“Stupid idiot! This person doesn’t know how to drive! Get out of the way!” I yelled as I tried to maneuver the traffic jam on the S-Curve in Grand Rapids; all while my wife and daughter sat listening to me have my selfish outburst, like a baby without a bottle. What was I doing? Why was I so mad at this driver? I had to stop and check myself and apologize to my family. I should not be acting like this. We live in a very angry world. Road rage … suicide bombings … random shootings … bullies terrorize their victims online and in schools … acts of violence fill the news every day. The reality is that everyone has to deal with anger. Anger is powerful – an emotional warning that something is wrong. Something has changed, or doesn’t go how we want it to go, and we don’t like it! If we let anger control us, it begins to chip away at the character and integrity we work so hard to create – it’s counter-intuitive.
Our first response to conflict is often not a response at all … but a reaction. We jump in with a brutal rebuttal or a thoughtless correction – which is like pouring gasoline on a fire. An explosion is bound to happen. Our first action should be to stop and think instead of rushing to respond in a way that could escalate tensions or provoke an offensive response from others. Listen to the other person before responding. The longer I work with people the more I realize that there is always a reason for their behavior. Hurt people – hurt people. When you are angry with someone, ask yourself why. Think back to what led up to the conflict. Was it something someone said to you? Has a past problem triggered your present anger? Give yourself time to consider why you are upset and what you should do to handle it in a way that pleases God.
The challenge is to deal with anger in the right way. Anger itself is not sin. We just have to learn to express anger in the right way. Mishandled anger is destructive, but anger that is handled correctly can become a tool for good, as Jesus himself got angry and drove the money changers out of the temple. Righteous anger can help right a wrong or correct an injustice. Excerpts taken from: ‘A plan for Anger Management’, by Mary Southerland.
God’s Word is filled with tips for learning how to handle anger in a healthy and godly way, here are just a few:
James 1:19-20 “Everyone should be slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Psalm 4:4 “In your anger do not sin … search your hearts and be silent.”
Proverbs 25:28 “Like a city whose walls are broken down, is a man who lacks self-control.”
“Dear Lord, help us be men and women of integrity and character by controlling our anger. Help us to be slow to get angry, slow to speak, and give us the self-control control we need. It’s in the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.