These days the world is full of anger, lived out in hatred and violence. So much of this comes from our desperate desire to be in control of our lives. And when we feel we’ve lost control, we lash out. When we feel we’ve been wronged, we must avenge.
So what does the Bible say our response to anger should be?
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. (James 1:19, 20 NLT)
God says “be slow to anger”. Stop and think. If we can try to put things in perspective and remind ourselves of our own mistakes that are graciously forgiven by our Heavenly Father, it may be easier to take the step towards forgiveness and avoid anger. “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” So much of our human anger comes from the wrong place and leads to ungodly actions. If we think about some of the things we’ve done in anger, the lack of righteousness will be pretty clear.
Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. (Ecclesiastes 7:9 NLT)
How often do we look back at a situation in which we were angry and wish we had handled it differently. As the Bible says, anger gives the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27) and he loves for a Christian to look like a fool. Instead of looking back with regret, think ahead and control your temper to begin with.
A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted. (Proverbs 12:16 NLT)
There’s the old saying: “Don’t stoop to their level.” How often when we feel insulted do we quickly retort with an insult of our own. This quick-tempered response does nothing for our witness as followers of Christ. We have now done the exact thing to someone else that we were so angry about in the first place. Staying calm will make you feel better in the long run and will also be a great example of a life lived for Christ.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1 NLT)
Another old saying: “You get more bees with honey.” When we compound the problem by adding our own fuel to the fire it will only make things worse. On the other hand, if we have a kinder word in response, anger will often be deflected.
A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them. (Proverbs 15:18 NLT)
In many situations, we can take the opportunity to be the voice of reason when hot tempers are quickly coming to a boil? By keeping our cool we can stop a fight from happening and ultimately keep ourselves and others from sin.
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. (Proverbs 19:11 NLT)
We all know someone that almost appears to keep track of “unfair” things others have done or mistakes others have made. They are not the people we usually want to be around for fear of their angry response if we screw up. As Christians we should be people who show love and grace and overlook the shortcomings of others. This response will cause us to be respected and God to be glorified.
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Ephesians 4:26
When anger takes over, we spend far too much time and energy focusing on it and it suddenly takes control of us. Once anger is in control, sin is not far behind.
Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, (Ephesians 4:26 NLT)
God’s mercies are new every day, but if the last thoughts before we fall asleep were filled with anger, we’re going to wake up with residual feelings and we won’t be allowing God to give us a fresh start when the sun rises.
So what do we do when we have truly been treated unfairly, or worse? How do we handle the very real feelings of anger that are boiling within us?
PRAY – Pray for peace. The Bible says that God will give us a “peace that passes understanding”. (Philippians 4:7). A peace that doesn’t even make sense but washes over us and cools the heat of anger.
TRUST GOD – If you are a child of God, he is taking care of the situation. In his time. In his way. But for your ultimate good. (Romans 8:28). The person that you are angry with ultimately has to answer to God. Let God worry about it. He does get angry at wickedness. And in his righteous anger, he will avenge if necessary. (Romans 12:19).
Some closing advice straight from the Word of God:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31, 32 NLT)
Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. (Psalms 37:8 NLT)