Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
There’s no doubt about it—there’s a lot of angry people walking around today. We seem to be living in an age of anger.
A disabled woman drove her car into the disabled car spot only to return and find an abusive note on her windscreen: I witnessed you and your able-bodied daughter get out of the car. You have no sign of any disability. I will report you. Mild mannered people sometimes say, You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Nobody ever gets into trouble for feeling angry, But people sometimes get into trouble for what they do when they feel angry.
And I think that’s the main point. In itself anger is not bad. It’s the way we treat it that can cause immense problems. Some people have trouble turning it off or dealing with it the right way, though. Chronic, ongoing anger can tear down your relationships, job, social life, reputation—even you health.
Has your heart been singed by scalding anger? Has holding onto bitterness caused you deep regrets? Has your moment of rage left a permanent scar and broken the spirit of a close friend? These are real questions that need a good and helpful answer.
I think it’s true to say we don’t set out to hurt others by our anger or fury. We don’t mean to lash out but when we do, it’s like a bomb that explodes—and damages everything and everybody around us. But there is hope. We have a God who sees what’s going on and wants to help us deal with our anger.
The Bible has good advice in Proverbs 22: 24-25 which says:
Do not befriend someone given to anger
or hang around with a hothead.
Odds are, you’ll learn his ways, become angry as well,
and get caught in a trap. (Proverbs 22: 24-25 – The Voice)
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Anger Destroys Relationships
I like that advice because it rings true. If all your friends are angry, you probably will become a hot-head yourself. And get caught in a destructive trap. God’s Word tells me there is a heavy price to pay.
Jesus words also make sense. He said, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 – NIV). Don’t let built-up anger extend into becoming tomorrow’s problem. Not necessary. We do pay a high price for our anger. Why?
Anger destroys relationships—obvious, isn’t it? Uncontrolled anger is deadly to relationships like marriage because it undermines trust and respect. A husband and wife can ride out the occasional storm in their relationship as long as trust is not demolished. But unbridled anger destroys a good marriage. To open my life to another person is to make me vulnerable—and random outbursts of raw anger can be terrifying.
We all get annoyed at times—anger is an emotional reaction to what feels like an injustice or hurt. If a partner has betrayed our trust or hurt us, it is natural to feel angry. But it’s not productive to remain in that place. On the other hand, raging over small incidents—such as towels not being folded a particular way or toothpaste caps not on, or losing it when your partner doesn’t like the same music as you—is unhealthy and destructive.
But God, through the work of the Holy Spirit inside us, can bring about a change. And there needs to be change before too much damage is done. Proverbs 29:22 (The Voice) says, “A hot-head provokes quarrels and one mastered by anger commits all kinds of sins.”
Some people say, I was just venting or letting off steam. That can be a cop-out. In a loving marriage, you need to learn to hold back and control your emotions. Otherwise, your anger will do great harm to your marital relationship and frustrate the resolution of any conflict.
A Short ‘Time Out’ Can Help
Another way anger is used destructively is when you internalise or bury your anger inside. Internalising your anger is just as wrong as blowing up and venting it on your spouse. The Apostle Paul taught in Ephesians 4:26 (TLB), “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly.”
To allow the sun to go down on your wrath means that you have not resolved what you are angry about. This command makes it clear that God doesn’t want you to allow anger to boil within your heart even for one night. He wants you to deal quickly with your anger and resolve whatever is causing it before you go to sleep each night.
Sometimes the best thing to do is just to stop a conversation when you realise that it is getting out of control. When you hear the volume start to rise and your words or your mate’s words turn harsh or disrespectful, ask for a ‘time out’ so you both can calm down. A short ‘time out’ can keep your anger from escalating to the point where you both become irrational.
This is exactly what Scripture teaches us to do:
- “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” (Proverbs 20:3 – NIV)
- “Stop contention before a quarrel starts.” (Proverbs 17:14 – NKJV)
Taking a ‘time out’ stops a quarrel before it gets started. This simple step allows both of you to pray and get yourselves under control before an explosion occurs. This means walking away from the confrontation for a few minutes and coming back to try again. If the volume begins to rise in your second attempt, take another ‘time out’. Even Jesus walked away from the emotionally charged confrontation when the Jews wanted to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:28-30).
Eventually, you will learn to control your words and emotions to discuss the issue the first time around.
May God give us a new understanding today—and get his help in dealing with anger issues.