Anger | Trapped
Monday— But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Colossians 3:8
Berta peered over her bifocals at the teenagers pouring into the church for youth night. “Hmpf!” she said to Lolly. “In my day young men pulled up their pants and young ladies did not have tattoos. Dreadful! Makes me mad to see them coming into the house of the Lord looking like that.” Lolly lifted her chin. “Gracious me! No wonder the world is doing to hell in a hand basket. Oh, by the way, I took your advice and stopped speaking to the ladies in our coffee circle. If they’re not going to invite me to the luncheon, I’m adding them to my list of enemies. What about you?” Berta nodded. “I hate those old biddies. Good riddance.”
What’s the problem here? Berta and Lolly were quick to criticize other people, but ignored their own sinful anger. It is interesting that in this list of sins Christians must avoid, anger is listed first. Why is it first? Maybe because it’s easily excused. We justify our anger because it feels righteous to us, but Paul says, “Think again.” Anger is just an emotion, neither good nor bad in itself. But what we do with our anger determines whether it will help or harm. Good anger motivates us to solve problems or defend someone else. But the anger in this verse is not that kind. Sinful anger is destructive, hate-filled, proud, and divisive. We’re seeing a lot of this kind of anger in our world. It masquerades as social justice, national pride, or political fervor. But prideful, hate-filled anger does not belong among God’s people. Now is the time to get rid of it.
Final Thought: Evaluate your own sources of anger. Is your anger motivating you solve a problem or is it sinful?
Prayer: Father, I have anger about things that have happened and are happening. But show me how you see it. Is it harming me, other people, or my witness as a Christian? Am I angry at people you want me to love? I’m ready to get rid of it. Amen.
Tuesday— Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. Psalm 37:8
“I’ve had it!” Barney roared. “Those durn kids have backed over my tulips for the last time!” He waved his shovel in the air and Lester recoiled. “Whoa, hold on there, neighbor. I don’t think the Harris kid did it on purpose. He’s just learning how to drive.” Barney’s face was still beet red. “I don’t care! He should be more careful and I’m gonna teach him a lesson.” He pulled out his pocketknife and headed toward the Harris’s back tire which rested on a squashed tulip. Lester leaped the hedge and intercepted his furious friend. “Hey, its not worth puncturing a tire…” But Barney shoved him aside and kept going.
Is Barney solving a problem with his anger or is he only making matters worse? Uncontrolled anger does not help anyone, especially the heart that produces it. Anger is like acid that eats away at the lining of our souls. It lies by telling us that we are most powerful when we’re furious, but the truth is that we are weakest when we are controlled by anger. Fury shuts off the rational side of our brains and locks us into fight-or-flight mode where our only goal is self-protection. Barney’s anger was about to turn a dead flower into a lawsuit and a hostile neighborhood. Controlled by rage, he could no longer make sensible decisions. Neither can we. That’s why this verse tells us to calm down before we do something we deeply regret.
Final Thought: What foolish decisions have you made in anger? What if you repented and decided not to let anger win?
Prayer: Father, how big a part does anger play in my life and decisions? Am I holding on to things you want me to let go of?
I want to make decisions guided by wisdom and your Holy Spirit. Anger doesn’t get a vote. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people. Proverbs 22:24
Carl left his daughter’s kindergarten play and headed toward the crowd assembling across the street. “…and we’re not gonna take it anymore!” screamed a green-haired man at a makeshift podium. Carl’s smile faded and his heart pounded harder. The joy of the last hour evaporated as he watched the roaring crowd punch the air with their fists. His blood began to pound in his ears. “Death to the enemy!” shouted the man. “They’re taking over our country and we won’t stand for it!” A buffalo of a man shouldered his way past Carl shouting, “No we won’t! Gimme one of ‘em. I’ll show ‘em!” Carl’s lips tightened and heat rushed to his face. They were right. He wasn’t going to take it anymore either. “I’m in!” he shouted, his own fist raised high.
Anger is as contagious as COVID-19 and equally deadly. When we are around angry people, their anger rubs off on us. TV and the internet don’t practice social distancing. They sneeze their vicious anger germs right into our living rooms. Angry people make puppets out of us, jerking our strings anytime they want to. They’ve created buzzwords that trigger a response whether we realize it or not. Consider a few of those words and note what happens to your blood pressure: Trump. Liberals. Socialists. Conservatives. Racism. Masks. Muslims. One of those is likely a trigger for your own anger. Consider the news outlets, music, commentators, and people around you. Do they fuel your anger? Are you ignoring the wisdom of this verse?
Final Thought: Evaluate your level of anger on a daily basis. What are you doing that continues to fuel it?
Prayer: Father, this culture is enraged about everything and it has rubbed off on me. I get heated up over some issues and then add fuel to the blaze. But that isn’t helping. Show me how to apply this verse to my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:6
“All men are dogs.” “Women are shallow.” “I’ll never speak to him again.” “I hate those kinds of people.” What do each of those statements have in common? They are fueled by anger. Someone has had a bad experience but instead of processing it in a healthy way, they let anger take over. God warns us about that, even setting a timeline for our anger. Sundown. We can blow off steam, fix the problem, vent to our besties, but then get over it. When we let anger simmer, it takes over our lives. Anger colors everything we see. It distorts perspectives, ruins relationships, and creates physical ailments. But how do we get over it?
God’s solution for shedding the rage-virus before bedtime is…forgiveness. Stop! Don’t skip this part just because you don’t like that word. It might not be what you think it is. Forgiveness doesn’t let offenders off the hook; forgiveness lets YOU off the hook. After all, you’re the one with the migraine, stomach pains, and clenched jaw—not the one who wronged you. So God wants us to transfer those hurts and wrongs to His account. He can handle them; we can’t. If we can’t resolve the problem before bedtime, it’s time to shift into second gear and dump them on Jesus. He knows how hurt we are, but He’d like to take that hurt and transform it into a strength if we will let go of it. He won’t do that as long as we’re clinging to it. Forgiveness is the art of releasing ourselves from the control of someone who wronged us. Forgiveness frees us from the strangling noose of anger.
Final Thought: Make a list of those who have wronged you and never made it right. Ask God to help you start forgiving.
Prayer: Lord, this is hard. You know the hurts of my past. But they don’t have to keep hurting me unless I allow it. My anger about it is controlling me instead of your Holy Spirit and that’s wrong. So help me as I begin breaking free of anger. Amen
Friday— …for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:20
-“I’m gonna whip your butt!” shrieked the Wal-Mart mom. “Why can’t you behave! You’re such a turd, just like your dad!”
-“I’ll get even with them,” growled Rex. “They had no right. I don’t know when, I don’t know where, but I’m gonna get ‘em.”
-“Men have hurt me all my life,” Shelli muttered. “So I’m gonna seduce anyone I want and make them pay. Now I’m in charge.”
In each situation, those people had reasons for their anger. But their responses to that anger led to even deeper sin. A mother may think she is earning her child’s respect by screaming at him. But she is not producing happy obedience, only fearful rebellion. A man may feel he was wronged, but it is not up to him to even the score. God says that revenge is His department (Heb. 10:30). And a woman who was violated by men will not heal by engaging in even more sexual sin. God does not need our angry responses to accomplish what He wants to do in our lives. We are not helping Him by seeking revenge, threatening people, or sinning ourselves to get even. Sinful anger is not the path to righting wrongs; anger is actually in God’s way. His method of righting wrongs looks quite different from ours, but He cannot work in our situation if we keep getting in His way. Sin never produces righteous results. And anger does not produce respect, love, or equality. It only breeds more anger.
Final Thought: When have you believed that your anger was producing righteous responses? What do you think now?
Prayer: Father, I have tried to use anger to achieve what you wanted, but I was only in your way. Help me learn to bring you my hurts and scars and trust you to right the wrongs. Help me keep my anger out of your way. In Jesus’ name, amen.