The world is an angry place. Reality television shows know that Americans like confrontation. One even features “mama drama” for their Mother’s Day show. Road rage is now normal. Some walk around with an already short fuse burning quickly. The effects of anger are obvious and usually felt bubbling just below the surface. Blood pressure rises, heart rate increase and numerous normal physical impulses are triggered by our anger. No “normal” person enjoys anger but must still deal with its effects daily and sometimes hourly. The Bible teaches about anger and can help us put anger in the right place.
Anger Is Not Sin, But It Can Be
Despite how we may feel, anger is not necessarily sin. Recall that Jesus was angry (Matthew 21:12, 13; Mark 3:1-6; 11:15-19; Luke 19:45, 46). God was indignant (Psalm 7:11; 85:4; Jeremiah 10:10 et al). True enough, the text does not use the word anger to describe Jesus. However, his actions clearly would fit into our definition of anger. Ephesians 4:26 records Paul: “Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger” (c.f. Psalm 4:4).
While anger is not always sin, it can escalate and become sinful. As anger builds, we feel self-control slipping away. Anger almost always comes before violence. Throttle anger before it turns evil. Scriptures on point include (Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Timothy 2:8).
What Do I Do?
Assuming that no one likes to be angry, we offer five tips to quell anger before it becomes sin.
Eliminate the Source
Sometimes, the best cure is to walk away from the source of your anger. This is a Biblical precept found in Romans 12:18: If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Notice that it may not be possible to live in peace with some. If possible, exclude those who anger you.
Reverse the Roles
The other person is angry for some reason. Something happened. Given that we usually do not know the precipitating event let us assume the best and treat them with the grace we would desire for ourselves. This too is Biblical. It is the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12.
The world is busy, and often we skip the niceties and go straight to the point. This may produce increased efficiency but at the cost of kindness. Slow down, listen to the other person, and digest the content and the intent of what they are actually saying. Past generations encouraged others to count to 10 before responding. That is a good idea.
Maybe you are the problem. We tend to blame others for problems, but we should consider that we may be at fault. Are our words harsh? Are we demanding? Do we transfer our anger from one person to another? Consider self.
If you have an anger problem, begin now to pray about it. Do not stop praying; be in persistent prayer over your problem, and God will help. We discount prayer in our modern, tech-driven, science-worshiping world. We ought not. Pray works when all else fails.
Let us pursue the good goal of joy, happiness, peace, and kindness in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). Constant anger is not the place for a child of God.
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at preachersstudyblog.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.