Anger Management: God's Way
Getting Angry vs. Staying Angry
What does God tell us about anger? Is it a sin to be angry? The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” That says to me that God knows we will feel anger, so anger in and of itself is not sin. However, anger is something that must be dealt with. Most of time when you are angry, the anger doesn’t just go away by itself—you have to put it away. Even when the person or thing that made you angry is no longer around, the anger can still linger. And unless you learn how to put anger away, it can turn into sin.
The scripture says you can be angry and not sin. It tells us that we are not to allow the sun to go down on our anger by taking it to bed with us, or by internalizing it—instead of putting it away through prayer and forgiveness. I believe that when you hold anger inside your heart indefinitely, it demonstrates, clearly, a lack of forgiveness that is hiding in your heart. The Bible teaches that if we don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us. Therefore, holding on to anger separates you from God, and being separated from God leaves you alone—spiritually, to fight your anger demons by yourself. Unless you invite God back into your spirit, the anger dwelling inside of you will claim its own victory in your life.
Everyone gets angry about something at some time or other. That’s because we’re all human, and we all come in contact with other people most of the days of our lives. And most of the time when anger invades our spirit, it is through interactions with other people. Interaction with others, therefore, is often the catalyst or cause of our anger. Still, it is always risky to allow anger to surface. It’s risky because too often the anger is allowed to take on a life force of its own. A little anger fuels a little more, and a little more fuels a little more, and so on, and so on. Then, instead of feeling a little anger, you’re feeling a of lot anger, and before you know it, it’s out of control. And people who had little or nothing to do with causing the anger—who may not even know why you are angry—often become targets of it.
Beware of Thoughts of Anger-Related Vengeance
The Bible tells us in no uncertain words that God wants us all to be kind to those who show meanness towards us. He wants us to do all we can to live in peace with others, understanding that it is His place, not ours, to avenge wrong that is perpetrated against us. This message is delivered clearly in Romans 12:17-21, where it is written:
“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Learn to "Let go and let God." Vengeance belongs to him, but you get to share in the victory too, because the word of God teaches that taking control of wrath delivers great benefits. The first benefit is that you help to keep the peace, which is in everyone’s best interest. Next, since God says if your enemy is hungry you should feed him, and if he’s thirsty you should give him water, controlling anger presents you with opportunities to show kindness towards someone who probably needs it desperately. And finally, the very acts of kindness that you show toward an enemy can lead him or her to feel remorseful about mean-spirited or wrong actions—as he or she should feel.
The Scripture says “in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” That means it is actually going to “helpfully hurt” the perpetrator to be treated with kindness by those he or she has mistreated. On top of all that, God promises that He will “repay” the perpetrators. His promise is restated inIsaiah 35:4 which says: “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.”
Anger held inside, that is not prayed away and forgiven, can cause destructive thoughts, destructive behavior, and/or destructive results. When you carry anger around like a weight, it bears down on every relationship you have, and on everything you do. When you're seething inside with anger, you run the risk of allowing it to boil over into other aspects of your life.
For example, let’s say you’re fuming because a supervisor gave an unfair and undeserved review of your work, when you were hoping for a promotion. Let’s say the supervisor is wrong, and you’re absolutely right. Let’s say the supervisor had an ulterior motive in telling a lie about your work performance. In a situation like this, it’s easy to lose control of your anger. When you’re literally consumed with anger, it’s nearly impossible to think about constructive things to do in the moment of anger.
Think about it. In the situation I described, what would you be more likely to do? Would you be more inclined to rant and rave to anyone who will listen, badmouthing your supervisor? If you take this approach, while you may be right about everything you say, few people are likely to think well of you. In fact, using this approach, you would probably do yourself more harm than good. Then what should you or anyone in such a situation do? What does the Bible say would be the best way to handle this? Ephesians 4:31 says you should: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
While it is expected that anyone will sometimes feel anger, it is not good to allow your anger to cause you to lash out in bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking or with any other form of malice. God knows unresolved anger can cause emotional, “knee-jerk” reactions. Since the tendency for such reactions naturally comes along with anger, He wants us to be prepared to counter them.
There's Something You Can Do
Make sure you know the real cause of your anger. You cannot let go of it until you know, specifically, what is causing it. You need to identify if it is caused by something you can change, or something you cannot change. If you find it to be something you can change, you should ask God to guide you in making the changes you need to make. If it is something you cannot change, you should ask God to help you learn to be content and to accept whatever it is that you must accept. As the famous “Serenity Prayer” teaches, you ask God to help you must ask God for the serenity to accept things you can’t change, the courage to change the things you can change, and the wisdom to know the difference between those things you can and those you cannot.
Find someone to talk to about your anger. Sometimes, all it takes to get over anger is to tell someone about it. It’s best to talk about it—to vent—with people who know you, and preferably, with someone who both knows and loves you, like a long-time good friend. A sister, a brother, or some other relative you’re close to is probably most likely to understand. You need to know your venting is being done in complete confidence, and that the person who listens will be supportive, desiring only to help you feel better. God works through people. Ask Him to guide you to the right person to talk to. And remember that you can always talk to God, out loud, in the privacy of your own home. He’ll hear you, and you’ll feel better for having heard your own voice speaking to a living, loving God. God can wrap you in His security and comfort, and only He can promise you that no matter what happens in the world, you will be safe in Him.