Being Good and Angry (4)
6. Unresolved Anger Puts Distance Between Us and God.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (v. 30)
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit lives in you. But when you allow anger to build up in your life it repels the influence of the Spirit. Your anger is keeping Him from working fully in your life.
Imagine it this way – Let’s say someone is teaching you to play the piano. You start off with a great deal of enthusiasm and energy and make some real progress in a short period of time. Then after a few months you get distracted, you stop practicing and you forget why you started playing in the first place. Your teacher begins to notice that your playing is suffering and he asks you, “Are you sure you want to play the piano?” You say, “Yes”, but over the next few weeks you continue to ignore what you have learned. How long do you think your teacher is going to invest into you when you fail to practice what you have learned? The answer is not very long.
Well the Holy Spirit works in a similar way. When we fail to put into practice the things the Spirit is teaching us, the Spirit takes a step back in our lives. His voice becomes silent and His influence less evident. Unresolved anger blocks the impact of the Spirit in our lives. Anger limits how God can use us and keeps us from becoming the person God designed us to be.
Summary: Anger is a normal emotion. God designed anger for a good purpose – anger serves as a warning light, a warning light that must be resolved. When anger is not resolved it can result in doing things we normally would not do, saying things we normally would not say and broken fellowship with God.
Now that we have looked at anger more closely, I want to share with you three ways you can learn to avoid the negatives and experience the benefits of good anger. Let me share with you three ways to be Good and Angry.
The only way you will know if anger is a problem in your life is to stop and do a self exam. Doctors recommend that we examine ourselves physically to detect any abnormalities before they become a problem. Likewise God wants us to examine ourselves spiritually to detect any feelings of bitterness or unresolved anger before they become a habit.
Ask yourself: “How do I express my anger?”
Psychologists have identified four basic ways that we learn to express anger:
1. Maniac (exploder)
A famous golfer was out on the links instructing his son when some reporters came up to him. The reporters began to ask the young boy some questions about his father’s game. One reporter ask, “What has your father taught you when you hit your ball into the rough?” The boy was hesitant to answer the question so his father said to him, “Go ahead Son! Show them exactly what I do when I hit the ball into the trees?” The boy looked again at his father then suddenly took his club and threw it into the water.
You see his father was an exploder. When things didn’t go his way he would over react and take his aggression out on whatever was in front of him. Some of us are exploders.
2. Mute (imploder)
This is the person who is determined never to get angey. Instead of expressing healthy anger he/she bottles it up inside and pretends as if nothing ever bothers him. Someone once said, “When I learned to swallow my anger, I later realized my stomach kept count.” Some of us are imploders.
3. Martyr (inflictor)
Like Eyore, this is a person who is excellent at throwing pity parties. They secretly enjoy being disappointed and feel uncomfortable when things are going well. Their anger is repressed and later manifests itself as depression.
4. Manipulator (exploiter)
This is the passive aggressive personality. Like Lee Iacocca when he was fired from Ford said, “I don’t get mad, I just get even.”
When it comes to anger, this is what kind of person you are. But what kind of person do you want to be? When you have an vision of the kind of person you want to become, you will be more motivated to make the necessary changes. You will have a better idea of what needs to change when you know where your character is headed.
Secondly once you identify how you express anger…
STOP and THINK.
When you find yourself in a situation that could cause you to loose your temper ask these three questions:
1. Why am I angry? Sometime the reason is not obvious but lies deep below the surface. Anger is not always the root problem but a symptom of a bigger problem. When little issues cause you to over react you might be dealing with residual anger. The pain and frustration of past events could be causing you to become angry over petty issues. At this point it is important to seek the guidance of a trained counselor, someone who can help you get to the core issue and encourage you to go to Christ for healing.
2. Is it worth getting angry about? Not everything that bothers you is worth expressing. It is important that you learn to pick your battles carefully.What do I really want out of this encounter?
3. When you think through it logically, where do you want the situation to go? I love email. I think email is great. When I get frustrated with someone or a situation I sit down and write an email describing the problem and the solution. Then I save it in my, “To be sent folder.” I leave it there and read it the next day. 9 times out of 10 I never send the email. Sometimes just writing things down and coming back to them the next day is all the resolution you need. Sometimes anger won’t bring about the result we are hoping for.
REPLACE YOUR ANGER.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (vs. 31-32)
When you are sick or have a virus the first thing you do is try to get rid of it. You might drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest or take medications that will combat the effects. Paul is saying when you harbor anger inside do everything you can to get rid of it. Like a virus it wants to gain supremacy over your life but you need to do all you can to replace your anger with something more powerful. What is the one thing that will help you get rid of your anger?
Learn to FORGIVE.
Forgiveness releases the person who has hurt you and gives the pain to God. Forgiving is not forgetting but it is letting go of the pain caused by another person or an event. Forgiveness is not a “one-time event”. If you are going to effectively resist the bitterness that can so easily build up in your life, it has to be a daily exercise. This is part of taking up your cross daily to follow Jesus.
When one of my children commits an offense against his brother, the offended one tends to get angry and retaliate. Then they both get into trouble. The offended one then (usually) gets upset at me because he also got into trouble. I try to reinforce the idea that it is acceptable to become angry at his brother. It is not acceptable to seek vengeance. You see, he has neither the power nor authority for that. When he asks what he should do, I tell him to bring that offense to me or his mother. We do have the power and authority to handle the situation. This is what our own response should be. We should take our offense to God. Only He has the power and authority to truly handle the situation. And you can be assured He will treat it with both justice and mercy. This is the real benefit of forgiveness. Letting God handle your offense releases you from the pain and bitterness that most likely will grow if you do not.
How can you learn to replace anger with forgiveness?
1. Believe that anger is a rational choice! People can provoke you to become angry but only you can stay angry. Anger in the end is a choice you have made.
2. Look to the Holy Spirit to empower you. Confess to God that you have not expressed you anger in healthy ways. List the different events where you allowed the situation to be out of control and ask God to forgive you. When you have agreed with God about where you need to change the Holy Spirit will become a strong force in your life for change.
3. Remember, Jesus forgave you!