This article will be short, snappy and informative. Its intention isn’t to be engaging, but rather to deliver a weighty amount of truth concisely and directly. My hope and prayers are that after reading it you will take time to think, study and pray about anger and take active steps to tackle it where it is apparent in your life of which I am sure it is.
Anger is done by all of you. It’s not a part of you that is sectioned off and hidden. Anger has the ability to completely dominate your thoughts, behaviour, desires and beliefs. To say ‘I was just a bit angry’ is a fallacy in that your whole body, mind and soul was affected even if for a moment and even if on a minor scale.
Anger can burn hot or it can burn cold and can be everything in between. While you may not scream and shout the cold and freezing effects of your anger may burn stronger than the raging and foaming mouth of a lunatic. Anger is intriguing as it affects every single one of us. Even those who deny its reality in their lives. The difference may be the scale with small minor irritations (a frown, on side and large-scale physiological responses (increased heart rate, clenched fists, violent outbursts etc) on the other hand it may be small scale but deep reactions (bitterness, long period thought cycles, re-running the justifying your rightness and highlighting the opposing parties stupidity/foolishness/selfishness/whatever I would never do _____ etc etc.
Anger is body, soul and minds responses to what it feels is wrong. Where one feels no anger, one feels nothing is wrong with the world. It’s for this reason that anger affects us all. We all feel some things are wrong with the world in one way or another. Some of these thoughts and feeling are justified. Others are not. This is why one can feel angry at a traffic jam even when it has nothing to do with them or they are not the cause of it. To be angry is to be human as to be angry is to have a conscience. Our inbuilt nature that processes what is right and what is wrong. However, like the fall, our anger (underpinned by our ‘judgement system’) has become distorted. As such we can get angry at things, we shouldn’t feel anger over (such as traffic jams). This is not to say that we are incapable of being ‘angry’ over the right things, but rather a point of caution that we must be aware of in order to be ‘righteously angry.’ To not be angry is to see nothing wrong with the world which in a fallen world is a crime in itself
God is angry. The best anger is the best love. God’s anger fell on Jesus even though it was meant to fall on you. God’s anger disarms the power of sin in that he shows mercy to us by sending us the power to defeat sin. God’s anger will deliver us from the pain of others sins. His anger will be poured out on those who chose not to repent. God’s anger serves as a reminder to run the good race and fight the good fight.
Christians have the power to process anger like (see notes below) God, resulting in mercy and forgiveness where injustice has occurred and repentance and deeper faith where we recognise our anger has been unrighteously served (Being angry that we haven’t received the level of respect we think we deserve(entitlement), being upset for not getting what we think we deserve (entitlement again) etc)
The Gospel helps us tackle anger. Like all things the Gospel gives us hope in the area of our lives. Our anger can be reformed not because we have the ability to change but because God has the ability to change you.
Christians can do this by A) seeking more grace from the Lord in our anger and B) Taking our anger apart and putting it back together again.
- What is my situation
- How do I react?
- What are my motives?
- What are the consequences?
- What is true?
- How do I turn to God for help?
- How could I respond constructively in this situation?
- What are the consequences of faith and obedience?
The little frustrations are often the hardest cases. Not because they are so hard to get over but because they are so commonplace. Someone being inefficient. Poor phone signal. A hard to discern accent over the phone. Late trains. All these commonplace reasons to be angry often lead to complaining. Major sins are only minor sins grown up. Complaining has the same DNA as rage. Everyday anger is a major problem as it leads us to treat others are subhuman/inefficient/ semi being and by that very attitude, we act like a superhuman. This is what God calls pride. Our everyday anger is often about convenience and ease. These two things often being idols in our lives.
Anger at self is commonplace. Anger at self leads to acting in the role of an implacable God of which you set the standards to meet (and fail) OR the aggrieved victim( I’ve failed MYSELF. I’ve brought shame upon MYSELF. The person I should be is… The person the world should see is…) Questions to dismantle this anger include…
- What ladder are you climbing? (Are you the judge who’s opinion matters most? Do other people serve are judges?)
- Whose ladder are you climbing?
- Who can pick you up when you fall?
Anger at God is understandable but unjustifiable as he is God all the time. That’s all I’ll say on this one but just know you are not alone in this one (Jonah is a textbook example)
For more help…
Passages to study
- The life of Jesus in the Gospel’s
- The book of Kings (Idolatry is exposed and broken down really well)
Books to Read (Personal Recommendations)
- Good & Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation and Bitterness – David Powlison
- How to Change – Paul Tripp
*I deliberated over the use of this word I prayerfully hope you take time to understand what I mean by this. Like God does not mean after regeneration you will process anger perfectly.)