Anger Part 2 - What To Do Instead Of Giving In To Anger

If you haven't read last week's post, Anger Part 1, start here

Anger is a knee-jerk reaction. It's the fight half of our flight-or-flight instincts. When we're hurt, we strike out to hurt back in equal measure. Someone pushes our buttons, so we fly off the handle in an attempt to retaliate.

You and I have both had experiences like these before. Maybe recently. Anger is a hard emotion to keep in check because it's so primal and natural the human mind and body. It's also one of the easiest to justify, simply because we feel like we're doing exactly what we need to do in the heat of the moment: fight back.

But do you really feel like you've won after one of these angry encounters? You've vented, let off steam and put the other person in their place, so you should feel like you've come out on top, right?

What? You don't? Weird.

As I have suggested here many times, it's a good discipline to read one chapter in Proverbs every day. There are 31 chapters, so you can read one a day each month and then start over. When you do, you'll start to notice patterns and themes weaving through them, and one of those that is prevalent is getting your anger and your spirit under godly control.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Proverbs 25:28

In Bible times, a city without walls would have been attacked, destroyed and pillaged with little effort. The wall provided an obstacle between the people and the enemy, giving the city's inhabitants a few precious moments to prepare for battle. Those minutes the plunderers spent climbing or pulling down the wall would allow the people inside time to assess the situation, come up with a protection plan and get on the necessary armor to protect themselves.

So if your spirit is like this unwalled city, anger - along with many other out-of-control emotions - will come and go as they please. And they won't just come in to eat in your favorite restaurant and check out your shopping mall. If the enemy has easy access to the center of who you are, he will twist and distort things until you feel like you've been through a war. Without the protection of godly self control standing as a wall around your heart, anger will take over in every difficult situation.

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

Solomon equates having self control with being able to keep your anger at bay. The two go hand in hand - the more you have of one, the more you can cultivate the other. Godly control is what keeps you from yelling, from making poor choices in the words you say and from using that tone of voice you know you use when you're over-the-top angry. Control of the spirit is what tells you to listen and understand instead of being judgmental. Control says hear them out and give them the benefit of the doubt when your flesh says cut them off at the knees.

It's important to understand that there is nothing inside of us that will make this control just happen. The human flesh is full of sin and anger and other nasty things, not holiness and meekness and self control. Instead of looking deep within, as some would say, take your eyes off yourself and put them on the truth. Pray that God will take away your anger and your bitterness. Pray that He will replace them with love and compassion and understanding. Without you being filled with all that is His goodness, you'll never make a permanent change.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1

This is one of the Scripture I have highlighted in pink in my Bible - the way I designate verses that are especially important to women. You're probably familiar with the "housetop verses" in Proverbs. There are several places that speak of a man wanting to live in the corner of the roof if it gets him away from an angry, argumentative wife. Many jokes have been made about these verses, but at the heart of every joke is a kernel of truth.

So if your first reaction is to yell or pick a fight, Scripture says form a soft answer instead, one that will calm everyone and diffuse the tense situation. If you feel like blasting someone with your anger, turn away from that response as quickly as you can. Grievous words, words that hurt and churn up more anger and bitterness, are poison in your heart and destructive to any relationship.

Do you want to be the one who stirs things up in anger or the one who chooses the soft answer in the midst of a spiritual battle? Will you add fuel to anger's fire, or would you rather be the water hose that saves the entire forest from going up in flames? If you're praying for the Lord to change you and help you be more loving and compassionate when anger rears its ugly head, you will soon find that he's replacing those ugly emotions with His grace. And when you're filled to overflowing with His grace, it will always spill over onto everyone around you.


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