July 10, 2020
Make Anger Your Servant…Not Your Master
Yesterday, we talked about how anger is not necessarily the result of doing something wrong, dysfunctional or sinful. Jesus and God expressed anger many times, so we know anger can be positive and serve us well. But we are still left with the important question, “What causes anger?” We often assume that our anger is caused by situations like 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 a situation precipitate the feeling of anger. Nevertheless, 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 lens through which we witness or experience each event. That’s what 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 jungle and saw a tiger, I would get angry, sad, worried, and frightened. That’s an example of a good warning system letting me know I’m not safe, and it pushes me to action. Without negative feelings, I would probably walk along merrily and be 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 as we respond. God has given us free will to control our feelings, thoughts and actions. Will we choose unkind words and find a way to “get even”? Or will we problem-solve and forgive? It’s our choice. Despite our backgrounds or the current circumstances, we are responsible for our own behaviors. We can’t blame them on our emotions.
Unfortunately, we often let anger rule us. It becomes the main influence on our decision-making. Anger serves us well as a warning system. However, anger is a very poor master. None of us expresses our feelings appropriately all the time. However, the Bible tells us in Philippians 4:13, “For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.”
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 do not, your warning system (anger) will continue to alert you until the problem is resolved. Let Jesus help make anger your servant instead of your master. Follow His attitude, actions and teachings. The Lighthouse Network resource, Edging Forward’s Emotions: Good or Bad, helps you understand your feelings, their roles, how we misuse them and how we can soothe them and then steward them well for our benefit and God’s glory. Whether you use you anger to function better or you let it ruin you, it’s 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 how to access it easily. Help me to follow You 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