Lately I’ve been reading about anger. Since it is the doorway, the starting point for bitterness, it’s helpful to understand it. It is interesting to read different opinions on anger from both worldly and godly perspectives and I’ll be sharing more of that in subsequent blogs.
We are told in Ephesians 4:26 that when we are angry we should be careful not to sin. So that assumes we will get angry sometimes. But the key is handling it in a godly fashion, in a way that pleases Christ.
Here are some brief guidelines to follow if you find yourself provoked to anger.
How should you react?
Seriously. Wait, breathe, calm down, think. It’s never a good idea to react immediately. Many harsh and hurtful things have been said in the heat of anger. Most of these are cause for regret later. I know the temptation – the email pops up in your inbox, you scan it and immediately erupt. Or you arrive home and trip over shoes and coats in the hallway, even after several reminders and threats to your children. You want to lash out NOW.
But it is never the wisest course and certainly isn’t how Jesus would have us react. If someone attacks you in person, try your best to delay the conversation and talk about it another time.
“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3 Click To Tweet
2. Analyze and verbalize exactly why you are angry. Who or what has provoked this reaction? Has someone mistreated or ignored you? Was it deliberate? Is the car in front of you going ridiculously slow? If you said it out loud to another person, would they feel your anger is justified? Are you sure you have all the facts?
3. Think through all your options. If the car in front of you is driving slowly, you can run them off the road. Which will probably result in an accident and your arrest. If someone has spread gossip about you, you can retaliate by spreading even worse gossip about them in return. You always have options. We just don’t always like them or their repercussions. The Bible tells us to either go directly to the person and talk about the issue (Matthew 18) or cover it over and forgive (Prov 12:16). Those are our best options, the ones where we can be angry and not sin.
4. Pray for wisdom. Ask the Lord how He would have you react. Depending on the situation, sometimes it is best to confront someone about their actions. But this must be done with the motive of bringing about reconciliation and always in love. It cannot be done while you are still angry. Much of the time the better option will be to let the offense go, to cover it over with love (I Peter 4:8).
5. Pray for the person who has incited your anger. One day years ago I was furious with my husband and was complaining to a good friend. She recommended the book “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian. It was an eye-opening, impactful book for me. It’s almost impossible to stay angry with someone you are praying for. Click To TweetIt’s almost impossible to stay angry with someone you are praying for. Your entire perspective changes when you see them through God’s eyes.
Ephesians 4:27 tells us that anger is an avenue through which the enemy can get to us with increased temptation. May we be on guard and handle our anger correctly!