Get a Handle on Anger

I have observed that too many families are struggling with the painful effects of out of control anger. Husbands, wives, and children are trying to cope with the pain that uncontrolled anger brings. Many times, they spend most of their lives trying to recover from it. So, this week, I want to help you understand how to get anger under control. The Bible tells us that anger in itself is not sinful, rather it is a part of the likeness of God in which we are created. In fact, God gets angry. The issue is learning to control anger in a way that is not sinful. Ephesians 4:26 tells us not to sin in our anger because it makes a place for the devil to wreak havoc in our lives.
I have noticed that this problem has crept out of the privacy of homes and has begun to become a public problem. In the past, most people were embarrassed by what they might say or do as a result of uncontrolled anger so they made a point of keeping it hidden and behaving respectfully in public. However, in the past few years, this has begun to change. It seems that most people are no longer embarrassed by their uncontrolled anger. It has become common for us to come into contact with rage-aholics nearly everywhere. We see them on the highways, in line at stores, at our children’s sporting events, and everywhere. Their behavior is crude, disrespectful, scary, and sometimes violent. The time has come for each of us to make a decision to keep anger under control in our lives and families. I hope to offer you several suggestions that will help this week.
Today, I want to offer you the first principle to help you get anger under control. Our actions that result from anger matter. When a person explodes in anger, they often feel that they can’t help it or that it is ok because they are simply expressing themselves. In fact, some people have become convinced that angry explosions are a part of who they are and those who love them simply have to accept that as part of the package. However, the truth is that
anger is no more than an emotion. It is not a part of one’s personality that can’t be controlled. The truth is that how we handle anger not only affects our relationship with our family members and friends, it also affects our relationship with God.
Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control”.
Galatians 5:20 lists outbursts of anger as one of the works of the sinful flesh to turn away from in order to walk in the Spirit.
The starting point in getting anger under control is to realize that when anger leads us to sinful behavior, it is not acceptable for a follower of Jesus. We can’t give ourselves a pass. We need to repent and ask God for help.
The second principle in getting anger under control is to revoke the permission we have given ourselves to express anger in sinful ways. At the heart of everything we do is our will. We give ourselves the green light on certain things and the red light on certain things. Behind each choice are many layers of reasons, excuses, and rationale. When we give ourselves the green light on expressing anger in destructive, hurtful ways it illustrates flaws in our belief system. This faulty thinking opens the door for us to inflict pain on those around us while justifying it to ourselves.
The reality is that this is the way people who are not followers of Jesus think. In Galatians 5:20, we are told that outbursts of anger indicates that a person is walking in the sinful flesh not in obedience to the Spirit. Colossians 3:8 tells us to put off all sinful anger and malice. I have observed that these outbursts of anger and rage are the product of self-serving. These outbursts come because self is not pleased with what is happening or what is being said. When we reach the boiling point, we give ourselves permission to say and do hurtful things to express our displeasure. We tell ourselves that this will teach those close to us to treat us better. We tell ourselves that this will bring justice to strangers who infringed on our comfort and desires. We have thought about it long and hard and have put together layers of reasons why we have permission to unleash the beast of angry words, gestures, and actions on those who upset us.
As followers of Jesus, we are obligated to live from a selfless code of life. Our first code of conduct should always flow from Jesus’ command to treat others the way we want to be treated. Our second code of life should be to live from a place of love and service to others. These are in stark contrast to living for self. So, the next step in getting sinful angry outbursts under control is to revoke the permission you have given yourself to unleash the beast and replace it with a commitment to live in the Spirit not pleasing the flesh. We need to learn to speak the truth to those around us in love which includes respect and kindness.
The next idea we have to deal with in our journey to keep anger under control and express it in non-sinful ways has to do with the myth that we are controlled by our circumstances. I have found that many rage-aholics see themselves as victims of circumstance. They rage in scary power while declaring themselves to be weak and helpless.
In the aftermath of an episode of rage, most will try to convince those involved that they just couldn’t help it because someone said or did something that pushed their buttons and they just exploded. The idea is that they are helpless pawns of the actions of others. in other words, their terrible behavior is someone else’s fault. The truth is that God does not give a pass for this excuse and neither should we. My response is that you should move your buttons so others can’r reach them.
This thinking makes me think of a remote controller. They are great for controlling the tv or opening garage doors, but humans don’t work that way. Can you imagine walking around with a remote control that controls our words and actions attached to our clothing. Of all the many buttons, there would be the red button that creates rage. So, with this mentality, we go through life with everyone we come into contact with being able to take control of us by simply pushing our buttons. Can you imagine handing over the remote and inviting others to control us. “ Here, make me act like a fool if you want.” Then, afterward, we tell all the observers that we are not responsible because that other person pushed the red button. So, here we have the great mystery. A person is lashing out in scary strength throwing objects, breaking objects, veins bulging, and screaming out awful words while trying to convince us that they are helpless victims of circumstance.
The truth is that I alone am responsible for my actions and words. In Galatians 5, we are told that those who walk in the Spirit exhibit self control… not remote control. So the next step in getting anger under control is to accept the fact that we are not helpless victims who are driven into outbursts of rage simply because someone else walked by and pushed the red button.
Another important step in getting anger under control is to spend some time thinking about the qualities you want to have define you and taking steps to change. I find that most people never really think about who they are as seen by God and others. They just simply pass through life reacting to circumstances as the mood leads them. This leads a lot of people to settle into lifestyle habits that reflect negativity. They become known as the angry person, the touchy person, the grumpy person, or the pessimistic person. I want to encourage you to adopt a list of qualities to pursue that will define you in a way that honors Jesus and inspires others. In fact, the Bible gives us a list in Galatians 5. This list includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. The Bible also tells us to treat others the way we want to be treated and to put the interests of others ahead of our own interests.
When we cultivate a desire to be defined by qualities like these, it effects every area of our lives. I would recommend memorizing these qualities and spend time thinking about how they would be expressed in your day to day interactions with others…especially your mate and children. The key to developing these qualities is to make them a part of our daily prayers. Ask God every morning to help you live out these qualities as you go through the day. After all, habits are formed and a reputation is built one day at a time. Soon, everyone will begin to notice.
I hope you will begin today. Determine that with God’s help,you will not simply go through life reacting to every circumstance like a ball in a pinball machine. Instead, develop a list of core values and defining qualities and choose to respond to circumstances according to those. In a short while, you will begin to see these qualities growing in your life and you will have a greater sense of peace and clarity of vision for the future. Your family will be blessed and positively impacted. So,determine what kind of person you want to be and refuse to let life’s ups and downs knock you off your goal. If it does, simply get up and start over.
Yes, it is true that anger in itself is not a sin. The way we express anger is where the sin can come in. Anger can get us motivated to stand up and speak out to right a wrong. Anger can motivate us to dig deep and do what’s necessary to strengthen a marriage relationship or to step up our parenting. The key however is to allow the anger to feed our motivation to work at something while carefully choosing how to interact with others lovingly and respectfully. So, be angry but don’t sin in your anger.
Before we go, I want to recommend I Still Do, A Guide for the Marriage Journey. This marriage devotional was designed to help strengthen your marriage. Order yours today by clicking the link on our home page. By the way, there is a whole section on this topic in the book!.

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