What ticks you off? Is there something that people do, or a specific person does, that gets under your skin and causes you to get upset? There are often things that may cause even a well-tempered Christian to lose their cool from time to time. For me, it usually emerges when I am driving and someone else is not driving the way I would, whether that be going too fast or too slow, or not crossing at an intersection the way I think they should. Now, I know that not everyone drives the way I do, or would I even expect them to, but I am still often surprised by how quickly I hear critical words come from my mouth when I am behind the wheel. If these or other things that cause us to quickly anger should not be, how should we respond?
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. Proverbs 29:11
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
When someone opposes us, it is within our human nature to become upset. How often have you become angry at a car, a computer, or piece of machinery and said something to the extent of ‘Come on, work the way you are supposed to!’ Or we look for someone to blame and become the focus of our anger when things don’t turn out the way we would like. Even when there seems to be no one to blame, we may tend to get angry at God for when things do not go our way. Have you ever watched the response of a parent when they ask a child to do something, and the prompt reply is ‘No!’ Maybe you have been there yourself, but it does not usually end well. How do you think God responds when we act the same toward Him?
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8
Have you ever been angry…really angry to the point you were yelling at someone or started scheming of ways to get back at them? If we let our anger continue unchecked, the ultimate response is wanting to harm someone, even to the point of murder. Jesus illustrated that fact in his condemnation not of just murder, but the anger which leads to murder. In your anger, have you ever done or said something you later regretted? We likely all have. The key is to learn from our negative experience and to identify the things that triggered our anger and to find alternate ways to respond.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
The bible is not lacking in instruction about anger and is often grouped along with other sins and contrasted to the Fruit of the Spirit. The only time it was illustrated in a positive way, as righteous anger, when Jesus became upset about the money changers making his Father’s house a den of thieves. Getting upset about the things that make God angry is warranted, but most of our grievances do not fit this category. Most of our anger is selfish anger that occurs when we do not get our way. Through scripture and even in my experience, the greatest cure for anger is forgiveness. It is not easy, nor in our human nature to give others what they do not deserve, but it is in the nature of God. So when you forgive and bless someone instead of curse them when they cut you off in traffic, it ends the anger that wants to well up within you. Try it. Just as God so often forgives us when we do not deserve it, we ought to act in the same manner toward one another.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
Blessings in Christ,