Ps 103:8, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Our Lord feels anger, but He does not let this feeling change His love for us, nor does He let it affect His behavior, Eph 4:26-27, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” The devil uses our anger to lead us away from God, Eccl 7:9, “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” Anger has a place, but it should never rest in our bosom, and it should never lead us away from God.
So, what exactly is anger, and how does the devil use it? Merriam-Webster defines anger as: “a strong feeling of displeasure.” So, anger is a feeling of displeasure toward something we have experienced. Anger is not a problem it is a warning light. When the warning light goes on, we know something is bothering us and we should begin the process of dealing with the problem. Why do we feel anger? Is it because we didn’t get our way? Or, we couldn’t control every situation? Overcoming our need to control things requires humility, Jam 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” The proud do not want to know God, and they do not want to listen to His advice, Prov 11:2, “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” When we sow anger we reap the results the devil has devised for us; yelling, rage, lost tempers, swearing, arguments, lashing out, slamming doors, becoming silent, crying, stomping, swearing, red faces, high blood pressure, aggressive behavior, displays of bigotry, and the resulting fact that other people try to avoid us, Gal 6:7-8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
The proud allow the devil to use their anger to bully and belittle others, but God calls us to the opposite response, He asks us to build up others, 1 Thes 5:11, 14, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do...Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” When we provoke others to feel anger, we are sinning against our own soul, Prov 20:2, “The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.” When we measure our words before we speak we protect our souls, Prov 21:23, “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” God’s response is merciful and gracious, Prov 15:18, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”
Trying to control our anger is a mistake; it only leads to suppressing our feelings rather than dealing with the root problem. Eventually, these suppressed feelings will explode into an uncontrolled response. We witness this every day in our society in the form of road rage, shootings, bullying, and other similar responses. If you read the comments on Facebook to our weekly blogs, you will witness examples of this behavior, as a few people try to bully believers into denying the existence of God. God calls us to a different response, 2 Tim 2:24, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,” When we are patient, we feel the anger and calmly look for a solution to the problem which brought us the feeling.
If our anger lasts more than a few minutes, it drains our energy, limits our potential, affects our ability to focus on important matters, and it ruins relationships. Anger demands a conclusion, and the best conclusion is forgiveness, Prov 19:11, “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” Forgiveness recognizes that we are imperfect, we all make mistakes, and we want God to forgive us, so we must forgive others, Col 3:13, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” God has told us how many times we are to forgive others, Matt 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” God’s love demands unlimited forgiveness.
Forgiving others is important, however, we must also recognize the fact we might have had a part in the event that led to our anger, so we need to apologize when appropriate, Jam 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Understanding our part in an anger-producing event is a very important step, Lk 6:37, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”
When we understand that the feeling of displeasure is anger, we can begin to use God’s Word to light the way to reason with our displeasure and discover better responses, Heb 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
God’s way is the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” When we follow God’s way, all things work together for good, eventually, Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Anger has a small part to play in our learning how to use the fruit of the Spirit to resolve our perceived problems, and that part is recognizing we need do something to resolve the root of our problems, rather than allowing it to lead us to unfruitful responses and away from God.
God is always faithful, and His Word will always lead us to solutions and His peace, if we will first believe, Rom 10:9-11, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” We can learn to use our feelings of anger to lead us to humility and repentance if we follow God’s way for our lives.
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