Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Road rage, as we call it. It happens every day. But of course, we see anger and rage everywhere. Our world is becoming an increasingly angry world.
We see rage in shops, in schools, in workplaces, on sporting fields, in sporting crowds, in car parks—everywhere and anywhere people are these days. And of course we see it in families. And between friends—as people lose their temper, as people lose control of themselves.
Today, I’d like to share with you a word about anger.
Anger is commonly linked with words such as bitterness, outrage, resentment, temper and wrath. We speak about people being ‘hot under the collar’, ‘venting their spleen’, ‘giving people a serve’. It is such a visible emotion. But such a destructive one.
Anger is of course, a natural reaction—a natural emotion that rises up in us. I believe it is part of our being made in the image of God. God gets angry. We read about the anger of God in Scripture. We are made in his image and so we get angry. Trouble is of course, our anger, because of our fallen nature, because of our selfishness and sin, is rarely like God’s anger.
God’s anger is always righteousness anger. It is pure—is not selfish, is not ‘out of control’ anger. God is always slow to become angry. Our anger is rarely like that. But anger is a natural response.
Different Types of Anger
But of course there are different types of anger. For example, there is the explosive type of anger. Sudden anger. The road-rage type of anger that just flares up almost out of nowhere. People are perfectly normal one minute and then something happens: they don’t get their own way, somebody annoys them—and snap, they get so angry. They are quick-tempered, as we say—have a ‘short fuse’.
Then there is anger that wants revenge. That wants to retaliate. This is more a calculating sort of anger. It’s an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ type of anger. No thought of forgiveness. It’s all about payback.
It’s the sort of anger the Pharisees had concerning Jesus. In Luke 6:11 we read, “But the Pharisees were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.”
Then there is the resentment type of anger. This is the sort of anger that stems from some grievance which a person suppresses for a long time and allows to quietly smoulder away deep down inside them. This sort of anger doesn’t so much blow up but clams up. At least for a while. Often it is then released in an explosion of abuse that leaves others wondering where on earth such deep emotion came from.
Such anger nurtured inside soon turns into bitterness and self-pity. This is the sort of anger that changes human personalities and nearly always destroys relationships.
Can you relate to any of these forms of anger?
Then there is what I have called controlling anger. Some people want to control and motivate others through anger. Some parents are like this. Some partners are like this. Many school teachers are like this. They think the only way to motivate someone is by getting angry. Can you remember a school teacher who was like that?
During the last Olympics the Russian women’s volleyball coach was a classic in this regard. His players would come off the court and he would scream at them. Get right in their face and yell abuse and point his finger. As the commentators said, “he was a show all on his own.”
Last type of anger I want to mention: indignation. This is anger that rises up within us as a result of us seeing someone or something of importance to us being mistreated or suffering an injustice. This is healthy anger, often what we call righteous anger, because it is anger for the right reason. It’s the sort of anger Jesus displayed.
Can you relate to any of these forms of anger?
So what then is the effect of anger on our lives? Well let me firstly say that the effect of righteous anger might hopefully be repentance on the part of those who have been doing the wrong thing.
But righteous anger is difficult of course because it is very difficult to be angry and not sin. As Aristotle said, “Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way—that is not easy.”
The Effect of Anger on Our Lives
But let’s generally consider the effect of anger on our lives.
Proverbs 30:33 says, “For as churning the milk produces butter and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.”
The truth is, anger and trouble go hand in hand. Anger does not produce peace. It does not produce harmonious loving relationships that we long for. It produces trouble.
Consider the time Moses struck the rock in anger. You’ll find the story in Numbers 20. The people of Israel were complaining to Moses about the fact that there was no water to drink! Moses was frustrated. And so he went to God and God told him to strike a particular rock and water would come out. But listen to what Moses says (verse 10) “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”
The truth is, anger and trouble go hand in hand.
You can hear the anger in his voice. And then verse 11 says, “Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff.” In his anger, Moses not only failed to follow God’s instruction by hitting the rock just once, but he also took credit for the miracle himself. How Moses must have regretted what he said and did that day. It must have been the saddest day of his life. Because of one loss of control Moses missed out on entering the promised land.
How tragic. Do not be fooled. Anger produces trouble in our lives. It causes us to lose control and in doing so, we say and do things we later regret. Think of some of the footballers who have reacted in anger, lost control and lashed out at other players, only to be sent off or suspended from playing.
Author: Graeme Best