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Cooling the Raging Fires of Anger

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Ralph Sorter


            “I’d be just fine in an argument if I didn’t have to use my tongue.  If anything is going to get me in trouble, it’s my tongue.”  Sound like familiar words you can identify with?  Our tongue is engaged just about as fast as our mind works.  The problem is that we don’t stop long enough to think whether those words are the words we really want to speak, and thus they are out of our mouth doing the damage before we can retract them.  Even the effort of trying to retract them does little for damage control because the other person is already aware of how we feel and think.

            I have a theme verse for all those who struggle with anger: Prov 15:1  “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” 



Understanding Anger

1.      Anger by itself isn’t wrong.  It’s an emotion God created.  But it can get out of control and cause problems.  Eph. 4:26 says, “Be angry, but sin not.  Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath.”  Here is our first principle: resolve issues where anger cropped up before you go to bed.  If we don’t, Eph. 4:27 says we give the Devil an opportunity to use the hurt of our anger even more.

2.      Anger is aroused when our progress toward a desired goal is blocked, we experience a hurt, frustration, or fear.

3.      Anger can be hidden and held inside or expressed openly.

4.      Anger and hostility are the chief saboteurs of the mind.  They are a significant factor in forming many diseases, misery and depression.

5.      Anger can be controlled.  Eph. 4:31 says to “Put away anger…” thus we can channel our mind to think uplifting thoughts.  See Eph. 4:29

6.      We can learn to channel anger so it is constructive in motivating us to correct injustice or to think creatively.

7.      Anger is a deed we do in the flesh.  Gal. 5:19-20  And self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.  Gal. 5:23

8.      We need to evaluate what aroused our anger because it often results in distorted perception.  We need to be careful here because our anger is righteous in our own eyes.  There might not be anything wrong if we calm down and get all the facts.

Looking at God’s Anger

1.      Anger is an attribute of God, only He does not sin with it.  So if we look at how God channels it, we can reap the positive benefits of it too.

2.      The Bible never criticized God’s anger, but it frequently warns against our anger.

3.      God never misinterpreted a situation.  He never lost control.  He never reacted too quickly.  When He did get angry, He never acted with wrongful vengeance.

4.      We sin with our anger when we have vengeance in our heart, verbally abuse, hide the facts that are true, are dishonest or lie.

5.      God’s anger is consistent and controlled.  It is expressed at unrighteousness.

6.      His anger is not a flare-up of passion.  It is carefully calculated and then channeled in the direction of evil.  Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6

7.      His wrath is never unjustified.

8.      His anger is handled in such a way that it is always consistent with His love and mercy.

9.      God restrains His wrath to give wrongful man time to repent.  2 Pet. 3:9

Learning to Control our Anger

1.      The first step is to acknowledge our anger humbly.  Identify the source of the anger.  Did you jump to any conclusions?  Is your anger really justified?  How would others view this same situation?  What can change to reduce your anger?

2.      Confession of your anger and asking forgiveness is the first step to heal those wounded by our anger.  Do this before the sun goes down.  Eph. 4:26

3.      Mentally withdraw from the gunfight.  Avoid an angry mindset.  Don’t look for the worst.  Don’t criticize.  Avoid negativity.  Remember hostility is ugly.

4.      One of the best ways to change a faulty thinking pattern that leads to anger is to memorize Phil. 4:8.  Memorize this for LIFE!

5.      Carefully word your frustration.  State the injustice.  Phrase your hurt in a non-threatening way.

6.      Slow down your reaction.  Speak slowly.  Turn down the volume and emotions.  Intentionally pause and calm your thoughts.  Flex your muscles (so they can relax).  Mentally tell yourself to relax.  Prov. 15:1

7.      Learn from your anger.  How did we get here?  What triggered it (hurt, fear, frustration)?  What were the gun power words that set it off (so we don’t go there again)?  What were the words said that you wish you could take back (decide not to use them again)?  Record all these observations immediately so you can learn from them and reflect later on how to back off of your anger.

8.      De-cue your spouse.  Share with your spouse the non-verbal signs and behaviors that set you off.  Don’t make the other person feel inferior.  Determine to eliminate the cues that set your spouse off.

9.      Grow spiritually.  Gal. 5:22-23 states peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control are some of the fruits of listening to and being guided by the Holy Spirit.  Let the Holy Spirit slow down the strife in your mind and heart.

10.  Develop a plan for stopping the escalating cycle.  It needs to be a plan that disengages the conflict and decides how to handle the problem later.  Make a commitment to not yell and raise your voice.  Neh. 5:6-7

11.  When a person admits they are angry, thank them for that recognition and ask them what you can do that would help them right now.

12.  Ask your partner to help you with your anger.  Work on what got you mad and then what in turn made them mad.  Learn from your anger.

Preventing Anger

1.      Do a word study in the Bible on anger.  It has a lot to say, so learn from it.  Pick a Scripture or two to memorize that are appropriate for you.  Refresh that Scripture memory often – for life…or until you have conquered your anger problem.  Pay attention to God’s anger and Jesus’ anger – learn from them.  Learn from the negative examples in Scripture.

2.      Avoid anger-arousing situations and people.  Prov. 22:24-25

3.      Lean to evaluate when the situation got out of control.  How did the other person handle the situation the way you wish you would have?

4.      Respond by channeling your energy to intentionally responding calmly.

5.      Don’t blame the other person.

6.      Don’t make statements you will regret later.  Use neutral language without gun power words.

7.      Insolate yourself from cutting remarks.  “I’m not going to respond the same way you are talking to me.”  I’m not going to escalate this.  I’m not going to let you drag me into this fight.”

8.      Don’t ruminate over thoughts that feed your anger.

9.      Replace hot thoughts with cool thoughts…less critical thoughts.  Change faulty thinking patterns.

10.  Learn to confront and disagree in a non-threatening way.  Speak with love.  Eph. 4:15

11.  Learn to listen to the Holy Sprit and let Him control your tongue and heart.

12.  Remind yourself of this thought: “My spouse is not my enemy.  They are my best friend, and it does not help either of us if I treat them as an enemy.”

13.  Develop new problem solving skills, communication skills, and decision making skills.

14.  Redirect the focus from, “Who is right or wrong?” to “What behaviors were involved and how did they affect us?”

Resources used:

Christian Counseling – A Comprehensive Guide, by Gary R. Collins, Ph.D., Word Publishing, 1980.

Marital Counseling: A Biblically Based Behavioral, Cognitive Approach, by H. Norman Wright, Christian Marriage Enrichment, 1981.

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