Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Anger Management

Phil Ryken asks and answers the question, "What are some godly ways to deal with our anger?"

  1. We need to see how destructive it is, both to ourselves and to others. Unrighteous rage destroys the intimacy between a husband and wife, the friendship between a parent and child, the effectiveness of a work force, or the ministry of any Christian who cannot control his or her temper. People who have what the Bible calls “fits of rage” (Gal. 5:20; NIV) are usually sorry afterwards, but they tend to minimize the real harm that has been done. If we are going to make any progress in this area of our sanctification, we need to see how serious a sin it really is.
  2. We need to take full responsibility for our angry words and actions. The problem is not somewhere outside of us, no matter how often we say that it is. The problem lies inside, where anger first boils in our hearts. The angry father who rages at his children, the caustic wife who berates her husband with angry criticism, the troubled child who scorns his parents, the Little League parent who yells at the ump, the bitter employee who tears down management, the church member who badmouths someone else in the congregation—these angry people always say that someone else is the problem. But the Bible says that their anger itself is the problem: “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires” (James 1:20). And the thing to do with anger, or with any other form of unrighteousness, is to confess it as sin, asking God to forgive us for Jesus’ sake.
  3. We need to examine our hearts to see what underlying idolatries are driving our unpredictable and uncontrollable rage. Typically, when we get angry it is because one of our cherished idols is threatened or has been defeated. Ask yourself, Why am I so unreasonably angry about this? What am I struggling so hard to protect? Then ask yourself if your motivations match God’s purposes for your life. Are you truly angry because God is not glorified, or because you are afraid that your money, your comfort, your reputation, or your security will be taken away? Examining our anger can help us to identify the more deeply rooted sins that are keeping us from bearing good spiritual fruit.
  4. We need to pray for a more powerful work of God’s Spirit in our minds and hearts—the Spirit of patience, peace, and self control (Gal. 5:22–23). God wants to do a more complete work of grace than simply to manage our anger. He wants to master it, and then replace it with kindness, meekness, and forgiveness.

Read the whole thing.

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