We have all been there at one point in our lives. Our spouse, kids, boss, neighbor, or friend does or says something that upsets us, and all of a sudden, we feel the pressure begin to build. You start to feel tight around the collar like the dry cleaner put too much starch on it. Heat builds up around the ears, and you feel your face begin to flush. As you continue to think about the action or what was said, it increases. Your heart pounds, and life begins to go in slow motion. You can almost hear NASA control: “T-minus 10, 9, 8…”
What you do or say at this moment may affect the next few minutes, hours, days, or even years. What usually happens for you? Do you go into “the silent treatment” mode? Do you escape onto the highways and freeways in pursuit of your NASCAR fantasies? Or do you explode with a tirade of intimidating words or actions in a vain attempt to control the situation? Regardless of the action, the result is distance, danger, and damage – none of which brings back the closeness or safety that we all hope for in our relationships.
Have you ever wondered what God thinks about anger and how we should respond to it? Maybe you are wondering what God expects of you when it comes to your angry feelings towards others. You may have searched the Bible for answers and finished with more questions than you started with. Be assured that you are in good company, and your questions are valid and understandable. The Bible makes a few things clear when it comes to talking about anger. It lets us know that anger is a feeling God created and is not a sin, but anger is a slippery slope that can lead us to sinful action.
As Christians, we believe that God created all things, even human emotion, of which anger is one. Believe it or not, anger does serve a purpose for each individual. It is not a pleasant emotion, but it is one that can be useful. Compare it to pain, it is not very fun to feel; but if we did not have it, we would not know to move our hand off the hot burner or our bodies out of harmful situations. Anger is an emotion that comes up as a reaction to someone interfering or placing limits upon our will. If the limit is an unjust one such as slavery, racism, or sexism, then that anger gives us the motivation to make a positive change. A positive view of anger is indignation. Indignation as a response to our natural anger at injustice is a good, non-sinful, God created emotion to inspire us to make things here on earth better. Once the injustice is corrected, the excitement drops off – much like pain once healing from a hurt has occurred.
However, the Bible also recognizes that when we hold onto anger and allow it to fester within us, to the point that it leads us into sin very quickly. Therefore it gives us an excellent guideline for how to deal with anger so that it leads us through our feelings and back into relationship with those whom we are angry. Ephesians 4:25-27 tells us: “So then, putting away falsehood let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry, but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not make room for the adversary.”
So what will your strategy be to deal with your anger? Decide your course of action before your anger makes the choices that could be destructive in your life.