“An angry person stirs up dissension.”
Proverbs 29:22, NET Bible
Recently, I came across a few Christian and non-Christian friends who had difficulties in expressing their anger. They appeared to be miserable. It is common for people to get angry for various reasons.
Once, God asked Jonah: “Do you have the right to be angry about the vine?” Jonah replied, “I do”, and he continued: “I’m angry enough to die.” (Jonah 4:9, CEV)
We are no better than Jonah when it comes to anger. We all struggle to manage our anger. Our usual excuse is “this is me and my way”. Some of us are known for our anger. Others are proud of their anger.
We see people raising voices, yelling at others with abusive words, slamming doors, breaking things, throwing objects, hitting, kicking the floor, and assaulting or hurting others in expressing their anger.
Anger is a basic emotion. It is common to all of us though we express it differently. The Bible does accept this emotion. But it also warns us of uncontrolled expression and the damaging consequences of this anger. “ ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27) “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:22)
Our ways of expressing anger may be the result of our childhood upbringing. We grew up with these ways of expressing anger and our parents never checked them. People have left us to grow with anger. Our anger has become our defence mechanism. We have hurt people, lost relationships, destroyed marriages, lost our Christian witness and got into strife because of our anger.
“An angry person stirs up dissension.” (Proverbs 29:22, NET Bible)
Our anger has become one of the hindrances for our spiritual maturity, “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20).
People who are frequently angry tend to develop more physical problems, particularly in the areas of heart and blood pressure, stomach and intestines, and the nervous system.
Our anger is at times destructive. When we get angry, adrenaline flows. We feel hot, become flushed, and are worked up. Anger in fact generates some energy but, sadly, it is directed to destructive purposes. When angry, we become violent and act out of proportion, with excessive anger. Some have ended up in prison because of it. We feel guilty only after we see the destruction and damage it has caused.
The Bible says: “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26) Let us not carry on with anger for days and months and years. The burden will only get heavier and heavier.
Let us try to find out what triggers our anger (persons, places, frustrations, irritations, etc.). We need to be alert and stop being angry when these things ring alarm bells in us. The Psalmist calls us to calm down in times of raging anger: “When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” (Psalm 4:4)
It is not healthy for us Christians, if our anger is affecting our lives and those around us constantly. We need to accept that we have a problem in dealing with anger. It is better to acknowledge before God our struggle to control our anger and seek God’s help. It is possible only if the Spirit of God controls our temperament. We need to seek the fruit of the Spirit rather than the act of the flesh.
Our God will certainly bring healing in this area. May God help us to overcome our anger. “A wise man brings himself undercontrol.” (Proverbs 29:11, World English Bible) Let there be gentleness seen in us.
The Rev R. Prabhu was elected President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) in 2012 for the quadrennium. He is also Pastor-in-Charge of Ang Mo Kio Tamil and Seletar Tamil Methodist Churches.