Anger Management: Part 4, How To Handle My Anger

Anger Management: Part 4, How To Handle My Anger

Ephesians 4:26 (NIV) states, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Is it really possible to be angry and not sin? Since this instruction is in the Bible, it must be possible. So how should we handle our anger in a godly way?

In part 2 of this series on Anger Management, I talked about the difference between inappropriate and appropriate anger. Inappropriate anger is when we assume someone has wronged us, but in fact no one has. Appropriate anger is when someone has wronged us or sinned against us. We can easily let go of our inappropriate anger. But how do we handle the appropriate anger? What do we do when someone has sinned against us?

There are several stories in the Bible that give us some help with anger management, but the one I like the best is the story in Genesis about Joseph. What if you were sold into slavery by your family members? What if you were falsely accused of sexual immorality and placed into prison? Would you be angry? I would. How would you handle such anger? Both of these terrible sins happened to Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his jealous and cruel brothers. He was falsely accused of sexual immorality and placed into prison. So if anyone had reason to be angry, Joseph certainly did. People close to him had sinned against him. So what did Joseph do?

If you remember the story about Joseph, God had mercy upon him while he was in prison. Because of his unique ability to interpret dreams, Joseph was released from prison and given the honor of being second in command of Egypt. His job was to store grain for seven years of abundant harvest knowing that it would be followed by seven years of famine. When the famine did occur, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him. He tested and questioned them to find out if they were still the cruel brothers he remembered or if they had changed. He found out that his mean brothers had changed. Eventually, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. Then, Joseph moved the entire family to Egypt where he could care for them with his authority and power. Later, Joseph’s father died and his brothers became afraid of Joseph. Let’s look closer at several ways Joseph handled his anger against the sin of his brothers.

1. Joseph grieved.  Genesis 50:15-17 (NIV) states, When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?”  So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. This was not the first time Joseph cried in response to seeing his brothers again. Rather than keep it all bottled up inside, Joseph cried. All of his hurt and pain came out in tears. So crying and grieving when others have sinned against us is a good thing. It helps us to release the hurt and pain.

2. Joseph refused to seek revenge.  Genesis 50:18-19 (NIV) states, “His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. ‘We are your slaves,’ they said. But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?’” Because of his position and his authority, Joseph could have had his brother’s killed and no one would have questioned him. However, Joseph knew that revenge belonged in God’s hands, not his. Joseph knew that using his anger in the behavior of revenge would be a sin.

3. Joseph confronted the sinful behavior. Genesis 50:20 (NIV) states, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” In Joseph’s story, he did not have the opportunity to confront his brothers until they showed up in Egypt looking for food. But he did confront them, and he did state the sin. The purpose in confronting is not for revenge, it is for reconciliation. When God confronts us with sin, his purpose is for us to be reconciled with him. He wants us to repent and be in fellowship with him. Our purpose in confronting must be the same.

4. Joseph looked for the good in his pain. Look again at Genesis 50:20 (NIV). “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Joseph was able to see how God had worked all of this out for good. Rather than focus on his hurt and stew in his anger, Joseph recognized that God was saving lives through his position of authority in Egypt. God had placed Joseph in the right place at the right time. How he got there was due to the painful sin of his brothers. However, in his anger, Joseph looked for the good that God was working.

5. Joseph forgave his brothers. Genesis 50:21 (NIV) states, “‘So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” So rather than taking out revenge, Joseph forgave his brothers and promised to provide for them.

Rather than sin in his anger, Joseph turned anger into affection. He turned resentment into reassurance. He turned rage into rescue. He turned bitterness into benevolence. He turned temper into tenderness. I hope that Joseph’s example will be of some help to you today as you learn how to handle your anger in a way that honors God rather than sins against him. “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

 

 

Anger Management: Part 3, How Does God Handle His Anger?

Anger Management: Part 3, How Does God Handle His Anger?

I explained in Part 1 of this series that the majority of verses in the Bible that use the words “anger” and “wrath” refer to God’s anger and wrath. We may ask, “Why does the Bible have so many scriptures on God’s anger and wrath?” Well, the answer is that God’s anger and wrath are always against human sin. Since our tendency is to sin and sin often, God is moved to anger often. So how does God handle it? What does God do when He is angry?

There are basically two ways that God’s anger is displayed. First, God’s anger is seen through the action of vengeance. Throughout the Bible, there are several examples of God’s wrath displayed through vengeance. Here are two examples:

  • The first one is from Genesis. “Then the LORD rained down fire and burning sulfur from the heavens on Sodom and Gomorrah.” (Genesis 19:24 NLT) Because of the evil and sin that existed in Sodom and Gomorrah, God made a righteous judgment to destroy those towns. He did it with fire and burning sulfur.
  • A second example is from Revelation. “Anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15 NLT) This specific act of God’s vengeance is the last one mentioned in the Bible. It refers to the final judgment of God. This lake of fire is the literal Hell, the final destiny of all who reject Jesus, and the final destiny of Satan and his demons.

These are two examples of God’s anger being displayed as vengeance. However, the Bible explains to us that God’s vengeance is only for specific people.

  • God’s vengeance is for people who disobey Him. Ephesians 5:6 (NLT) states, “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him.”
  • God’s vengeance is for people who refuse to repent. Romans 2:5 (NIV) states, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”
  • God’s vengeance is for people who reject Jesus. John 3:36 (NIV) states, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

Make no mistake about it; God is serious about His vengeance. Our sin brings about the great vengeance of God. However, vengeance is not the only way God’s anger is displayed. There is another way that God displays His anger and wrath, and it is SALVATION through JESUS! Romans 3:25 (NLT) teaches us this great truth: “For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.” Did you read that carefully? Jesus came to satisfy God’s anger against us. WOW! That is a relief. Jesus took our place, our punishment, and our penalty for sin against God. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NLT) states, “For God decided to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.” Again, we see the idea repeated. God sent Jesus to save us rather than pour out His vengeance on us.

So if God’s vengeance is for those people who disobey him, refuse to repent, and reject Jesus, then who is His salvation for? God’s salvation through Jesus is for those who believe in Jesus. Two of the verses used above teach us this truth. John 3:36 (NIV) states, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” The person who believes in Jesus will receive salvation in Jesus and escape God’s wrath. And Romans 3:25 (NLT) says, “For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.” When we believe that Jesus sacrificed His life for us, we are made right with God.

God handles His anger through vengeance and salvation. His vengeance is for those who reject Jesus, and His salvation is for those who believe in Jesus. If you had a choice, which action of God’s anger would you choose: vengeance or salvation? Well, you do have a choice. The choice is to reject Jesus or believe in Jesus. If you have never believed in Jesus as God’s Son, the one sent as a sacrifice for your sin against God, then I give you that opportunity right now. Repent of your sin. Believe in Jesus. He died for you. God loves you and wants to save you from His vengeance. So believe in Jesus. Then you can participate in God’s salvation.

Next week, we will look at part 4, How To Handle My Anger.

 

Anger Management: Part 2, Why Am I So Angry?

Anger Management: Part 2, Why Am I So Angry?

When you see your child, grandchild, or another child who has an angry face, what do you normally ask? “What’s the matter?” “Why are you angry?” That’s what I would ask, too. But what is the motivation for such a question? Why should I even care when my child or another child is angry? Perhaps our motivation for the question is that we want the child to think about the source of the anger. We want the child to think before sinful action happens. We want the child to calm down and consider that the anger may be totally inappropriate. Inappropriate anger is when we assume someone has wronged us, but in fact no one has. Appropriate anger is when someone has wronged us or sinned against us. Unless we stop and identify the real source of our anger, we are likely to act out inappropriate anger in an inappropriate way. “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26 NIV)

Now that I’m an adult, I just need someone to ask me the question when I have an angry face. What a minute, that’s exactly what God does. Check this out in Genesis 4:3-7 (NIV): “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.’”

Did you see that? Cain had his angry face on, and God stepped in and asked him the question. “Why are you angry?” So why does God care? What is His motivation for asking us about the source of our anger? My opinion is that He does care and wants to keep us from acting in sin. Remember that the emotion of anger is not a sin. The behavior of anger can become sin unless we do something good with it. My point here is that we must stop and answer the question before we act. We must identify the source of our anger. Sadly, Cain never answered God’s question. Instead, Cain acted out his anger by killing his younger brother Abel.

What if Cain had answered God’s question? What would he have said? What was the source of his anger? Here are a few guesses.

1. Cain could have been jealous. Cain could have answered God by saying, “God, I am jealous that Abel’s offering was better than mine.” The scripture in Genesis makes a distinction between Abel’s offering and Cain’s. Abel’s offering was from the fat portions of the firstborn of the flock. Abel offered the best cut of the firstborn. Cain offered only some fruits of the soil. It was not his best. So Cain was jealous. If Cain had stopped long enough to realize that the source of his anger was jealousy, then he would have realized that his anger was inappropriate. Proverbs 27:4 (NLT) teaches us this: “Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but who can survive the destructiveness of jealousy?” Jealousy is a sin, and it is destructive.

So if the source of my anger is jealousy, then my anger is inappropriate and sinful. I must repent and let go of the inappropriate anger.

2. Cain could have been ashamed of his behavior. Cain could have said, “God, I’m angry at myself for not presenting my best offering. I know how to present my best fruit, and I didn’t. Now I’m ashamed and angry.” John explains it this way: “We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was right.” (1 John 3:12 NLT) John’s explanation is that Cain’s behavior was evil. Cain knew the right way to present an offering to God but presented an offering that was unacceptable. Cain’s behavior was evil, and he was ashamed.

So if the source of my anger is shameful behavior, then my anger is inappropriate and sinful. I must repent and let go of the inappropriate anger.

3. Cain could have had his pride wounded. Cain could have said, “God, I’m angry because as the older brother I deserve your favor.” In the Psalms, we find this truth. “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” (Psalms 10:4 NIV) Cain’s offering did not receive God’s favor. He was jealous, ashamed, and too prideful to seek God again with the proper offering. In his pride, Cain did not seek God. However, God did seek Cain to give him another chance to present the proper offering. Cain never answered God. His pride was wounded.

So if the source of my anger is wounded pride, then my anger is inappropriate and sinful. I must repent and let go of the inappropriate anger.

God cares about the source of our anger. He does not want us to sin in our anger. Therefore, “we must not be like Cain,” as John instructs. We must stop and answer God’s question, “Why are you angry?” So what is your answer? Are you jealous? Are you ashamed? Has your pride been wounded? Repent of sin. Let go of inappropriate anger. If someone has sinned against you and your anger is appropriate, then we will look at how to deal with that in part 4 of this series. Next time, we will look at part 3: How Does God Handle His Anger?

Anger Management: Part 1, What is Anger?

Anger Management: Part 1, What is Anger?

I’m sure you have noticed by watching the news, reading social media, and listening to your coworkers and neighbors that we have a problem with anger management. We seem to be getting angrier at each other over things that are not that important. Our lack of emotional control is destroying our families, our friendships, our work places, our churches, and our country. Why should we fear terrorism when we are destroying each other with poor anger management? Thankfully, the Bible has a lot to say about anger management. I want to share with you some biblical principles that will help you to have better management of your anger. Let’s begin with answering the question, What is A.N.G.E.R?

1. Accept that anger is a God-given emotion. The four basic emotions God has given us are gladness, sadness, anger, and fear. In Ephesians 4:26 (NIV), we have this instruction about anger. “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” The first part of this scripture is a quote from Psalms 4:4 (NIV) which says, “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” We understand from these scriptures that anger is not a sin. However, what we do with our anger can be a sin. It is our choice to sin or not to sin while angry. In part 4 of this series, we will look at how to handle our anger without sinning. Anger is one of the basic emotions God has given us.

2. Notice that even God gets angry. The word anger is used 262 times in the New International Version of the Bible with 217 of those referring to God’s anger. Here’s one example: “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalms 145:8 NIV)  The word wrath is used 197 times in the New International Version of the Bible with 189 of those referring to God’s wrath. Here’s one example: “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.” (Psalms 7:11 NIV) So yes, God gets angry and expresses wrath. So what is God angry about? God is angry about our sin. Psalms 78:38 (NIV) says this: “Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath.” In part 3 of this series, we will look at how God handles his anger. As part of our definition of anger, we must notice that even God gets angry.

3. Greet anger as a signal to do something good. When we become angry, our body responds with a variety of functions. Our respiration gets deeper, and our heart rate increases. Our blood pressure rises, and the blood is shifted from the stomach and intestines to the heart, the central nervous system, and the muscles. Sugar is secreted from the reserves in the liver, and adrenaline is secreted. Our body moves into a physical state of readiness when we are angry. Either we can so something good or bad in that physical state of readiness. Again, Psalms 4:4 (NIV) says, “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” If we greet anger as a signal to do something good, then we can search our hearts and be silent until we think of that good to do.

4. Examine what makes me angry. Sometimes our anger is appropriate, and sometimes it is inappropriate. The only way to tell the difference is to stop and ask why am I angry. If we are going to have better anger management skills, we must identify the source of our anger. In part 2 of this series, we will look at what makes us angry. Most of our anger is inappropriate in that we assume someone has wronged us or sinned against us. If we assume wrongly, then we usually act wrongly. “In your anger do not sin.” Identify the source of anger so that that behavior of anger will not be sin.

5. Recognize the past results of my anger as a learned behavior. Most of the time, the way I handle my anger is simply a learned behavior. I may have had good role models or bad role models. Either way, somewhere in my past I learned to handle my anger. So guess what? It’s time to teach an old dog a new trick. I can learn a different behavior with my anger. “In your anger do not sin.” 

So what is anger? Anger is a God-given emotion, and even God gets angry. Anger is a physical signal in our body to remind us to do something good. When angry, we must stop and examine why we are angry. And whatever our previous learned angry behavior has been, we can learn a new behavior. Next time we will look at part 2: Why Am I So Angry?