This week’s quote is short and to the point:
You choose your own thoughts and emotions,
therefore, no-one can make you angry unless you let them.
What is anger? Depending on the dictionary you read, anger is basically defined as ‘a strong feeling of displeasure and hostility aroused by a wrong…” Anger is a normal emotion, and something that we all experience. However, it is also an important thing to handle correctly. Anger has been the cause of death, destruction, degraded relationships and friendships, wars – and the list goes on.
Since anger is a ‘feeling,’ it is an emotion – and is therefore something we can control. No one can ‘make’ us angry, just as no one can ‘make’ us love, hate, or become jealous.
We allow those feelings into our lives based, in large part, on the actions of others. We cannot control the actions or behaviors of others. However, we are 100% in control of how we respond to them.
We All Struggle
We all struggle with anger in some way. Like all emotions, anger in and of itself is not bad. It’s what we choose to do with our anger. How do we choose to respond? Do we fly off the handle? Do we yell and scream and get violent? Or, do we examine the cause of our anger, decide what’s really important, and respond in a measured and appropriate way?
The first thing we need to do is “own” our anger. It’s our emotion, and the response is ours alone. We must accept responsibility for our responses and quit shifting the blame to others. We do have to acknowledge the feelings, though.
An appropriate, thoughtful, measured response is healthy. When we don’t acknowledge and deal with our anger – when we try to suppress it and keep it bottled up – it can become very unhealthy. We become doormats, letting others walk all over us. Keep in mind, we must own this – we gave our control and power away. Or, worse yet, we let it build to a point where we literally explode – often with disastrous results. Our response to the given situation is completely inappropriate, we cause hurt feelings, we may even injure others or ourselves in the process.
What Does The Bible Say?
The Bible gives many examples of people getting angry. Moses got angry with the people when they rejected God and returned to making idols. Jesus got angry when he saw the synagogue had been turned into a marketplace. Both Moses and Jesus reacted very strongly – exhibiting what we call “righteous anger” – acting in the defense of others. Moses was angry at the people for denying God and disobeying His commandments. Jesus was angry at the religious leaders, the Pharisees, because they were exploiting their faith – turning the synagogue into a self-serving marketplace rather that a place to bring people closer to God.
The Bible cautions us, though. In Proverbs we are taught:
- Don’t say ‘I’ll get you back for this’ (20:22)
- Fools give in to anger, the wise bring about calm (29:11)
- Gentle answers turn away anger, harsh words stir it up (15:1)
- When we are quick tempered we act foolishly (14:17)
What Are We To Do?
We know it’s possible to control our anger because we’ve all done it. Think of the times everything has just gone wrong…you’ve had a bad day at the office, you come home, the kids are fighting, you trip over the toys, you burn dinner, and you just ‘lose it’ – you start yelling at the kids, threatening the kids and even the dog, throwing the pots in the sink, and the phone rings. It’s your child’s teacher and all of a sudden you’re as calm and as nice as can be.
We can all think of times when we were ‘losing it’ and instantaneously calmed down. Obviously, anger is something that can be controlled, when we choose to. But, anger doesn’t simply go away overnight. Especially if we have a habit of reacting inappropriately – yelling, swearing, flipping people off, even getting violent. It takes prayer. And sometimes, a lot of it. We must think about the situation, and the reason for our anger, and choose the appropriate response.
We can all get angry at things like injustice – human trafficking, drug trafficking, harming children, senseless acts of violence and murder, etc. But, we choose to respond in a lawful, peaceful, appropriate manner – writing letters to our civic leaders, volunteering with social organizations, forming neighborhood watches, etc.
When we’re faced with individual, personal situations, we can give thought to what’s really going on – stop, take a breath, and think. Don’t get caught up in verbal one-upsmanship. Choose to remain calm, and respond in a kind and pleasant manner. Is it easy? No. Is it what God wants us to do? Yes.
New Testament Advice
Luke says if someone sins against us, rebuke them (talk to them), and if they’re sorry, forgive them – even if they sin against you seven times in a day, and they ask forgiveness seven times, we must forgive them.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says we are not to let the sun go down while we are still angry, but he also says not to let unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only that which is helpful for building others up. He also says to speak to each other in love, get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and every form of malice. We are to kind, compassionate, and forgiving.
And James sums it all up: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
- Proverbs 20:22
- Proverbs 29:11
- Proverbs 15:1
- Proverbs 14:17
- Luke 17:3-4
- Ephesians 4:25-27, & 29
- Ephesians 4:15
- Ephesians 4:31-32
- James 1:19-20
No one can make us angry – anger is a response to a given situation. It’s up to us how we choose to respond. Again, is it easy? No. But, through studying Scripture, and through thoughtful prayer, we can learn to control our anger.
Many of you know that I am a Reiki Master/Teacher. The very first Reiki Principle is a simple, one line mantra that we can all use in our daily prayer. I simply add “Lord” to the beginning of the statement and it becomes: “Lord, just for today, I will let go of anger.”
Join the Discussion
Feel free to share your thoughts and comments and, if this message resonates with you, feel free to share it!