Meanderings of a Minister


Ever Been So Angry You Can’t See Straight?
October 13, 2011, 1:43 pm
Filed under: Articles

Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever been so angry at someone that you couldn’t even think?  Have you ever wondered why you get so angry?  Have you ever wondered what to do about it?

First, we need to remember that anger is a God-given emotion.  Like Genesis 1, God saw all that He had made, that it was good, but, like Genesis 3, when we fell into sin, this anger was warped along with everything else.  God originally gave us anger as an emotion designed to provide physiological changes in our bodies that enable us to either run away from danger or tackle it head on.  God gave us anger so that we would be stirred to action to right wrongs.  We still see glimpses of this original intention today.  Whether it is the two mothers that got angry at their sons dying in crashes due to cars driven by drunk drivers (MADD), or it is the soldier that gets angry that his buddies are dying on the field of battle and charges onto the front lines to protect them, or whether it is the father that is angry at his children being hurt and confronts the abuser, we can still see the right use.

Second, we need to realize that sin has corrupted that emotion.  Rather than aiming our anger at a situation that should be (and could be) remedied, we tend to address our anger at someone instead of something.  The problem with the hijacking of this important, God-given emotion, is that it puts us in situations where we can’t “fix” something, so the anger has nowhere to go to dissipate.  Jesus even said that anger, if not aimed at the right thing, can lead us to murder.  No wonder we have so many people in prison!  There is a lot wrong in our world and we keep getting angry at people!

Third, we need to realize that we cannot control what makes us angry, but we can make choices about what to do with that anger.  Martin Luther once said, “We cannot keep birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair.”  We can choose what to do with our anger.  For some, they choose to bury it.  Anger turned inward can lead to depression, ulcers, indigestion, heart problems, and many other dilatory conditions.  Anger kept at the surface can lead to bitterness, frustration, fights, condemnation and even liable, slander or cursing.  Anger aimed at people can cost us friendships, marriages, relationships with children and even jobs or our freedom.   So what do we do about it?  I am glad you asked.

Allowing that I am speaking as much to myself as others, there are some things we can do about and with our anger.  Ephesians 4:26 has two great suggestions for dealing with anger.

Ephesians 4:26 – Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.  (NASB)

Get angry at the situation and not a person.  You can change a situation, but you cannot change another human being.  (Ladies, that includes your boyfriend.  You think you can change him after you are married.  While it is true he will change, it will probably not be in the way you want.)  Get angry at injustice, poverty, human trafficking, illiteracy, improper race relations, and sin; not people!  Getting angry at the situation leads you to take action to correct it.  Getting angry at a person will just frustrate both of you (and everyone else that has listen to you!)

Additionally, it says not to let the sun go down on your anger.  What did Paul mean?  That a married couple that argues cannot go to sleep until they have dealt with the argument?  This is how it is often applied, but it can mean so much more.  It means to decide what you are going to do with your anger quickly.  It does not mean go ahead and hit the person that has offended you.  This would be covered above.  It means to decide to take action to fix what is wrong and do so quickly.  Don’t sit and stew, hoping the situation will fix itself.  Take action.  Broken friendship? Apologize.  Troubled marriage?  Humble yourself and put the other’s needs first.  See poverty?  Meet a need.  Whatever you are angry about, get involved in fixing it!

A final word.  If you choose to keep getting angry at people, instead of situations, and you don’t think you need to worry about what the Bible has to say, how about a practical consideration?

Ambrosiaster (Fourth Century AD) told us we should “commit everything to God’s judgment so that an enemy will find no way of promoting or advancing what is against our interest, while we are too angry to notice.”[1]


[1] Gerald Bray, Translated form Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 81,1:415).

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

OK, good advice, but what happens if you DO “humble yourself and try putting the other person ahead of yourself” and it doesn’t change anything. Kind of like give some an inch and they take a mile. So when that happens, I’m angry all over again. 😦

Comment by Kayw

Kayw,
You raise an interesting point with the question you posted. Before the answer can be given, you have to ask yourself what you are wanting by your actions. If you are simply wanting to do what is right and avoid being led down the path that leads to bitterness, then you have to go into the situation making decisions and taking actions that do not depend upon how the other person reacts. The problem, often, is that we do one and expect a reciprocal action. When we don’t get that action, we get angry, disappointed or even feel abused. Sometimes, it is just a matter of obeying God and following Him because that is what is right. When Jesus hung on the cross, He prayed for those that were nailing Him there, but they did not take Him down. He did right and they did not respond. Jesus died in peace with them because He had done what was right. I know it sounds too easy, but we have to make sure our happiness is not based upon someone else’s actions, because, if it is, we will probably be let down more often than not.

Keep on making good choices and don’t give others power over you by allowing their actions to determine your happiness.

Jack

Comment by pastorjackliberal




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