Five Biblical Steps to Controlling Anger

Source

It’s happened to all of us. Someone has deeply hurt us, wounded, offended, or frustrated us, and we become very, very angry about it.

That anger gets us in its grip, and won’t let go. It seems to take over our minds, and we just can’t stop thinking about it. It’s like we are carrying around a 100 pound weight strapped to our backs, and we can’t get rid of it.

One of the most widespread teachings of the Bible, prominent in both the Old and New Testaments, is that we cannot afford to continue carrying that weight of anger around in our lives.

Psalms 37:8 (NKJV) Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret-it only causes harm.

If we had a physical 100 pound weight strapped to our backs, eventually it would wear our bodies down and negatively affect our health. In the same way, the Bible says, if we continue to carry around that weight of anger, it will eventually damage us spiritually and emotionally.

The one who is damaged the most by my anger is … me!

Many times the person who has hurt me so badly, or annoyed me, or frustrated me to no end, isn’t even aware of the anger I’m experiencing toward them – or they don’t care. Either way, my anger isn’t hurting them. But what it is doing is dragging me down emotionally. It’s destroying my peace and stealing my joy … and often, it’s hindering my prayers. And that, the Bible says, is foolish!

Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NKJV) Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.

All of us must confront this issue at some point in our lives: how can I break free from the grip of anger when someone has deeply hurt or frustrated me?

Here are five steps the Bible says we can take to help us take control of our anger.

1. Acknowledge your anger

I once had a friend who would say, when she was really mad, “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.” It was obvious to everyone around her that she was seething inside. But she felt she couldn’t admit to being angry because she was a Christian, and Christians don’t get angry, do they? Yes they do!

Ephesians 4:26 "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath.

The Bible is very forthright about the fact that we will get angry at times in our lives. And that inevitable anger is not necessarily a sin. In fact, when handled rightly, it can be a legitimate, God-given tool that fulfills a definite purpose – to move us to take action to correct the situation that caused our anger in the first place.

So, it’s not wrong to be angry. But where we do go wrong is when we allow our anger to control us instead of us controlling it. And the first step to taking control over our anger is simply to acknowledge that we really are angry.

Source

Probably the worst thing we can do with our anger is to sweep it under the rug and pretend it’s not there.

When we try to hide our anger, and refuse to acknowledge the rage that’s boiling up inside, eventually it goes underground in our emotions, and turns into bitterness and resentment toward the person we are angry with.

I’ve heard many testimonies of people who had some kind of illness in their bodies, and no matter how much they prayed and were prayed for, nothing seemed to help. But when God was finally able to get through to them and show them that the real problem was their bitterness and resentment against someone who had hurt them, their physical symptoms were finally alleviated.

So, the first step to overcoming the destructive power of unrestrained anger in our lives is to acknowledge that it’s real and needs to be dealt with.

2. Set your will to forgive

Ultimately, there is only one way to escape the deathly grip of anger when we have been deeply hurt, offended, or frustrated. Sooner or later, we have to forgive the person we think was at fault.

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Forgiveness

The key to being able to forgive is understanding that forgiveness is not a matter of how we feel about the person, but of making the heart commitment to no longer hold their offense against them. In effect, we make the decision to release them from the moral debt they owe us because of whatever they’ve done to us. And that decision doesn’t depend on how we happen to be feeling toward that person. It’s a commitment of the will.

Here’s an example. When I married my wife, the pastor who conducted the ceremony never once asked me how I felt about marrying her. But he very definitely asked if I was willing to commit myself to her "for as long as you both shall live." Once my bride and I affirmed that commitment, the pastor pronounced us husband and wife. The foundation of our marriage relationship was not how we happened to be feeling, then or since, but the commitment we each made by an act of our will to one another and to God.

In the same way, when I make the heart decision to forgive, and set my will to no longer hold what someone did to me against them, God registers my forgiveness in heaven. And it doesn’t matter how I feel about it.

3. Pray the prayer of forgiveness

Once we make the decision to forgive, we need to take action to put that commitment into effect. Perhaps the most effective way to do that is to verbalize our forgiveness to the Lord.

Acts 7:59-60 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Source

When we declare to God our decision to forgive the person who hurt us, we recognize that it is primarily to Him that our commitment is made. In biblical terms, we establish a covenant of forgiveness with God, knowing His declaration that once such a covenant has been put into effect, it cannot be broken (Galatians 3:15).

From that point, our forgiveness of the offender is a spiritual reality. No matter how we might happen to be feeling about that person at any particular time, the fact that we have forgiven him or her means we will treat them as forgiven.

Do you usually handle your anger in a godly way?

  • Yes - My anger rarely gets out of control
  • No - My anger often overflows, and I know I need help controlling it
  • No - I get as angry as anyone else, but that's just natural
See results without voting

4. Ask God to help you deal with your angry feelings

Realistically, it often takes time to really feel forgiveness, especially when the wound I’ve suffered is a deep one. But God is gracious. What I and many other believers have discovered is that when we make the heart commitment to forgive, God can bring our feelings into line with the reality of that forgiveness.

Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Of course, I am totally incapable of ruling my spirit on my own, and I’ll never succeed without God’s help. But when I take the turmoil of my emotions to God in prayer, He promises to replace that turmoil with His peace:

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

There will be times when just the thought of the individual who hurt me brings back all the feelings of anger and bitterness seemingly at full force. But every time that happens, I take those feelings back to the Lord, and ask Him to replace them with the peace of God.

5. Refuse to keep thinking about the offence

If you’re anything like me, when someone has deeply and unfairly hurt or offended you, your mind keeps going back to that offence over and over again. You think about what they did, and how wrong it was for them to do it. Perhaps you even fantasize about them getting their just deserts for daring to treat you that way. And every time you think about it, your resentment of that person grows.

Source

Many times people who find their thoughts continually running in that angry rut feel that there’s nothing they can do to stop it. After all, they think, you can’t prevent such thoughts from invading your mind. But that’s not true! The Bible says we can do exactly that.

2 Corinthians 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ

“Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” That’s what God calls on us to do when our thoughts seem to be out of control.

But how? Trying to just not think about something is a losing battle. Here is God’s answer to that question:

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.

When I was a child in Sunday School, I learned a song that said,

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

There’s a lot of wisdom in that little song. We can’t just stop thinking about what has been done to us. Nature abhors a vacuum. But what we can do is push out the negative thoughts by pouring in joyous thoughts of what God has done for us. Here’s what I mean:

Don’t think about bananas!

What’s in your mind right now? Probably the image of a beautiful yellow banana. And the more you tell yourself to stop thinking about bananas, the more firmly that image will lodge itself in your mind.

Have you ever been in a car accident? I vividly remember the helpless feeling I had when I stopped at a red light and saw in my rear view mirror that the truck coming up behind me would never be able to stop in time. And yes, that drunk driver plowed right into the back of my car.

What are you thinking of now? Probably not bananas! Not unless you deliberately tried to hold onto that image once I drew your attention to car accidents.

So, here’s the secret to keeping your thoughts under control. Every time you find that your mind has slipped back into that same old rut of anger and bitterness, deliberately turn your thoughts to some of the many blessings God has brought into your life. You may need to write out a list so you’ll have it handy. And use the Scriptures. The Bible itself provides ample raw material for counting your blessings!

Colossians 1:12-14 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

We can control our anger!

Letting go of our anger when we have been hurt is not easy. But if we put these biblical principles into practice, we’ll be well on our way to controlling our anger rather than allowing it to control us.


More on anger: 5 Things The Bible Teaches About Handling Anger

© 2014 Ronald E. Franklin

More by this Author


35 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Great hub. I am sharing it.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks, Eric!


Purpose Embraced profile image

Purpose Embraced 2 years ago from Jamaica

Thanks for a timely reminder Ron. I find if I continue to think about the offense, this fuels my anger. You are right, we really have to make a decision to forgive.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks, Yvette. I think it's a reminder we all need over and over.


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 2 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

Love bananas & peanut butter mixed & almost frozen. Today being -06-21-2014 the longest day of the year .I'm going to have some right now before I get angry from all the heat. After all can't blame God for it right!


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks for reading, someonewhoknows.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

When I was married, my husband heard me fussing with a friend of mine. There was no guessing how angry I was. The next night he was shocked to hear me talking and laughing with the same friend. I explained to him that anger does not last after you've dealt with it. There's nothing worse than denying it. Express it without sinning and it's gone. You gave good counsel.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks, MsDora. What a good testimony. Your experience highlights the Scripture's admonition to "not let the sun go down on your wrath."


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

Ron, this a great advice from the only Authority that should run our lives. I might add that yesterday, I heard a sermon on anger. It is interesting to note that in Matthew 5:21-24, it says:

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

First of all, anger is immediately spoken of by Jesus after he quotes the 6th Commandment. This means that if your anger gets to the point where you have murder in your heart (not just acting upon it), you need to get on your knees. Also, He mentions anger in three steps. The first one is being angry with a brother or sister to the point where it goes to civil court (judgement of men). The second step is calling someone "Raca," meaning moron, and being angry to the point where it also goes to court, this time the supreme court (also the judgement of men). But if your anger gets to the point where you want to murder someone, then you are in danger of God's judgement (hell fire).

Here's the kicker of the whole sermon: Before you make an offering to the Lord, you should go and make restitution to whomever has something against you! Not the other way around. It isn't about you - it's about them and your forgiveness. Isn't Jesus a wonderful Savior?


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks so much, Ann1Az2. I think it's great that you not only heard a sermon on anger, but you obviously really took it in. So many Christians seem to have never been taught that just letting their anger explode is not a godly thing to do!


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 2 years ago from Canada

@RonElFran, I am so glad I found your writing. This is excellent advice. I think I will share it too, and want to read it again. I like how you put anger management into the category of a spiritual discipline, and a choice. Blessings to you.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks, prairieprincess. I think realizing that the Bible teaches that we have the choice whether or not to let our anger control us is a necessary first step toward us controlling it!


Brite-Ideas profile image

Brite-Ideas 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

A wonderful page - and great advice for when we're in the heat of a moment - hard to contain and redirect sometimes, but it's amazing what a prayer can accomplish


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks so much, Brite-Ideas. This is certainly an issue we all need God's help with!


favored profile image

favored 2 years ago from USA

Excellent points for dealing with anger, and I love the references you used. Appreciate this lesson Pastor, and will share it.


DealForALiving profile image

DealForALiving 2 years ago from Earth

Thanks so much for sharing this and I hope we can get a lot of people to read these steps.


Rhonda Lytle profile image

Rhonda Lytle 2 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

I'm book marking this. Highly useful! Thank you for putting this together.

God watch over you.


Pawpawwrites profile image

Pawpawwrites 2 years ago from Kansas

I has a slight problem with anger when I was young. I really worried that I might have damaged my children in some way. I apologized to them after they were adults. As it turned out, they all said that they really hadn't noticed that much. I'm glad I brought it up to them though. It might make them think bringing up their own kids.


ThreeQuarters2Day profile image

ThreeQuarters2Day 2 years ago from Nebraska

Thank you for this article and advice, it's something I really needed today. Yes, anger if not expressed to the person you're angry with builds resentment, and that's a hard thing to get over. I needed some of the advice to overcome, look at the positive, write down the good things in life. god Bless you


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thank you, favored. Scripture provides what we need to help us handle our anger.


Linda BookLady profile image

Linda BookLady 2 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

Wonderful advice from scripture and from your heart. Thank you! Anger is natural but forgiveness is God's work in you.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks, DealForALiving. I hope many believers will be motivated to follow the Bible's teaching on dealing with anger. We all need it!


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Hi, Rhonda. I'm really glad you find this useful. Thanks so much for reading and for your comment.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Hi, Pawpawwrites. Isn't it great that God made children so resilient? And by sharing with them about your anger, I'm sure you've helped them be aware of their own. Thanks for reading and commenting.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks, ThreeQuarters2Day. I know from experience how easy it is to get so caught up in our anger we forget all about God's prescription. I'm glad this helped.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Linda, you are so right. Forgiveness is not natural for us; it only truly happens because of God's work in us. Thanks for reading and commenting.


snerfu profile image

snerfu 2 years ago from Madurai, India

Lovely inspiring and clear words Pastor, I often think anger is limited to only me. Indeed anger like all other base emotions like pride and jealousy need to be discussed and thrown away, quicker the better. Forgiveness is basic Christian precept that we practice every moment of our life. Thanks for refreshing these things for me. Voted up and will look you up often.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks, so much, snerfu. You're right, we need to bring our anger out of hiding and subject it to the light of God's word. But that's not easy for any of us to do consistently! Only as we allow God to be in control can we succeed.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

Now this is a good Hub!

Let me add the following, God does not condemn so we should also not condemn.

In the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) the father ran to the son and welcomed him even while the son was far off.

An Adulteress was presented to Jesus (John 8:4) and Jesus did not condemn her.

Jesus said in John 8:15, You judge by the standards of Men, I judge no one.

By condemn I mean a judgment to the extent of creation of negative emotions. It is the negative emotion which is the sin.

You have properly written that forgiveness is the key. Forgiveness removes the negative emotions within us.

To help us forgive remember we do not have perfect knowledge. If we knew more about the person, we would have a reason to forgive them. Try to understand what the person is going through to drive them to anger.

I invite you to read the Hub, "GOD DOES NOT CONDEMN, we judge ourselves in a mirror held by God."


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks, Jay, for reading and commenting.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

I hope some day you will join me in the "Peace Testimony."

I renounce war and fighting for any purpose or under any pretense whatsoever.


Charito1962 profile image

Charito1962 2 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Beautiful hub! Yes, I believe that anger - when not justified - is simply a waste of energy! We all have to learn to settle down and look at the situation objectively. It's hard, but the only solution is to forgive the offender.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thanks, Charito1962. As I share in another hub, God gave us the emotion of anger for a purpose - to motivate us to correct the situation that caused the anger. But whether that correction happens or not (it usually takes cooperation from others, who may choose not to cooperate) we still ultimately have to forgive. And you're so right - it can be very hard to do!


Danny Cabaniss profile image

Danny Cabaniss 16 months ago from Shawnee, Oklahoma

Excellent! Such wisdom! Thank you so much for writing something so practical!


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 15 months ago from Mechanicsburg, PA Author

Thank you much, Danny. I appreciate that.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working