Road rage—what a frightening moment that can be. Drivers say road rage incidents are getting worse, and the statistics by one insurance company says Brisbane is the worst place to be for road-rage incidents. But it can happen anywhere, anytime. One figure I read reported eight million drivers in the USA in one year were involved in serious road rage incidents. Young males are consistently the worst offenders.
And it’s not just on the road—different forms of rage happen in schools, hospitals, on planes, public transport and outside hotels. We read about these incidents from time to time. In Melbourne there was a place called The Break Room. You can go inside and vent your rage using a baseball bat on objects, smashing and breaking them. Hopefully, you can vent your rage and get it out of your system.
Why is there so much rage and anger? Why do so many rush into this dark zone where the worst than can happen often does happen, with tragic results. Rage is a raw emotion, and a dangerous one if left unchecked. It can destroy careers and lives in a single stroke, and can have far-reaching consequences. Uncontrolled anger has its nasty fingerprints all over our society. But does it have to be?
Anger is a normal emotion
Anger is a fundamental emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. From a very early age, people learn to express anger by copying the angry behaviour they see modelled around them, and by expressing angry behaviour and seeing what they can get away with. Remember, you cannot eliminate anger. In spite of all your efforts, things will happen that will cause you anger. Life is filled with frustration, pain, loss, and the unpredictable actions of others. You can’t change that; but you can change the way you let such events affect you. Controlling your angry responses can keep you from making yourself even more unhappy in the long run.
Many times, reacting in anger is how we express our dissatisfaction with life. Anger is defined in the Greek language as the strongest of all passions. Anger begins with a feeling that’s often expressed in words or actions. We feel something and it causes a reaction. Dealing with anger is especially difficult when the anger and rage outbursts happen again and again. This is known as anger addiction or rage addiction. These patterns are hard to stop, and the results are devastating to everyone involved. It’s very complicated. destroying relationships, and alienating lifelong friends. Rage is the most hostile and dangerous stage of anger.
Everyone has been mad or angry at some point in their lives. Though it’s OK to be angry, the Bible warns us not to sin when we’re angered. But when anger turns into rage—that’s when the line has been crossed. So you need to deal with anger immediately—don’t allow it to fester and boil over.
Anger in the Bible
What, then, does the Bible—this very real book—tell us about anger?
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“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end,” says Proverbs 29:11. James wrote, “…let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19). He isn’t saying that anger is wrong. Of course, we’re going to get angry; that’s just part of how we are made. Essentially, James just said, Don’t be quick-tempered.
The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians almost the same thing: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” (Ephesians 4:26). Like James, he was realistic. After all, anger is part of life; just don’t let it carry you into sin. In these passages and many others, the Bible is basically saying to lead a balanced life.
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 19:11: “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” In other words, balance gives a sense of discretion in life. And, it is the mark of wisdom to be able to overlook perceived wrongs. A few verses earlier, Solomon wrote one of the great principles of balanced living: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
As in many other scriptures, the issue is not anger, but how much it controls us. Being slow to anger is a mark of strength, mastery, and leadership. Self-control—ruling your spirit—brings more leadership and success than being able to capture a city. Paul told the Christians in Ephesus: “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
The Bible has wise advice and teaching. Ephesians 4:26-27, in the Amplified Bible, says: “When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].” Refuse to give the devil any opportunity to get a foothold in your life through anger.