“…it is not easily angered…” – 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV).
Anger is an emotion that we are all familiar with. It is important to learn how to control this feeling, so it does not overtake our lives.
Anger can feel uncontrollable if you don’t have a grasp on it. And it is hard to have a grasp on it when it doesn’t seem like it’s your fault. You have been lied to, betrayed, and hurt, so you feel you have every right to be angry. You can find yourself with two voices arguing in your head: One trying to convince you were justified in feeling angry while the other is trying to persuade you that mercy was the right choice. The loudest voice is often the angry voice.
Anger is frequently addressed in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.” Or Proverbs 16:32, which says, “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” Or again, Proverbs 29:11 “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” In every area of life, including managing your most powerful emotions, God tells you to be quick to listen to Him, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
In chapter 20 of Numbers, Moses is attempting to lead the people of Israel through a desert, there is little to no water to drink and the people and the animals are all very thirsty. Moses goes to God and asks for help and God responds with a specific set of instructions with a limited number of steps: Take your rod; get your brother Aaron; gather the people before the rock, speak to the rock, give everyone a drink. But Moses lost his temper and struck the rock twice even though God had told him to simply speak to the rock.
That act of anger cost Moses dearly. Numbers 20:12 says, “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” When you know the story behind all of that it’s pretty hard to blame Moses for getting angry. The Israelites were chronic complainers. Nothing could please them. Miracle after miracle was not enough.
We all get angry. It’s unavoidable. There’s really no way to not get angry. Anger doesn’t want you to pause, it demands a reaction. It wants you to throw caution to the wind; say what you want to say and do what you feel like doing. The key is to deal with your anger…appropriately. When you detect anger in yourself, slow down, step back, zip up your lips, and take control of your mind. Then turn your disappointments, offenses, frustrations, and hurts and the anger they cause over to God. Determine that you will do whatever is necessary to make sure that anger doesn’t control you. “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm.” (Psalm 37:8)
- How do you deal with anger? What is the typical outcome of your anger?
- Proverbs 14:29 says: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” What does that verse mean to you?