Victory over Anger
There is no human being who has never become angry sometimes in life. Even infants express temper tantrum of some sort. We are all challenged and confronted by anger in us or others, leaving many scars behind. Is it possible to subdue anger in a believer’s life? The Bible assures us that we can find deliverance from this emotional aberration.
Let us understand ‘Anger’
Anger is a strong expression of annoyance, displeasure or hostility at a person, situation or a thing. It is one’s reaction as a way of resistance, survival or protection against seeming wrong-doing to oneself or others by someone. A Milder form of anger may be the result of feeling tired, stressed or irritated.
One is more likely to feel irritated if one’s basic human needs like food, shelter, sleep, and convenience is not met or are jeopardized in some measure. It may then result in anger of different intensity at different times.
One may become angry when reacting to frustration, criticism or threat of some sort. A person may sometimes feel upset with other people’s beliefs, opinions and actions and become angry and say or do unreasonable or irrational things. We sometimes get angry when our expectations from others are unmet.
Many people get angry at others over disagreements. When someone doesn’t comply with what we demand, we burst into negative and uncontrollable emotional reaction and lose our temper. We cannot discount the truth that others’ actions (omissions or commissions), words facial expressions and even silence can make us angry.
It is also true that we often feel sorry for ourselves because we became angry, but instead of admitting it, we try to justify it.
Thus anger is a real, though often unwanted or irrational emotion that humans experience from time to time. Some are more prone to anger habitually for various reasons. But for a believer, such expressions indicate the absence of self-control and Spirit-control.
Behavior and Anger
There are different behavioral manifestations in different situations as a result of anger in a person. His behavior is quite unlike his usual self. When angry, he loses his self-control and often bursts out. His blood pressure goes up. His eyesight is dimmed. His hearing diminishes and will not be able to hear clearly what he or others have spoken. In the absence of a recording, he will flatly deny that he has said or done anything of the sort others attribute to him while he was angry. His throat becomes dry. His body and tongue move fast and the brain is on a fast track. His heart beats faster and face becomes reddish accompanied with negative facial expressions. He spurts out thoughtless, illogical and inconsistent words. He slams the door or throws off things which are in his hands. The pitch of his voice becomes very high. This continues for a few moments or for a considerable time. He develops serious disregard and hatred for the object of his anger. Sometimes, even after a considerable lapse of time, his anger reappears at the thought or sight of the object of his anger. He loses his composure and in extreme cases, exhibits animal-like behavior which might lead to crimes of various degrees. While he is under the control of anger, he often abuses, shouts, mocks, threatens, curses and challenges the object of his anger. Sometimes anger erupts at the spur of the moment, and at other times, it emerges over a period of a few seconds or minutes.
Anger and Health
Anger has high physical cost as it impacts the health of the person who gets easily angered. When angry, some of his glands stop producing or overproduce hormones. Anger exerts extra pressure on a person’s circulatory, haematological, digestive, nervous and muscular systems seriously and causes damage in the long run as proved by Medical science.
Anger also has serious social cost. Angry behavior embarrasses and hurts his associates. Most people would not want to hang around with him. His family life gets affected as it would cause frustration, hurt, fear and anxiety among the spouse and children. The same may happen to his colleagues at the workplace and the believers in the church.
Along with its other negative impacts, anger has serious spiritual consequences. When a believer gets angry, his behavior will be controlled by the object of his anger to do or say what it dictates. His ‘self’ will take control over his emotions and in the process, the Holy Spirit is denied control of him. His behavior, attitude and speech become a reflection of his flesh and self.
The Bible warns that anger is a work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:25-31)). We are commanded to get rid of anger as it leads to evil (Psalms 37:8). Through anger, we grieve the Holy Spirit and our fellowship with God get ruptured. Anger as a sin will be a hindrance to our prayers being answered (Psalms 66:18). Anger is the result of lack of divine wisdom in a person (Proverbs 29:11). It leads to strife, conflict and quarrel (Proverbs 29:22; 30:33). We are instructed to keep away from the company of angry-prone persons (Proverbs 22:24). We are also warned that those who get angry at their brothers will face divine judgment (Matthew 5:22). That’s why James warns us to be slow to get angry (James 1:20).
Many angry-prone believers justify their anger by saying that their anger is ‘righteous’. By this, they mean that they are right because their anger is for God and thus spiritual. But righteous anger is an attribute of God who is the only perfectly righteous One. Humans can never justify their anger because there is always an element of unrighteousness in all of us. The Bible tells us how the angry-prone persons picked up judgment from God for their anger and subsequent actions. Moses got angry and broke the stone tablets (Exodus 32:19) and at another time smote the rock twice when he was asked to speak to the rock (Numbers 20:9-12). God told the angry Prophet Jonah that he had no right to get angry (Jonah 4:1, 4, 9). Anger when expresses will culminate in some sin in thoughts and behavior and that is why Paul warns us against anger (Ephesians 4:26). Paul says that true love is devoid of anger (1 Corinthians 13:5). We may express displeasure or reprove, but it has to be handled without anger and related words and actions. We are commanded to get rid of all rage, anger and associated sins of bitterness and brawling (Ephesians 4:31) because these grieve the Holy Spirit (verse 30). We must remind ourselves that the anger of man doesn’t achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:20). We are expected to forgive those who offend us (Matthew 6:12) rather than respond angrily.
Nevertheless, believers may become angry over sins and offenses against God, but it should not be expressed in a sinful way. Let us not allow the enemy to defeat us in this and to make us justify our unrighteous emotions.
Victory over Anger
The Bible tells us how to get victory over anger. But this is a formidable challenge and not easy. Due to a regular bout of anger, it becomes almost habitual in us, followed by sinful behavior. Primarily anger has to be recognized as a weakness because when we are angry, we lose our temper and become slaves to the object of our anger. But it is important that the angry-prone person regains his real self back from the bondage and tyranny of anger, related behavior and the object of his anger. This victory is possible only if he is filled (controlled) with the Holy Spirit so that the fruit of the Spirit will be visible in his responses to the objects which formerly caused him anger (Ephesians 6:18-21; Galatians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:12-17). One has to confess and repent of anger as sin and the way it has grieved the Holy Spirit and hurt the people who are the objects of his anger (like spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, brethren, colleagues and neighbours). Secondly, when one enjoys forgiveness for the sin of anger, he has to pray for the Spirit to fill him and take full control of his emotions (Luke 11:13). Every time anger subdues and defeats a believer, this process will have to be repeated until he gets increasing victory over this grievous sin on a daily basis.
The Bible says that a person has to learn not to speak when he is tempted to get angry (Proverbs 14:17). We must learn to be silent when feeling angry, and ask the Holy Spirit to take full control of our emotions. Through prayer and supplication, one has to continuously ask the Spirit to take full control of him so that he will not fall into the sin of anger. This is the way to avoid falling into anger-related sins of excessive, hurting, sinful and unruly talk. Instead, we have to train our hearts to be filled always with praise. We need to tame our spirits to be under the control of the Holy Spirit when reasons for anger come knocking at the doors of our hearts. Then we will be strengthened to be silent or respond spiritually. This is the way to get victory over anger and there is no other shortcut. We are to quieten and clam our souls like a weaned child with its mother (Psalms 131:2).
Grace for Victory