Once again, I’m working on my ministerial certification class, and I’ve stumbled upon a great quote about anger.
The very nature of anger promotes exaggerated emotions. We say and do things we never would otherwise….Anger is usually a self-centered emotion. Your attention is turned inward on the wrong you’ve suffered, the wound you’ve had inflicted.
((p. 33 Relationships and Ethics in Ministry by T. Ray Rachels))
I’ve never thought about anger being a self-centered emotion, but it definitely is. Now, anger isn’t inherently sinful. That’s why Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, quotes Psalm 4, “Be angry and do not sin.” Anger isn’t a sin by itself, but because of its selfish core and its dramatic nature, anger can quickly lead to sin.
Our best response to feelings of anger is to take the focus of ourselves and put it on God.
That sounds a bit trite, but it’s so key to responding to hurt/anger in an appropriate way. How so?
1) Looking at God when I’m angry, reminds me how He could have responded to my sin.
2) Looking at God when I’m angry, reminds me that those with whom I’m angry are individuals for whom Christ died.
Anger is a natural response to the pain that we experience in this life, but if we’re not careful, it will result in a natural (i.e. sinful) response. We need to look to God for the power to respond supernaturally so that relationships can be restored.
In all things, let’s follow Christ’s selfless example by being angry but without giving into the selfish pull of sin.
On a more personal note, I recently gave into that selfish pull. I was hurt by someone and gave into anger. Now, I didn’t do this in public, but even still, I gave in. I lost my cool, said things that I now regret, and realize that I have strengthened a bad habit by giving into it one more time.
Take some advice from a recovering rager: give your anger over to God. If you were legitimately wronged, work to restore that relationship through calm, loving, and humble communication. But first, seek God to release you from the fires of anger before you (and those who hurt you) are consumed.