Summary: Does your anger need to be controlled, condemned, conquered or channeled. Does it result in sinful or God honoring behavior. You do have a choice.
GOD’S ANSWER TO ANGER
The story is told of a man and woman who had been married for over 60 years. They had shared everything except there was one secret in their marriage. The wife had a shoe box in the top of her closet, and she had cautioned her husband never to open it and never to ask about it. He never did. But one day his wife got sick. It was determined that she would not recover. As they began to sort out her affairs, the husband took down the shoe box and took it to his wife. They agreed that it was time that she should explain the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $25,000. He lovingly asked her about the contents. She responded by saying “Just before we got married, my grandmother told me that the secret of a happy marriage was never to argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll. The husband was moved to tears, as he looked at the two dolls lying in the box. Only twice in all those years had his darling wife been angry with him. He said, “But what about all this money? How did you manage to save all of this money?” “Oh” she
answered, “that is the money I made from selling the dolls.”
Question: How much money would you have if you were paid every time that you have gotten angry? We all get angry and contrary to what some believe anger is not a sin. Anger is a God given emotion that can either serve you well or get you in a lot of trouble depending on how it is handled. We are told 375 times in the scripture that God got angry. From Moses to Nehemiah, from Ezra to Jesus, we are constantly told about times of anger in individual’s lives. The real issue is what you do when you get angry? How do you deal with it? Does your anger result in sinful or God honoring behavior?
Negative/sinful anger is expressed in a number of ways. There are Maniacs who tend to explode, yell, scream and act like raging lunatics. If you have ever seen one get mad and make a fool out of themselves, this is the guy. There are Mutes who simply turn in and silently do a slow burn. This is the crock pot version of anger where one steams and stews while denying that he is even angry. Of course everyone else knows. There are Martyrs who are professionals at throwing pity parties. They feel sorry for themselves and blame others for things gone wrong. The older brother (found in Luke 15) fits this profile quite well. There are the Manipulators. This is the Lee Iacocca version of anger whose attitude was “I don’t get mad, I get even.” The Pharisees in Jesus day, who in frustration turned on Jesus gives us a good picture of this group.
Rather than turn our attention to the consequences of misplaced anger: jobs lost, friendships ruined, spirituality destroyed, health, vitality, and joy taken away; let’s turn our attention to God’s answer when it comes to dealing with anger. And deal with it we must, for as one writer has aptly said: “Unrighteous anger is an acid that destroys its container.” Consider the following principles in dealing with your anger.
Principle #1: Sudden Anger is to be Controlled
It is a fact that people who fly into a rage seldom make a good landing. Solomon had much to say about this thing called sudden anger. “A quick tempered man does foolish things” (Proverbs 14:17). “A hot tempered man stirs up dissension” (15:18). “A quick tempered man displays folly” (14:29). “A fool gives full vent to his anger” (29:11). John Hunter suffered with a serious heart condition for years. He displayed wisdom when he acknowledged that his life was at the mercy of anyone who could make him angry. So he guarded against that very thing. Whether the loss of one’s health, friends or dignity, Solomon said it best when he stated “a hot tempered man must pay the penalty” (19:19). Even when it is obvious to others, it is hard to admit that one has acted foolishly in anger. Though as one writer put it, “Denying one’s anger is like putting a burning trash can in a closet and closing the door, damage and disaster will follow.” Before there is a crisis caused by your rage, allow reason to prevail. Before reacting in anger, consider the acronym FORD, and ask the following questions: How do I feel? (I feel angry!) What are my options? (I don’t have to do what I feel like doing. There are other options.) What is the right thing to do? (I will let God’s Spirit guide me with this one.) What will I do? (God made me a free moral agent with the ability to choose what I will do. I will do the right thing. I will do the God honoring thing.) Sudden anger needs to be controlled, and will be if you will but stop, think, and allow God to rule in the situation.