May 30, 2013
Yesterday, we talked about how anger is not necessarily because we are doing something wrong, dysfunctional, or sinful. Jesus and God had anger many times and so anger can be a positive and serve us well. But we are still left with the important question, “What causes anger?” We often assume anger is caused by a situation in which we find ourselves. We might think that it’s a rude driver, an unfair criticism, or a friend’s betrayal. In reality, the answer is “nothing” around us causes anger, even though these situations are usually followed by our own angry reactions. In fact, the angry feeling is actually our own doing. You see the lenses we use to view situations precipitate the feelings of anger. But we usually blame others for “making” us feel that angry way.
Let me give an example to help clarify. During a basketball game, if my team scores a last minute, game-winning basket, I am excited. But someone rooting for the other team who experiences the same event may actually be angry or frustrated, or have other negative emotions immediately after the shot goes in. The event, a made shot, doesn’t cause the anger. If it did, everybody experiencing the event would be angry. You see, the difference is the lenses we use as we witness or experience each event. That’s the key ingredient that determines our emotional response.
Understanding this key point is so freeing and eye-opening. Anger (or any negative feeling) is a great warning system. Anger lets us know when something is not going right or when potential danger exists. If I were in the woods and saw a tiger, I would get angry, sad, worried, and frightened. That’s an example of a good warning system letting me know something is not safe, and it pushes me to action. Without negative feelings I would probably walk merrily through the woods and get devoured by the tiger.
When someone insults us or treats us badly, we should get angry. That lets us know a problem exists in the relationship and needs to be addressed. Hopefully, we look at our options and choose appropriate options with which to respond. God has given us free will to control our feelings, thoughts, and actions. Will we choose unkind words or find a way to “get even”? Or will we problem-solve and forgive? It’s our choice. No matter what our backgrounds or the current circumstances, we are responsible for our own behaviors and we can’t blame them on our emotions.
Unfortunately, we often let our anger rule us. It becomes the main influence on our decision-making. Anger serves us well as a warning system. But anger is a very poor master when we let it become our decision-maker in any situation. None of us express our feelings appropriately all the time. But the Bible tells us, For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. Philippians 4:13.
Today, notice when you feel angry and STOP! Then thank God for a great warning system. Then look past the anger to the actual problem the anger warned you about and address it. If you don’t, your warning system (anger) will keep on alerting you until the problem is resolved. Let Jesus help make anger your servant instead of your master. Follow His attitude, actions, and teachings. Emotions: Good or Bad helps you understand your feelings, their role, how we misuse them, and how we can soothe them and then steward them well for our benefit and God’s glory. How you manage your anger is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, thank You so much for my anger, and all my negative feelings. It is awesome to know You gave me a warning system that alerts me to problems and danger. When I get angry, help me to choose the Godly response … the one that is pleasing to You. Teach me to control my anger, to have patience, to problem-solve, and to forgive. Thanks for Your soothing Spirit when I feel angry and show me where to more easily access it. Help me to allow You in when I feel this pain. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who teaches me how to handle all things well, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. Proverbs 19:11