James 1:19-20 – “So then, my beloved brethren, 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.” NKJV
Have you ever witnessed someone who was so angry that they were out of control? Have you been that someone?
One morning, as I was entering the school building, a fight broke out. It was pretty intense as kids were shouting, using profanity, and dodging in and out of the ruckus. My first thought was, “It’s too early in the morning for this!” I wish that I can say that this was abnormal, but the harsh reality of it is, over the 16 years that I have been in education, it has been way too common.
So much anger in the world today. Unfortunately, many of our kids see and hear so much in their homes, in their environments, and even on television that fills them with anger. What’s that about?
Well, I’m not a psychologist, and I can’t say for sure, but here are some reasons anger is prevalent in our society:
- Stress – from many avenues
- Family problems – too many to name
- Financial woes- joblessness, debt, poverty, homelessness
- Illness – self or loved one
While each of these things are real, we have a word from the word about how to handle anger: we are to be slow to anger. James doesn’t leave us hanging with just telling us to be slow to anger. He tells us that this anger doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.
I’m not writing to the unsaved. I am writing to the person who I believe is a Christian; a Bible believing, Bible toting, Bible quoting Christian, dealing with uncontrolled anger.
There are times when we feel our anger is justified. Ask Esau. He was the firstborn of Isaac. His twin, Jacob was younger. As they grew, Esau had the heart of his father, and Jacob had the heart of his mother. Esau was casual about everything, and one day he made a trade with his brother: Esau promised his birthright to Jacob if Jacob would just give him something to eat. Later on, when Isaac was ready to pass the blessing on to Esau, Jacob stole it. (But did he really? After all, Esau had given it to him). This angered Esau so much that he promised to kill his brother! The Bible even goes so far as to say that Esau comforted himself with these thoughts! What’s that about? He was so angry that he wanted to kill his brother, and this brought him comfort? That’s bizarre! Yet, he felt justified in his anger! But nothing righteous will come from this type of venting of our anger.
The Bible has a lot to say about anger. For example:
Romans 12:19,21 – Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. NKJV
This is a tough truth to live by when you have been deeply hurt. I know that, and more importantly, God knows that. But look at the promise in this verse: vengeance belongs to the Lord and He will repay! You may not see it happen, but I can promise you this, if you will trust God with your anger, He’s got your back!
Here’s another truth:
Psalm 37:8 – “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret— it only causes harm. NKJV
Ain’t that the truth! Harm to your physical body, harm to your mental state, harm in your relationships, harm at your job, and the list goes on. I knew someone who was so angry, that person couldn’t keep a job. Several someones. Harm!
This is what I try to teach my students about anger. If it isn’t dealt with, in a positive way, it will cause more harm than good. Fighting leads to suspension. Every single time! Angry outbursts lead to loss. Loss of time in school, loss of learning, loss of trust, loss in relationships, just so much loss. In the end, was it really worth it?
People are incarcerated today because they didn’t control their anger. People are in the grave because they never dealt with their anger. And just because we are saved, doesn’t mean that we won’t experience these exact same results if we persist in our anger.
God offers this solution to your anger issues:
Matthew 6:14 – “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” NKJV
If you are going to live free of anger, you are going to have to learn to forgive. Forgiveness is more freeing than you think. It doesn’t let the person get away with anything, because God is a righteous judge. But it does release you from the prison of all that pent up, negative emotion called anger.
Proverbs 19:11 – The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression. NKJV
Sometimes, we just have to learn to overlook the things that make us angry. It isn’t easy. It very well may be impossible for you to accomplish, but not with God. With God, all things are possible! Even being free of anger.
When Jacob returned home many years later, He asked God to deliver him from Esau’s anger. And guess what happened? You already know! God did just that! But let’s look from Esau’s point of view. He wanted to kill Jacob the last time he saw him. But at some point, he obviously let that anger go. When he saw Jacob, Jacob was bowing before him in humility. He rushed to his brother and embraced him. The rest is history!
Even perceived justification of anger can be released. God wants us to be whole before Him. He knows that nothing righteous will come of it. He knows the damage of anger and doesn’t want us to go through that. If you are struggling with anger, for any reason, God has you reading this blog, so that you might be free. Go ahead! Release the anger, offer forgiveness, and receive the forgiveness and peace of God that has been waiting for you. Wonderful Jesus!