Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
The Bible-teaching about anger teaches that it is an honest, real, and basic emotion, but that can and must be managed. Knowing the dynamics of anger is the starting place.
Consider this imaginary scenario.
“You stupid idiot,” Jeff yells at his defiant wife, Judy. “You intentionally bought that dress and
overspent on the credit card! That is horribly wrong! You shouldn’t have done that!
Tell you what! I am going to go buy a new computer – that will fix you!” Sound remotely familiar? We probably don’t have to guess very hard about what Judy is about to say back.
Anger is real. Sometimes it is livid and explosive. Other times it simmers and boils into resentment,
bitterness, and vindictiveness. Husbands and wives quarrel behind closed doors – and other times hurl violent verbal or physical abuse at each other.
Sometimes church members gets angry and they express it in the form of gossip, and other times they, too, exude hostility and fight in the church. In factories, the office, and boardrooms anger flares and hurts, like a searing blow torch.
A prolonged angry and hostile temperament is linked to a higher incident of heart disease as compared to more mellow personalities. In one study, angry subjects had three times as many coronary crisis in their lives compared to those who are not as angry.
The usual Christian attitude toward being angry is that we tend to deny it, justify it, smother it, confess it as sin, or stuff it down until it erupts in an explosion. Since it is such a powerful emotion that can motivate devastating damage, it deserves study and understanding. In other words, what is the Bible teaching about being angry?
Even the Apostle Paul got in on the act. He wrote, “Be angry, and yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).
This statement implies several things: all os feel angry at times, but we have a choice in how it is expressed.
The first step in managing it is to understand eight core dynamics at work during the explosive episode. If we know what is happening, it is easier to manage it. Here are the
1. First, there is the idea of intention. If we think someone is intentionally doing something wrong or unfair, it stirs the anger cauldron. In our example, the husband assumed the wife somehow deliberately planned to go over the limit on the credit card. It was no accident.
2. Second, there is the sense of someone doing something wrong, or violating some sacred law or rule.
In this case, the husband had concluded his wife and blown the budget, and maxed out the card.
In his mind, that was downright horribly wrong.
3. Third, we burn to retaliate. We hear the words often, “I’m going to get even with them.”
We want to punish and penalize in order to prod the erring one into right behavior, as we view “right.”
Our angry husband was going to go buy himself a new computer to get even with his wayward wife.
However, The Apostle Paul asserts, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
4. Fourth, labeling spews forth. This is swearing or cursing the other person. In our example, the husband called his wife an “idiot,” when in real life it probably was much worse. As explained in my detailed ebook on anger management, the basic dynamic at work is this. If we can dehumanize the other person and make them inferior to us, then their pain is not as important as ours. It gives the husband the superior stance, because she is just an “idiot,” which means that his judgment is much greater than hers. It justifies lashing out at her.
5. Fifth, mind reading clouds the picture. This is jumping to conclusions about the motives
and thought of the other person. It is deadly to assume we know why other people do what they do.
Actually, the wife may have had a good reason to buy the new dress. Perhaps she was going on a job interview
so she could earn enough money to pay down the credit card.
6. Sixth, angry people magnify the problem. We can hear it in the word, “It’s awful,
horrible, terrible, and I cannot stand it.” Not many things in life are horrible. Probably the most
horrible is dying and not going to heaven to be with Christ. But a dress? Come on! It might be foolish and
irresponsible, but it is not even close to what our guy, Jeff, said, “That is horribly wrong.”
7. Seventh, “should” thoughts fan angry emotion into a hot flame. When we demand that people “should” do this or that,
it is always from our own personal list of rules or value system. The problem is that we all have different sets of personal “rights and wrongs.” When we dump our expectations onto other people, and they don’t accept them, then we make ourselves angry.
8. Eight, the foundation of anger is entitlement. Somehow we humans are wired to believe that we are entitled to be treated kindly, gently, fairly, lovingly, honestly, and wisely in our dealing with life. When we are jolted with the fact that life in this very troubled and wayward world is not always kind, gentle, fair, loving, honest, and fair, then we agitate ourselves to anger. When we insist on a perfect world, then we insist on the impossible.
The Bible teaching about being angry teaches that it is an honest, real, and basic emotion, but that can and must be managed. Knowing the dynamics is the starting place.
But, there are many more tools available that are explained in my ebook. Our friend would do well to cool it, forget the computer, and repair the damage he did to his wife. Paul was right, “Be angry, and yet do not sin.”
BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS:
1. What do you think Paul means in Ephesians 4:26?
2. Do you sometimes have difficulty with anger? How does it show up in your life?
3. What are some of the consequences of unmanaged anger (Ephesians 4:31; Romans 12:14-21)?
4. What spiritual consequences do you think being angry might bring (Ephesians 4:27)?
5. Study Romans 12:9-21 and Ephesians 4:25-5:2. List as many ways to counteract anger as you can. Explain.
6. Is anger ever productive? Explain your answer from the Bible.
7. Study James 1:19-20. What do you think James means? Can you give an illustration from your own life?
8. Read Matthew 5:22; James 1:19-20; Ephesians 4:26; Acts 15:36-40, and Romans 12:19. How would you reconcile these verses in light of anger management?
9. What are some physical things prolonged anger does to our body?
10. What stands out to you the most in this study? Explain.
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