Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How You Can Keep Anger from Controlling Your Life

Anger isn't always wrong. This is important for Christians to know.

But, as a way of life, it's destructive to our health and to our relationships with others. Proverbs 29:22 says, "One given to anger stirs up strife, and the hothead causes much transgression."

It's no doubt because of the destructiveness of anger that Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not make room for the devil." In other words, get your anger with others resolved or give up the anger. Unresolved anger turns into hate, which is a synonym for "grudge."

We should also shy away from associating with constantly angry people. In Proverbs 22:24, a passage cited by Pastor Rick Warren on Twitter this evening, we're told, "Make no friends with those given to anger, and do not associate with hotheads."

I think that this is even good Biblical advice to us when considering whether to watch, listen to, or read angry political pundits. Stay away from them as readily as you would stay away from constantly angry people in daily life. Associate long with such people and you become an angry person too: After all, computers aren't the only thinking machines for which it's true to say, "Garbage in, garbage out."

Pray for chronically angry people, asking God to give them new attitudes.

Treat them with love and respect.

But don't associate with them.

So, what if you find yourself drifting into a chronic attitude of angry hatefulness toward other people or toward life?

The nineteenth century geologist and Christian evangelist Henry Drummond wrote a remarkable booklet about love called The Greatest Thing in the World, and said that when we find an angry temper gaining a foothold in our lives:
...it is not enough to deal with the [outward expressions of anger]. We must go to the source and change the inmost nature, and the angry humors will die away themselves. Souls are made sweet not by taking the acid fluids out but by putting something in--a great new love, a new spirit, the Spirit of Christ...The Spirit of Christ interpenetrating our spirit, sweetens, purifies, transforms all. This only can eradicate what is wrong, work a chemical change, renovate, reinvigorate, and rehabilitate the inner [person]. Will power does not change [people]. Christ does.
He goes on to quote the prescription found in Philipians 2:5: "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus..."

When anger threatens to take center stage in our own characters, we must ask God to get rid of the "I-Me-Mine" thinking that causes us to adopt anger and hatred as our default position and to instead replace it with with Jesus-thinking. (Philippians 2:5-11 explains what Jesus-thinking is like.)

If you'll be patient in praying that, enforcing it by daily reading God's Word and by getting involved in a local church where you can undertake acts of kindness in Jesus' Name and pray, worship, and study with other believers, anger will be put in its proper perspective in your life.

The Spirit of Christ will displace your anger and Jesus will take first place in your life, where He belongs.

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