People are like pressure cookers. When anger is stuffed inside, pressure increases and builds within us. With the pain of each new offense – if not dealt with – it is either vented in little bursts, or it builds up until it erupts like a volcano. Either way, venting anger solidifies a pattern of losing self-control.
Maybe you don’t struggle with anger, but you certainly know someone who does. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” That’s why millions of people walk around with smiles on their faces, but just under the surface, anger is waiting to explode. It rests in them, causing them trouble with things most people would hardly even notice. When they get mad, their reaction isn’t proportionate to the size of the issue. They aren’t reacting to the current situation, but to an accumulation of unresolved anger.
God makes it clear that anger can be defeated. Colossians 3:8 tells us, “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” He certainly would not tell you to put something off without providing the means to do it.
Here are some keys to keep anger from dominating your life.
ADMIT YOUR ANGER
Just like a smoke detector ensures the safety of your family, anger serves as an indicator that something is wrong. But lives are never saved by smoke detectors unless someone acknowledges that the alarm is sounding!
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Notice that it doesn’t say anger is a sin or that it’s wrong to be angry, but it does say you are responsible to deal with anger before it opens the door to evil in your life. Proverbs 14:17 tells us that an angry, quick-tempered person acts foolishly. When you don’t take control of anger, the devil uses it to lead you into sin.
If you grew up around anger, you may have a problem with your temper and not even realize it. If so, you are still responsible for how you handle it. No one makes you respond out of anger; you make the choice to throw things, hit people, swear or say things that hurt people.
Minimizing anger or making excuses for it only perpetuates the problem. You won’t get free until you admit you are angry and take responsibility for your angry actions.
STOP AND THINK
Whenever emotion rises, the ability to think clearly decreases. Nehemiah 5:6 states Nehemiah’s wise response after he had been told of a serious injustice that had taken place against the people. He said, “I became very angry when I heard their outcry and words. After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers…”
Nehemiah was angry, but he kept his anger within bounds. Even when provoked, he chose not to say or do anything in haste. Before deciding to rebuke the nobles, he took time to stop and think. He carefully considered what to say, when to say it, and how to proceed so God’s plan of justice could come forth.
You will never end up with God’s best in a situation if you say and do things hastily out of anger. James 1:19-20 says, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” You need to remind yourself to stop and get your emotions out of the way so you can think clearly before making decisions.
ASK GOD FOR HELP
There are many causes of anger including fear, frustration, insecurity and hurt. No matter what’s at the bottom of your anger, you can take it to the Lord and receive His help.
After all, He loves you and wants your relationship with Him to be strong. He wants to be at the center of everything you think, say and do. Even when you are angry, you can choose to ask Him for His help. Jesus said, “Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22) Pray, putting your trust in Him, and He will help you defeat anger.
We need to forgive people as much for our sake as for theirs. Jesus made this very clear when He said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25) Anytime anyone hurts you, no matter how deep the wound, you need to forgive them. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they did, whether they are living or dead, just forgive them.
When you choose to forgive, you’re released on the inside. The ones who offended you may never acknowledge their wrongdoing, but when you forgive them, the anger and wrath in your heart melt away.
WALK IN THE SPIRIT
Even after taking these steps, you can’t just say, “I’m not going to get mad anymore,” and think that will be the end of it. Victory doesn’t come when you stop doing negative things; victory comes when you start doing positive things.
In Galatians 5:20, Paul identifies anger as a work of the flesh.
Fortunately, in verse 16, he gave us the remedy for defeating our fleshly works. “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Simply put, you walk in the Spirit by reading, praying and meditating on the Word of God and then doing what it says.
As you become stronger in your spirit by focusing on the love of God, the things people do will no longer have the same effect on you. When something happens that would normally cause your flesh to respond in anger, your spirit will rise up and you will respond in love!
You don’t have to be dominated by anger. Take action now!
- Admit your anger.
– Stop and think.
– Ask God for help.
– Walk in the Spirit.