Victory over Anger in an Angry Land
Anger. It’s all around us. In the air, in the news, on the streets, for many—far too many—it’s in the home, the workplace, the classrooms. Even at ball practice. Is there no place that is safe from anger?
I’m still alarmed by how it has become acceptable to erupt in anger. It seems all restraints have been dropped and people feel free to spew hate and vitriol toward anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if innocent people are caught in the blast.
It doesn’t matter that the opposite view has no direct impact on the speaker, or even that the “opponent” has not yet spoken. Hateful words and actions are used as weapons to intimate and shut down unwanted opinions.
Anger is damaging to the speaker and the target. The environment has become toxic and the toxin spreading, in spite of calls to change the tone.
Anger is swallowing up peace and joy, leaving fear in its place.
What is a Christian to do in such an angry environment? How do you be a light in the midst of such darkness?
God gives us some guidelines in the Word. He tells us to “cease from anger and forsake wrath,” warning that “it only causes harm” (Ps. 37:8)”
What are we suppose to do if we don’t want to respond with anger and don’t want to cause harm?
Don’t respond to anger in the spirit of anger.
- A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger (Pr. 15:1).
- I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also (Matt. 5:39).
- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you (Eph. 4:32).
- Be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing (1 Pet. 3:8b-9).
- A gift in secret pacifies anger, and a bribe behind the back, strong wrath (Pr. 21:14).
If someone fights me, I instinctively fight back. It’s against my nature to respond in kindness or to turn the other cheek when someone is hateful toward me, much less to bless them, but God told us these things because they are for our good. They are the path for restoring righteousness, peace, and joy around us.
The secret to finding the grace to follow God’s directives is found in Psalm 4:4, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” It isn’t in our nature to not sin when angered, but it is in God’s. As we meditate on the Lord and let Him reign in our hearts, He will help us respond in righteousness rather than in anger.
His grace is available to us and so is His power. When we fight back in anger, He leaves the battle to us. When we trust Him and respond with a gentle answer, turning the other cheek, or blessing the aggressor, He will pick up the fight for us.
In Genesis 15:1, we’re told, “the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” He is our shield. He will protect us. We can be still, knowing that He is our safe place from anger.
It is good to keep the above directives in mind, but we are still crippled with the instinctive nature that when someone challenges us, our normal reaction is to fight. We do it without thinking about it.
A more sure way to be a peacemaker is to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor—even the hateful one—as ourselves. Love is patient, kind, is not offended when provoked, and isn’t rude. Love suffers long (1 Cor. 13).
Love is slow to anger, and “he who is slow to anger allays contention” (Prov 15:18). Indeed, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Prov. 16:32).
We cannot wave a magic wand and rid the land of anger. However, we can seek refuge in the Lord and draw from Him to gain personal victory over anger. As more and more of us learn to do that–and thus learn to respond with a soft answer–we can impact the world.
Uprooting Anger: Destroying the Monster Within will help you identify roots of your anger and apply God’s solution if you nee further help finding victory over anger,