[e-Devotionals] 2003-11-12 - Anger

Fatal Distractions Series, Part 3

“Patience is better than strength. Controlling your temper is better than capturing a city.” Proverbs 16: 32 (New Century)

Anger is a secondary emotion caused by other primary emotions. A primary emotion is what we feel first, and then comes anger. We may first feel hurt, frustrated, afraid, offended, disrespected, pressured or trapped.

Recently in a video store with my ten-year old son, I went through a rapid descent into anger. It was Friday, work had been stressful, the line was long, I was tired, stressed and my son was excited. My goal was to get the movie, get home, get away from people and get calm. I could not find my membership card, so I handed the man my driver’s license. “Sorry, your name is not in our computer.” “Yeah, I know - it is in my wife’s name.” Then he tells me "sorry, she does not have you listed as a member". Primary emotions: Feeling frustrated, offended and disrespected. Secondary: ANGER!

I proceeded to use some inappropriate language that the entire store heard. I lost my cool and became controlled by anger. And of course, that anger led to my sins in the store.

As we returned to our car, my son said, “Dad that was cool how you let that guy have it.” Not cool. Something was broken inside of me. Anger reared its ugly head and took me straight down a sin-filled road.

Can you think of a time that anger caused you to sin? What was the primary emotion that led to the anger? Was it hurt, frustration, fear or something else? Can you think of ways we can avoid sin caused by anger?

Jesus and Anger

“He looked around at them angrily, because he was deeply disturbed by their hard hearts.” Mark 3:5 (NLT)

Jesus was angry with the church leaders for being insensitive to man's suffering and God’s grace. Jesus’ anger, however, did not lead to sin. It led Him to heal a man and show God’s grace.

Jesus in the Temple

So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked around carefully at everything, and then he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he went out to Bethany with the twelve disciples. Mark 11:11 (NLT)

I am sure Jesus was hurt and frustrated by what he saw in the Temple, but notice that He showed restraint, postponed his response and went away to Bethany. I imagine that while in Bethany he considered the possible consequences of his anger and prayed to the Father about His anger. His anger led Him back to the temple the next day.

When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from bringing in merchandise. He taught them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.'” Mark 11:15-17 (NLT)

Jesus did not sin due to his anger. Rather, he used anger to capture the people’s attention, and then He taught them God’s purpose for the Temple.

Anger can be an emotion that causes us to take action for a good cause. Unfortunately we humans usually sin when anger takes control. Can you think of times when your anger was used for a good purpose?

God's Strategy for Anger Management

  1. Consider the Consequences

    A person with a quick temper stirs up arguments and commits a lot of sins. Proverbs 29: 22 (Contemporary English)

  2. Postpone Your Response

    A person who quickly loses his temper does foolish things, but a person with understanding remains calm. Proverbs 14: 17 (New Century)

  3. Think Before You React

    Foolish people lose their tempers, but wise people control theirs. Proverbs 29: 11 (New Century)

    When someone wrongs you it is a great virtue to ignore it. Proverbs 19: 11 (Today’s English)

  4. Show Restraint

    If you stay calm, you are wise, but if you have a hot temper, you only show how stupid you are .Proverbs 14: 29 (Today’s English)

  5. Release the Anger to God
    Jesus said, “But I can guarantee that whoever is angry with another believer will answer for it. Whoever calls another believer an insulting name will answer for it. Whoever calls another believer a fool will be in danger of the fires of hell.” Matthew 5: 22 (God’s Word)
    “God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1: 7 (New Century)

Anger causes many sins. Think of a specific time in your life when anger caused you to sin. Was it with your spouse, kid, co-worker, friend, and stranger - or perhaps even God?

What Was the Consequence?

  • What would have happened if you just postponed your response?
  • How did the anger keep you from thinking before you reacted?
  • How would having restraint help the situation? What would the other person’s reaction have been to your restraint?
  • What are some practical ways to release our anger to God?
  • Memory Verse for the Week: “Man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" James 1:20 (NIV)

James is telling us that anger does not produce in us what God desires from us. Anger is a God-given emotion designed to protect us. It can cause great harm to relationships, resulting in broken friendships, destroyed families, loss of employment, physical harm, and loss of life.

  • What changes do I need to make in my life to be more at peace with others and God? Do I need to ask someone for forgiveness?
  • What changes will help me to handle primary emotions in a manner that will help me stay off the sliding slope to anger and sin?
  • What area(s) of my life is (are) out of balance?

Seek God’s help through prayer.

One practical step I will take this week to control my anger will be to:

David Massey

[email david] david@e-devotionals.org