By Brandy Webb
Anger can be the bitterest fruit of all destructive emotions. “It shatters friendships and destroys marriages; it causes abuse in families and discord in business; it breeds violence in the community and war between nations. Its recoil, like that of a high-powered rifle, often hurts the one who wields it as well as its target” (Billy Graham, www.beliefnet.com/Health/2006/03/Overcoming-Anger-And-Fear.aspx#kEUy0Ulomt8ROwic.99).
How true that statement is. I have seen the destruction of anger. I have been a victim of others’ anger, and I have definitely been the one lashing out in anger. The thing is, neither situation is any fun. I am never proud when I give into anger, and I definitely don’t like it when I am on the receiving end.
I know that we all get angry sometimes, and there are times when we should get angry when an injustice happens. Sometimes true righteous anger, not self-righteous anger, is what motivates us to make positive changes. The thing to remember, though, is that, yes, there are times when we can be angry, but we better not let it lead us to sin. Moreover, we are not to “let the sun go down on [our] anger, and give [any] opportunity to the devil” (Eph 4:26-27). We have to be watchful at all times. We cannot let our anger be the door that the devil can use to destroy us from the inside out.
God knows that there are times that we will get angry, but the thing is, most of the times we probably don’t have a justification for our anger. Like getting angry because things didn’t work out the way we wanted. Or, getting angry at someone because they have a different opinion than we do. Or, just being an angry person. In fact, it seems to me that there are a lot of angry people everywhere these days. The anger of the world is quickly followed by with rage, malice, hate, and definitely unforgiveness. We cannot succumb to anger that leads to unforgiveness because, if we do, then we can’t be forgiven (Matt 6:14-15). Unwilling to forgive nullifies our very Savior’s sacrifice for us. Scriptures are very clear as to what God thinks of those who are quick to give into anger. How about we look at a few:
- “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Prov 29:11, emphasis mine).
- “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression” (Prov 29:22).
- “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov 19:11).
- “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contentions” (Prov 15:18).
- “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov 15:1).
- “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated” (Prov 14:17).
- “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools” (Eccl 7:9, emphasis mine).
- “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger: for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20, emphasis mine).
- “But now you must put them all away, anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Col 3:8).
Trust me, this is only a selected few scriptures that deal with anger. The main thing that stands out to me is the word fool. Obviously, God sees those who are constantly quick to give into anger as fools or behaving foolishly. I really don’t want to be a fool. I would rather be a wise person. How about you?
Anger can be very destructive. How many churches, families, and friendships have split due to anger? Anger that isn’t dealt with and healed can eventually turn into bitterness if we just try to squash it deep into our souls and ignore it. How many people have had their health deteriorate because they are full of anger and bitterness?
So, what are we to do to combat anger? How do we overcome the carnal desire of wrath? Well, first, it takes the Holy Spirit in us to help, and then we need to actively resist the temptation by how we live. Jesus tells us how we combat anger, and it isn’t easy—but nothing is impossible with God:
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:7-36).
Like I said, it isn’t easy, but we are to live by the Spirit. If you notice, there is no loophole in these scriptures that says, “Act this way unless you think you are right; in that case, you can force your beliefs, opinions, ideas, etc. onto the opposing party.” No, there is no loophole to justify acting foolishly. We are to become like Christ, who had all reasons to lash out in anger at those who hated Him, but what did He do? He died for them, and He died for us. Let us never take His sacrifice for granted. So, the next time we feel that destructive serpent of anger slithering in our gut and rearing back to prepare to strike, remember that we are to “be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you,” (Eph 4:32).