Thursday, May 17, 2007

How Can I Control My Anger?

We have been looking at the subject of anger. Today, I want to ask another question—“How can I control my anger?” I have at least five ways to suggest in controlling anger.

The first is put others first. Anger that is sinful is selfish—it is focused only on self and lashes out at others when self has been violated. So to control this sinful anger, you need to put others first. Paul said in Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” The last part of that verse is key. In order to “be kindly affectionate...with brotherly love,” you have to give “preference to one another.” This means, putting others first before yourself. Paul told the Philippians in 2:3-4 that this was the key to their unity in the church. He said, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Here in this passage, he commands them not to do anything by way of “selfish ambition or conceit.” But he doesn’t stop there. He continues by calling them to humility. Putting others first involves humility.

Notice a second way we can control anger—use discretion. Proverbs 19:11 says, “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook a transgression.” Do you overlook it when someone sins against you? I know that’s not easy but this is also key in being “slow to anger.”

A third is to practice patience. We all have prayed for patience at one time or another. But believe it or not, it is needed to control anger. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” Be one who is “slow to anger.” Don’t return evil for evil. Paul says in Romans 12:17-21, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

A fourth way to control anger is to live without conditions. To do that you must love others unconditionally. We are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 which speaks about love. Notice what Paul says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” To love this way, means you set aside your expectations of others and seek to be this yourself. That means you “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Rom.12:9).

A fifth and final suggestion is to practice the example of Christ. Jesus was all of these and more toward others, especially His enemies. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:21-23, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Peter says that He did not sin (v.22), nor did He speak with deceit (v.22). When He was reviled, He did not revile in return (v.23), when He was suffering, He did not make threats but committed Himself to God (v.23).

Oh how we need to respond like Jesus! Let’s learn from Him today and control the anger that so easy hurts those we love as well as fuels fire among our enemies. Let’s practice the example of Christ. We will consider our last question in our next blog, “What do you do when you blow it?”

No comments: