our lives. Jesus strongly warned that even calling someone a fool could lead to hellfire (Matthew 5:22).
It’s okay to display a righteous anger…at sickness, Satan’s works, evil, hurt people, over people being spiritually misled. Psalm 97:10 speaks of such righteous anger – furiously and utterly hating evil. But – Psalm 4:4-5 gives good bedtime advice, ‘Complain if you must, but don’t lash out. Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking. Build your case before God and wait for his verdict.’
In other words, think the problem through, sleep on it before acting. Invoke Ephesians 4:26…Deal with it before you fall asleep.
Dealing with anger
Robert Shannon wrote: ‘There’s a small village in Austria named Anger. Obviously, the word anger doesn’t have the same meaning in German as it has in English! But let’s suppose there is a special town named Anger. Suppose everyone whose life is dominated by anger or whose life has been ruined by anger was required to live there. No village would hold them all – only a very large city!’
It’s very human to be angry – but we’re supposed to be new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not giving in to anger is a sign of maturity and being obedient to God. Some keys:
- Chill out before it gets out of hand, breathe deeply and remain patient. Proverbs 16:32 GNB: ‘It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities.’
- Consider all angles such as…
– What’s behind what was said?
– What’s with the person upsetting you
– Offences only arise if foolishly accepted
– Seeing an alternative viewpoint
– Who is really going to get hurt if you strike out? You of course!
– Will your display of anger belittle your Christian witness?
- Confront the situation, deal with it quickly
- Ask the Holy Spirit to help
- Quickly turn your thoughts to sweeter things, especially positive scriptures
- Act maturely (godly power), don’t react (foolishness). Display love instead of loathing!
- Be so quick to forgive and to quickly forget.
Psalm 78:38 says God turns away his anger because of his great compassion. We too must be understanding and compassionate toward people who could make our blood boil, instead of partnering with anger, hatred, revenge, bandying words and such!
As 2 Timothy 1:7 directs, let’s ‘Be bold, loving and sensible.’