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Acting In Anger

Be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go
down upon your wrath: Neither give place
to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every
man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow
to anger: For the anger of man works not
the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

What do you do when you feel like you have been unfairly attacked? How do you react when you feel like your rights are being ignored, and you aren't being given the respect you deserve? Our natural human response is to get angry, usually very angry. Anger is defined as a sudden heating of the blood which floods the face with color, and makes one's speech forcible, and actions swift and sure. We may feel like our anger is justified; we may feel that we are we are merely defending ourselves from an attack against us, or defending what we see as our rights. Once we begin feeling that our anger is justified, it is then only a tiny step to retaliation. And that is where we begin to go wrong. We have to understand that acting in anger will almost always lead us to sin.

The Bible refers to the heart as the seat of all our feelings and emotions, and tells us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) Our hearts are rarely more deceitful than when we feel like we are only vindicating ourselves, or defending ourselves. Emotions are ever-changing: what we overlook one time may anger us outrageously the next. What one person does may be tolerated, but another person doing the same thing enrages us. Sometimes we think our anger is justified, sometimes we just over-react. Sometimes we don't even know ourselves why we react the way we do to certain provocations. But be sure to understand this: our human hearts are desperately wicked, and our emotions are ever-changing. Acting out of strong emotions - any kind of strong emotion -will invariably lead us to sin.

Ephesians 4: 26 tells us be angry and do not sin. Anger is a God- given emotion, and proper and appropriate anger serves a God-given purpose. Proper and appropriate anger is centered around sin, unrighteousness and injustice. Appropriate anger is always directed toward the action, not the actor. In other words, we are to "hate the sin, but love the sinner. Just as Jesus did. However, there are several wrong ways we express anger:

  • When we overreact, or when our anger is neither justified nor warranted.
  • When there is no commitment to resolution; we're just angry for the sake of being angry, and would rather remain angry than work toward a solution.
  • When our anger is a show or just venting; allowing our uncontrolled emotions to carelessly spew out.
  • When we bring up the past or use anger is a weapon or method of control.
  • When we go to the extremes of either a skunk or turtle: a skunk sprays anger out all over everyone. A turtle draws into his shell.
Anger only breeds more anger. It breeds more anger in ourselves: the longer we remain angry, the more things we find to be angry about. It just grows and grows. And it breeds anger in others. Seldom do others respond to our anger without becoming angry themselves. Again, it just contnues to grow and spread it's poison.

“Neither give place to the devil.” We must understand that anger is a tool the devil uses against us, to lead us into sin. These “feelings” of being unjustly attacked, feelings of being disrespected, or of our rights being abused in some manner, are often temptations of the devil. Satan wants us to be filled with wrath, bitterness, and resentment. He feeds these feelings, urging us to act out of malice and self-justification, knowing that if we do, our actions will not demonstrate the righteousness of God in our lives. Inappropriate anger gives Satan power to act in our lives. He uses it to divide separate and conquer. A house divided against itself cannot stand. By feeding and encouraging our uncontrolled anger, the enemy divides and separates marriages, homes, families, and relationship with God. That's another big contrast between Satan and Jesus: Satan separates, Christ reunites.

“Too many Christians become bitter and angry in the conflict.
If we descend into hatefulness, we have already lost the battle ...
We must cooperate with God in turning what was meant for evil
into a greater good within us. This is why we bless those who
would curse us: It is not only for their sake but to preserve
our own soul from its natural response toward hatred.”
-Francis Frangipane

The bottom line is this: If we don't manage anger it will manage us, and it is always better to manage anger before you express it rather than after. Acting in anger never helps. As time passes, the reason for your anger will fade. But the things you do in anger will stay with you forever as regrets. We must not yield to the suggestions and temptations of Satan; instead, let us learn to practice the righteousness of God.


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