You Can Control Your Anger
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Beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.—James 1:19
Think before you speak in anger
Anger confounds many people in our world today. We simply don’t know how to handle our anger like we have in the past. One of the Bible’s simplest, yet most profound answers for our anger comes in Proverbs 29:11: “Stupid people express their anger openly, but sensible people are patient and hold it back.”1
Think before you speak. Delay is a tremendous remedy for anger. You don’t need to delay indefinitely. If you’ve got an issue you need to deal with, you need to do so. Anger delayed indefinitely becomes bitterness. That’s worse than anger. Anger isn’t always a sin. Bitterness is.
If you respond impulsively, you tend to respond in anger. If you wait to talk about whatever conflict you’re dealing with, you’ll be more rational and reasonable when you do. The longer you hold your temper, the better your response will be. Give yourself time to think.
When conflict arises and you give yourself time to think, what should you think about? Consider these five questions:
T: Is it truthful? Is what I’m about to say the truth?
H: Is it helpful? Or will it simply harm the other person?
I: Is it inspirational? Does it build up or does it tear down?
N: Is it necessary? If it’s not necessary, why do I need to say it?
K: Is it kind?
THINK before you speak. Reflect before you react. It’ll slow down your anger every time.—Rick Warren2
The good points
Standard Oil was once one of the biggest companies in the world, led by the famous John D. Rockefeller. On one occasion a company executive made a bad decision. It cost the firm $2 million. This was the late 1800s, and $2 million was a huge sum.
Edward Bedford, a partner in the company, had an appointment to see Rockefeller. When he entered Rockefeller’s office he saw his boss bent over a piece of paper, busily scribbling notes. When Rockefeller finally looked up, he said to Bedford, “I suppose you’ve heard about our loss? I’ve been thinking it over, and before I ask the man in to discuss the matter, I’ve been making some notes.”
Bedford looked across the table and saw the page Rockefeller had been scribbling on. Across the top of the page was the heading, “Points in favor of Mr. __________.” Below the heading was a long list of the man’s good qualities, including notes of three occasions where he had made decisions that had earned the company many times more than his error had lost.
Bedford later said, “I never forgot that lesson. In later years, whenever I was tempted to rip into anyone, I forced myself first to sit down and thoughtfully compile as long a list of good points as I possibly could. Invariably, by the time I finished my inventory, I would see the matter in its true perspective and keep my temper under control. There is no telling how many times this habit has prevented me from committing one of the costliest mistakes any executive can make—losing his temper.”—From storiesforpreaching.com
Bring your anger to Me
He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalts folly.—Proverbs 14:29
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Although this is a biblical command, anger is treated as taboo in many Christian circles. Repression of this normal human emotion is neither righteous nor healthy; in fact, it can lead to serious problems. If you fail to recognize your anger, you are likely to let the sun go down on it and take it to bed. This gives the devil an opportunity—a place of entrance into your life. It can also result in various health problems. Therefore, early recognition of this powerful feeling is vital. The command Be angry gives you permission to have such feelings, so you are free to face them openly. You do, however, need to be careful how you express them.
The first step is to bring your anger to Me. I will help you discern whether or not it is legitimate. If it is, then I will help you figure out what to do about it. Anger can be a signal that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Sometimes, though, your wrathful feelings are based on distortions: misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Recognizing such distortions can be very freeing. If you have not acted on these feelings in hurtful ways, you can simply release them. However, if you have dealt with your anger in sinful ways, you will need to ask forgiveness of Me and anyone else you have hurt.
Remember that I came to make you free. Dealing with anger in a responsible way frees you to live abundantly, enjoying My Presence more fully.—Jesus, speaking in prophecy3
Are you quick to praise and show respect, and slow to wrath (anger)? When you feel like getting upset, what do you do? Do you slow down, stop, and pray, so that you can answer with kindness and consideration? Or do you say the first thing that comes to your mind? No matter what the situation or circumstance, the best kind of answer you can give is a loving, considerate answer.
Answering someone with consideration means you restrain yourself from raising your voice and getting upset, shouting, arguing, yelling, or being harsh in your communications. It means you consider the other person’s feelings.
Shouting or yelling at your friends or getting upset will seldom help you get your way. Most likely, it will only make others feel hurt, on the spot, humiliated, and on the defensive. Think about how you would feel if you were in their place and someone were shouting and upset at you.
If someone has wronged you, work it out with kindness and consideration for the other person’s feelings. Others are more likely to listen to you if you present your side with humility.
You can pray for a meek and quiet spirit, for wisdom and tact, and loving kindness and patience. You can also ask Jesus to help you not be too quick to judge, or harsh in your speech and actions.
Jesus can give us the power to be slow to anger, patient, considerate, kind, forgiving, and encouraging.
Being loving and considerate in all our interactions with others will help us to have healthy, strong friendships and relationships.—Christi S. Lynch
He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.—Proverbs 25:28
Let it go
Time heals all things—even a broken heart. The hurt and anger you feel now will fade with time, but it will be much quicker and easier to bear if you ask Me to help you. It may still take longer than you’d like, but slow healing is often the best healing.
At the same time, you must do your part. Let go of the past. Allow yourself to be healed. Let go of the anger and bitterness. Let it all go. As difficult as it may be, you must accept what has happened and forgive. Only then will you be able to close the door on the past, find relief from the painful memories, and get on with life.
At times like this when your whole world seems to be falling apart, when things so dear to you have been taken away, you may wonder if I still love and care for you. The answer to that is simple—yes! More than ever I want to show you just how much I love you! Your life is emptier now, but I’m waiting to fill that void with My love. So go ahead—go through and close the door on the past. I’m on the other side of the door and have many good things in store for you.—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
Published on Anchor February 2020. Read by Jon Marc.
3 Sarah Young, Jesus Lives (Thomas Nelson, 2009).