As a Christian how do you handle anger? We live in an angry world…be it road rage, resentment, violence or whatever. If you aren’t angry, you probably know someone who is—someone who gets on a topic every time you talk with them and ends up spitting nails about whatever burr is under their saddle. Anger is real! Is it a sin to be angry? The simple answer is “no,” but anger can rapidly become unproductive as well as destructive and lead to sin. I think you can agree that anger has led to a great deal of sin in this world. In Ephesians Paul writes that you are not to sin because of your anger. In other words, don’t say or do anything crazy, inappropriate, or ungodly. Do not go to bed angry. Therefore, anger should be dealt with and resolved quickly, otherwise bitterness will take hold of your heart. Harboring anger gives the devil a way to enter your heart and mind, giving him a foothold, which (in Greek) means a room or a place. Unresolved anger can hurt you, harm the people you love and compromise your witness. So how do you handle anger?
Scriptures – Ephesians 4:26-27; Matthew 21:12-14; Luke 6:27-28; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Colossians 2:14-15; Ephesians 6:12
Verse – “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ep 4:26-27) Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves.’” (Mt 21:12-13) The blind and those who could not walk came to Jesus in the house of God and He healed them. (Mt 21:14) But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Lk 6:27-28)
Thought – Jesus felt all the emotions that we feel, including anger. How did he handle his anger? One incident is recorded by Matthew. Jesus became angry when he went to the temple and saw the money changers ripping off the people who had come to make sacrifices. The price of a sacrifice was not even affordable for some of the people, keeping them from entering and participating in worship. Jesus turned over the tables and chairs of the money changers and drove them out of the temple. He then began ministering to those who were in need, healing the blind and the lame. Jesus’ anger was provoked because people were being mistreated, ripped off, and kept from the temple. He wasn’t angry because of any personal wrong that was done to him. If you look at all the offenses that Jesus’ suffered, from betrayal, to slander, to physical abuse, he never responded in anger. (1) His anger was in defense of others, who were hurting. (2) His anger involved flipping tables, not people. He didn’t hit anyone or abuse anyone. (3) Jesus’ anger compelled him to minister to those in need, he served the hurting, the marginalized. In order to process your anger in a God-honoring way, you must learn not to take things personally. As it says in Ephesians 6, we aren’t fighting against humans. The devil wants to make you mad and destroy you with your own anger. Don’t allow the devil to have a foothold. Use your anger to move you to constructive and positive action. Help those in need, those who have no voice; allow God to use you to make a difference.
Questions – Are you carrying bitterness and anger because of some real or perceived wrong done to you? What can you do to get rid of it? How do you keep from harboring anger? What effects have you seen or experienced because of anger? How does anger poison the container?
Response – If you are harboring anger, define it, and figure out how to overcome it. You may need to talk with the person your anger is directed toward and forgive them. Pray and ask God to help you move on. Remember how much grace God has extended to you. Serve someone in need. Use your energy in a productive way.
Prayer – Lord, keep my heart from anger and bitterness. May I love you first and love my neighbor as you desire. Help me to bless those who are hurting. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.