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Weekly Devotion with Beckyjohn – DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR ANGER IS TELLING YOU?

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR ANGER IS TELLING YOU?

  • ·Anger and bitterness are two noticeable signs of being focused on self and not trusting God's sovereignty in your life. When you believe that God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him, you can respond to trials with joy instead of anger or bitterness (John C. Broger)
  • To be angry about trifles is mean and childish; to rage and be furious is brutish; and to maintain perpetual wrath is akin to the practice and temper of devils; but to prevent and suppress rising resentment is wise and glorious, is manly and divine (Isaac Watts)
  • We may not be able to prevent other people from being our enemies, but we can prevent ourselves from being enemies toward others (Warren Wiersbe)
  • A man that does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good. Now and then a man should be shaken to the core with indignation over things (Henry Ward Beecher)

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

Anger is one of those basic human emotions that triggers the body‘s ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response.  In addition to the rapidly increasing changes such as caused by coronavirus, are political discourses that tend to corrode respect for people’s worth and at times reaching beyond the level that is justifiable.  By definition, democracy is divisive and polarizing, resulting in a culture that seems to be without heroes and role models. People have to constantly and continually juggle emotions that arouse fear, excitement and anxiety. Realization that many of the truths people cling to depend greatly on their own point of view whose source is not necessarily examined, leaves people adrift in disillusionment, distrust and feeling threatened. Anger is a natural response to perceived threats. There is dire need for ‘human lighthouses’ to give hope and direction to goodness in each other as a people created in God’s image and likeness. That requires the voice of those who have the realization that though the ‘storm is raging’, the Master is in the same boat. Jesus Christ taught and demonstrated that anger is a natural and necessary emotion. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26). That means it is not sin to be angry. It is what one does with the anger that makes the difference.

HOW TO READ AND UNDERSTAND ANGER

Anger emotion is not original – All anger has an object. It does not come out of nowhere. It is a derived emotion which means it is not an original emotion. Anger is a response to something or someone that seems to endanger or block one from something desired or loved. Someone says or does something that makes you feel wronged and so triggers the anger emotion. Anger then is caused by what seem like legitimate desires. Identifying the object of anger is important because it is possible to be angry at what is perceived but may not be real. The sense of being angry but not being able to identify the object of one’s anger leaves a person feeling like there is something missing. As God’s chosen people, the witnesses of His saving grace, it is sin to entertain feelings of anger that are illusory because they are not aligned to what is desired.

 Anger as an idol – Anger emotion is characterized by antagonism toward the person or thing that has wronged or obstructed a person from what one desires. Though desires such as love, fear, hope, longing, respect, control, and so on, can be called natural, they should not override the Christian’s desire to please God. One of the foundational commands, not suggestion, is to love God with one’s heart which means one is to love God with all emotions that one has (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27). Anger that inspires emotions that isolate one from loving God and the neighbor, is leading one to a path of destruction. ‘What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’ (James 4:1-3).  Entertaining anger in one’s thoughts and feelings as if your opinion or efforts aren't appreciated, and a sense of injustice against self, could be an indication that the love of God has been misplaced to self.  

 Unbridled anger can fuel injustice – Though anger is a natural adaptive response to threats, it can twist emotions and cloud decision-making. Unbridled anger can fuel strong emotional reactions of displeasure often leading to plans for revenge and corroding respect.  During the time of election, there are thoughts of unfairness, picking one side and shunning another.  The Christian has to refrain from thoughts that justify one not loving the neighbor. ‘But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44). Anger that gives rise to hatred, an attitude that wishes evil for another, is wrong. Charles Spurgeon says, ‘Do not say, “I cannot help having a bad temper.” Friend, you must help it. Pray to God to help you overcome it at once, for either you must kill it, or it will kill you. You cannot carry a bad temper into heaven’

 HANDLING ANGER WITHOUT ALLOWING IT TO TAKE OCCUPATION.

            Anger is an emotional reaction of displeasure, viewed as the outlet of hurt, that triggers one to fight or flee which are necessary for survival. It is possible to resist the normal impulse at the very many provocations all around.  When the anger emotions are triggered, one has to admit that he or she is angry, examine the object of the emotions and refuse to allow them to settle.  “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 4:25-26).   Since anger is slow-burning resentment, one has to refuse to nurture the feelings. Christians are called to critically and honestly examine the objects of their anger allowing the mind to swell in the fear. Anxiety and all other negative feelings caused by anger may lead to disobedience to Gods word. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’ (Philippians 4:6).  The Christian is to move through the anger to constructive action.

Trust in the God of mercy and justice to handle the object of anger before it stands between you and God. ‘Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19); ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay.’ (Deuteronomy 32:250).  To try and settle the score by entertaining the hateful and vengeful feelings of those one sees as responsible for the ills, is to usurp the power of God. The duty of the Christian is to love, and respect even those who one feels justified to hate.

 Anger is an indicator that something is not right and so how it is handled can lead one to be used by God. The anger that leads to a higher and greater cause should be the Christian’s desire. It is what breeds courage to act and not just seek to survive. Thinking of David angry at Goliath’s humiliation of God’s army led Him to act. His anger was motivated by his love and knowledge of who the Sovereign God is. John Knox is remembered for his prayer ‘Give me Scotland or I die’. If the anger is caused by past mistakes, the way out is to forgive yourself. Accept Christ’s forgiveness and enjoy the freedom he gives. That is an expression of love for his people knowing the saving grace of God. Anger should be examined if it leaves one passive, corroding the individual from within or open and aggressive that leaves others wounded. Such anger cripples a person from being effective as a witness of Jesus Christ. To turn anger to be assertive, the love of God has to be above everything else. Even in times of divisive politics, Jesus Christ is the one who informs one’s politics not politics informing our attitude to Jesus Christ. That means one reorders the politics, career, family, meaning of life around the biblical values, not just fitting Jesus into one’s agenda. Jim Denison asks, ’When you are in heaven, how will you wish you had lived this day on earth?  How are you helping people who could be losing opportunity to have a richer relationship with others and be effective witness of the Lord Jesus Christ because of holding on to anger?

 ‘If we would be angry and not sin, we must be angry at nothing but sin; and we should be more jealous for the glory of God than for any interest or reputation of our own’ (Matthew Henry)

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