“Anyone can become angry-that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way-that is not easy.” –Aristotle (The Nichomachean Ethics)
I should never allow myself to become angry.
Anger can become a sin. I often get angry and that’s okay.
The more godly I become, the less often I’ll become angry.
Redheads have a genetic predisposition toward anger.
When I’m angry, it’s okay to spew on just anyone.
Which of these statements are true or false? It is false to believe that I should never become angry. First of all, it’s impossible never to become angry. With an extreme amount of self-control, we may get to where we don’t express our anger (at least not overtly), but it’s impossible never to get angry and it’s not good to try to suppress anger.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin,” so although anger isnot initially sinful, it can become sin if it is not properly expressed and dealt with. Unresolved anger can also digress to more series stages, like a malignant cancer. If not properly dealt with, it can mutate to rage, bitterness and hatred.
It is false to justify frequent anger outbursts. James writes: “Everyone should be…slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) “Love is not easily angered.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) “The lord is slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8) Although it is acceptable to get angry, it should not be the norm. Anger should be the exception, not the rule.
In order to minimize feelings of anger, it often helps to learn to differentiate between major and minor issues and leqarn not to overreact to minor ones. There’s a difference between getting angry over minor issues that are just a part of day-to-day living and significant hurts. To the extent that we allow God to develop gentleness and patience in our lives, much of the anger caused by being frustrated or inconvenienced will subside. No level of spirituality will ever eliminate anger. God feels and expresses anger, and He wants us to handle it well.
When we’re angry, it’s important that we not arbitrarily take it out on whoever happens to be around us at the time. Ironically and painfully, the recipients of our anger are often those closest to us.
Here are a few key suggestions on how to properly handle anger.
- Realize that anger comes from hurt. Identify the hurt and process it with God and a trusted friend.
- Seek to understand what happened and why it happened. Get all the details. We may be angry about a situation for which we have partial or inaccurate information. In this case, getting all the facts may allay the anger. Also try to understand why something happened because, while it won’t heal the hurt, it may help to relieve the angry feelings.
- Properly express your anger to those involved in the situation as well as to someone who is uninvolved. Speak the truth in love. You can require another person to give account of their actions. Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault.” Help develop sensitivity in those involved. When you share with someone who was not involved, they may be able to offer an objective perspective, help give you understanding, remove your aloneness and comfort you. But don’t just find someone who will agree with you and take up your offense. Share with only one or two people at most.
“Speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) Be approachable, humble and genuinely forgive the offender.
Ferguson, David and McMinn, Don. From "Emotional Fitness: Developing a Wholesome Heart," pp. 63-60