Mark Twain said of anger that it “is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” Anger is one of the most powerful and potentially harmful emotions we possess – or, shall we say, that can possess us!
Anger is a normal emotion. It is not always bad. There are times when we become angry over the same things that anger God. We become angry at the persecution of fellow believers, at the staggering number of babies aborted every day, at those who deal drugs, rape, steal and kill. This kind of righteous indignation can lead us to prayer and action! But very often our anger is centered in self. It is not righteous indignation; it’s just getting mad!
The Scriptures challenge us: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:1-2)
There are times when you and I experience flair ups of anger because we feel disrespected or cheated in some way. It happens to all of us, but how we handle it is key. The Bible teaches us: “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
We need to deal with angry feelings swiftly so that we don’t lash out or clam up and become bitter. So, how do we deal with angry flair ups? Here are some suggestions:
1. Acknowledge your anger. Don’t pretend you’re not mad. Admit it, but in doing so take responsibility for it. Don’t blame others for making you mad.
2. Examine your anger. Is your anger justified? Is it self-centered? Is your reaction way out of proportion to the offense?
3. Confess and repent of your angry feelings. If we are outside God’s will, it is sin. The appropriate response to sin is to confess it and repent.
4. Ask for or offer forgiveness. If your anger has caused you to damage a relationship, ask for forgiveness. If you another person has offended you, then offer forgiveness. And remember that forgiveness is just as much for our benefit as it is for the person we forgive.
5. Pick up the pieces and move forward. If forgiveness has been extended or received, then move on. Learn from your experience, but don’t dwell there.