This past Sunday I taught the first lesson. I am sharing some of what I learned (and therefore taught to the class). As I completed the lesson, I did feel conviction but I also felt encouraged. I know I am not alone in my struggle and I know that God does not expect perfection from me, but rather gives grace for my short-comings.
"Anger takes many forms and may unconsciously be hidden as smoldering resentment or covered hurt. Inward anger seems to be the most destructive. Anger takes our focus off God and sets us on a course toward evil. Anger comes with high costs...Whether we vent our anger by silence, rage, or temper tantrums, we use our energy in unproductive, ungodly ways." -Martha TylerAs I thought about the above statement, the more I realized how true it was. I also thought about how much I really do want to please the Lord in this particular area of my life.
Just as an introduction to the topic, below are some facts I learned during my lesson preparation:
- Anger itself is not "sinful." The way we respond in our anger is either sinful or righteous,
- There are many accounts of anger in the bible. In the New King James Version (NKJV), the word 'angry' is used 92 times and the word 'anger' is used 233 times.
- Some accounts of anger include Cain, when God did not accept his offering (Gen. 4:5); God, in regards to the sins committed in Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:30); God, in regards to wickedness and false gods (Psalms 7:11).
Ephesians 4:26-27 tell us to be angry, but do not sin. We need to deal with the problem immediately rather than stewing it over in our minds or venting about it to friends. The reason is because when we do respond in an unbiblical manner, we are giving the devil a foothold (or something for Satan to grasp on to and use to further damage the relationship). Instead of thinking about the situation that made us angry, we need to think truth (Philippians 4:8).
Also, Eph. 4:29 tells us that our speech should be encouraging, give grace, and used to build others up. In our house, the "test" that we use to determine whether should be said is called the THINK principle. It means T-true H-helpful I-inspiring N-necessary K-kind. If what I am about to say does not meet all of the above requirements, it does not need to be said.
The area I tend to struggle the most with is uncontrolled anger (or my temper). Proverbs 14:29 describes two types of people. One who is slow to anger and shows great understanding. The other is quick to become angry (unfortunately that's me) and displays folly. Do I really want to be a fool? Of course not, but each time I allow my anger to control me instead of me controlling it, that is exactly what I am being. Ouch!
Sometimes we, as Christians, need to overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11). The Lord did this during the Pass Over. God was willing to overlook the sins of His people if they obeyed the Pass Over exactly as He commanded (Exodus 12).If God is willing to cover sin by the blood of the Lamb, shouldn't I be willing to do the same?!
Another area I really struggle with is bitterness. Proverbs 17:14 likens anger to a reservoir of water that develops a small leak. If you think about a dam, the leak will eventually get bigger until the whole dam breaks and deluge of water comes flooding downstream. Everything in the water's path is destroyed, and there is no way to hold it back. The damage is done; all that remains is to pick up the pieces and try to clean up the mess. Oh how our words are like this!
"The time between an upsetting situation and our reaction to it is a small window of opportunity in which to choose our course of action." - Martha TylerI hope that as you read through this post you were challenged in your thinking. As I've already shared, this is an area in which I really struggle, but I know that by God's grace I can walk worthy of my calling (Eph. 4:1). More later on this topic of anger...
Grow in grace,