Respectable Sins: Anger | Part 7

Angry Birds

In the last post in this series, I looked at the long-term results of anger. In this last and final part on anger, I  talk about how to deal with our anger so it doesn’t escalate

How do we keep our anger from escalating?

Often anger left to brew will manifest itself in different ways. It may start as resentment, move to bitterness, then enmity and hostility, and on to a grudge before turning into strife. We, however, have to stop anger from running this path. We can do that by remembering and reflecting on a few things:

(1) Remember God is Sovereign 

God allows situations to occur in our life that have the potential to make us angry. Instead of allowing anger to take over and run its course, we should remember God has a purpose for everything. When we find ourselves in a situation where we are tempted to become angry, we should ask ourselves what purpose could this situation have in my life?

Admittedly, the question is an easy one to ask. The answer, however, doesn’t always come so easy. Think about Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was imprisoned in Egypt because Potiphar’s wife couldn’t have her way with him. He was forgotten by the cup bearer and left in prison to rot.

During that time, I am sure Joseph wondered what purpose all this had. Why God allowed this to occur in his life. For years, he didn’t know why. Eventually though, he discovered its purpose. It was to make a way for God’s chosen people – Israel – to survive a severe famine. A famine that couldn’t be foreseen or predicted.

God has a plan for everything that occurs in our life. We may never know the answer to the question why, but we can rest in the fact that God is sovereign and in control. Knowing that should help us deal with our anger before it escalates.

(2) Pray God would allow us to grow in our love for others, even those who have wronged us.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that:

Love is not…rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.”

The NIV translates “resentful” as “keeps no record of wrongs” and “it is not irritable” as “is not easily angered.”

You can see why it is important we pray for love. It helps us forget and wipe the slate clean, as well as it keeps us from being easily angered.

So if you find yourself angry at another, pray that your love for them would increase. It is a sure fire way to kill your anger and keep it from escalating.

(3) Forgive as God has forgiven us

The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35 teaches us that our forgiveness of others is based on God’s forgiveness of us.

If we are having a hard time forgiving someone who has wronged us, we need to turn to the gospel. As we do, we need to remember God forgave us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8).What a great truth! God forgave us why we were still sinners.

While we would admit what God has done is awesome, I believe we often miss the greatness of this verse. I believe that for two reasons.First, because it is a verse we have read and quoted so many times. Second, because we don’t realize the true nature of sin.

Sin is more than missing the mark. It is more than breaking a few commandments. Sin is an all out attack on God’s right to rule. Our sin can be compared to a band of rebels storming the castle with the intent of removing the king from his throne in order to set their own king in his place. When we sin, that is what we are doing. We are storming God’s throne room with the intent of setting our own selves in His place as the ruler of our lives.

Paul tells us that while we were sinners – rebels – God forgave us of our sins by dying in our place. If God can extend forgiveness to rebels who are attempting to overthrow Him, certainly we can find a way to extend forgiveness to others who have sinned against us.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What else can help to keep anger from escalating?

Resources

Post adapted from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 121-28

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Respectable Sins: Anger | Part 6

Angry Birds

In the last post in this series, I looked at the reasons we get angry at God. Today we explore the long-term results of anger.

The Long-Term Results of Anger

If we let anger bake long enough, something is going to come out of the oven. What that something is depends on how long you allow your anger to remain in the cooker. Here is a list of what you might expect as a result of your anger:

(1) Resentment – Resentment is anger that arises and builds because of unfair treatment.

It is usually manifested internally. And it can occur for a number of reasons. A boss overstepping at work.  A wife dominated by an overbearing spouse. A kid bullied on the playground. All these can cause resentment, especially if the person feels like they can’t change the situation.

(2) Bitterness – Bitterness  is a feeling of ongoing animosity.

When resentment is left to soak, it can grow into bitterness. How do we know when resentment has moved to bitterness? A tell-tale sign of bitterness is unforgiveness, and a greater degree of ill will is often expressed toward the person resented.

(3) Enmity and Hostility – Enmity and Hostility represents a greater degree of ill will toward the person. Whereas, bitterness is often “to some degree marked by polite behavior, enmity or hostility is usually expressed openly. Often it is in the form of denigrating or even hateful speech toward or about the object of the animosity” [1].

(4) Grudge – A grudge is a persistent feeling of ill will toward another.

Grudges occurs when anger and unforgiveness have occurred for an extended period of time. It results in hostility and a desire for revenge.

(5) Strife – Strife is open conflict or turmoil between parties.

Strife can occur in a number of settings:

  • Families
  • Churches
  • Communities

Because it involves multiple individuals who have formed themselves into groups, it especially needs to be eradicated. Not only for peace and safety, but because it hurts our witness for Christ in the surrounding community.

Unchecked and Undealt with Anger Escalates

These categories show us that anger left to bake heats up. It escalates over time. What starts out as resentment moves to bitterness, then to enmity and hostility, next to a grudge, and finally into strife.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you noticed your anger escalating if left unattended?

Looking Forward

In the next post in this series, I will talk about how to deal with our anger so it doesn’t escalate.

Resources

Post adapted from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 121-28

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 132.

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Respectable Sins: Anger | Part 5

Angry Birds

In the last post in this series, I answered the question: How do we show our anger? Today I will look at reasons we get angry at God.

Anger Toward God

Anger toward God usually stems from thinking God has let us down, or that God is actually against us.

Even though people get angry with God, it is never ok to be angry at God. It’s not ok because anger toward God means we are making a moral judgment. We are accusing God of wrongdoing and sinning against us. We are accusing Him of neglecting or treating us unfairly.

Thinking God has neglected or treated us unfairly means we believe God owes us a better deal in life than we are getting [1].

How do we deal with anger against God?

First, realize we don’t have to stuff our feelings and live in alienation from God.

Second, we have to trust in the sovereignty, wisdom, and love of God.

Third, we should bring our questions to God in prayer. When we pray, we should do several things.

  1. Admit we are confused by the situation and we are having a hard time seeing God’s love in what we are going through.
  2. Ask God to help us trust Him.
  3. Ask God to strengthen us so we don’t fall into the temptation to be angry at Him [2].

Fourth, we have to remember God is a forgiving God. Our anger is not unforgivable. Jesus paid the price for our anger towards Him on the cross. We can rest knowing even if we get angry with God, forgiveness awaits. Isn’t that amazing?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe you deserve better than what you are getting?
  2. Are you angry at God?
  3. Have you gone to God asking Him to help you understand your situation?
  4. Are you amazed that God forgives even our anger?

Looking Forward

In the next post in this series, I will talk about the long term results of anger.

Resources

Post adapted from Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 121-28

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 127.
[2] Ibid.

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