Angry face
Pause for thought

Anger Management

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Have you noticed lately that everything that should be no big deal has become a big deal? 

People are acting miserably toward each other. 

People have become “triggered” over pronouns! 

Everyone seems to be looking for some slight to be outraged about. 

“Outrage” has become all the (ahem!) rage. 

Road rage is a deadly threat when driving. 

Irony and good hearted humor and teasing are absolutely taboo because someone will be offended, for sure!

Anger is an emotion which is properly baked into our makeup as human beings created in the image of God. 

Anger is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or even hostility when things are “not right”. It is the urge to correct what is “wrong” and make it “right”. Even God gets angry — so it should not be surprising that those created in his image have righteous anger built into our DNA!

Psychologists tell us that there are three types of anger which shape how we react in a situation. These are Passive Aggression, Open Aggression and Assertive Anger. Only one of these, Assertive Anger, can be controlled and channeled for good. The two others eventually only lead to destructive damage to ourselves or others.

A good example of Assertive Anger in action is recounted in all four Gospels when Jesus felt compelled to do something to right the egregious wrong that had turned the temple courts in Jerusalem into a hive of extortionists and thieves.

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”  Matthew 21:12-13 NIV Jesus knew that rhetoric or persuasion was not enough to convince the criminal element that had taken over the sacred place to leave and mend their ways. He therefore channeled his righteous anger into action. Notice that this action did not benefit him any way — quite the contrary, it only stoked more opposition to him and his mission — but he could not stand idly by and allow the desecration to continue. He knew that the “right” thing was for worshippers to enter into the temple to worship, not to be robbed. So anger, rightly employed , is a positive force for good! We should be righteously angry at exploitation of the poor, the helpless, at human trafficking, at hypocrisy in religious leaders. However, we are still learning to be more like Jesus, and so the Bible gives us a good deal of instruction on how to deal with our anger. We need to be sure that God agrees that we should be angry and not just mindlessly acting on a pet peeve.  If there is a common thread in these instructions it seems to be that we should not allow a direct connection from our brain to our mouth without consulting the scripture or the Holy Spirit. Some examples: He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. Proverbs 16:32 KJV

He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly. Proverbs 14:29 KJV

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. James 1:26 NIV

If I may quote my own proverbs in this age of Twitter, Facebook and email: “think before you ink!”  “Anger is a dish best served slowly”! If you are not righting a wrong for the benefit of others rather than venting your own frustration, hit the delete key, send it to the trash!

My impetus for writing this column comes from re-reading the letter of James, a half-brother of Jesus and leader of the early church in Jerusalem, to the growing, persecuted church:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20 NIV This is terrific, useful, practical advice. James is saying that we should double check our anger because the instinct of our sinful nature does not lead to an outcome that God wants. Impulsive anger is not only not useful, it is counterproductive to God’s plan for His Kingdom.  There are many things about which we should legitimately be angry and wrongs to be righted in this world, but let’s be sure we check-in with the boss before we lay into them! Let’s practice anger management as directed by the Holy Spirit!

May there be peace and countless blessings on you and yours, Jim Black 

Saturday September 17th, 2022
Saturday September 3rd, 2022