UGH! That little...
Why can't they...
Don't they know....?!?
Those are just a handful of the thoughts and emotions that I've felt when anger is about to take control. And those are just the nice thoughts.
But then I find myself thinking about that one line of scripture that says,"Be angry and sin not"(Ephesians 4:26).
And it got me thinking...is there a better way to deal with my anger? Is it even possible to be angry and not sin?
Why does being angry have to mean being in sin??
I recently came from a season that forced me to examine how I handle my anger, and in turn what God says to do with that emotion.
And the first thing He taught me was that anger in itself is NOT a sin. It's an emotion. It's the same as happy, sad, fear, and excitement. And anything that God creates is good, says so back in Genesis.
God created emotions to serve us with a specific purpose. And anger, much like sadness, is an emotion that lets us know that something is wrong. To make us pause and assess what is wrong and why we feel what we feel.It's okay to feel, but our actions should still be ones that honor God and others.
But, sometimes it's good to be angry. It's okay to be upset something didn't go the way we wanted. It's okay to be annoyed and upset that someone did not treat us well. It's okay to be angry that something happened unfairly.
The emotion is designed to help us take a beat, pause and reflect on why we feel an injustice happened. It can flare. It can swell. But it doesn't have to blow out.
Anger is an outcry for justice, or what we perceive to be justice. Because sometimes anger is simply not getting what we wanted when we wanted it...and that can actually be an indicator of a "personal problem." Perhaps we're having to pause to see that we've been selfish, impatient, or maybe entitled, which in that case, it's an emotion that can actually lead us to repentance-a good thing.
After spending a lot of time mulling over scripture, I finally came to these three conclusions:
1)Remain respectful of the other person at all times
2)Address the conflict in love
3)Pray for their hearts and yours
Romans 5:8,John 13:34-35, and Galatians 5:22-23 are the verses that have convinced me that I should hold my tongue and be kind to others even when I am angry with them. Romans 5 talks of how Christ died for us in the midst of us spitting on Him-knowing that we were going to disappoint Him anyways. John 13 says that the world will know that we belong to Christ by how well we treat others. That knowledge alone is enough to make me pause, but in this season it's Galatians that really hits it home for me. In Galatians 5 it lists the fruits of the Spirit, one of which is kindness. Kindness is choosing to be nice to someone whether they deserve it or not.
It doesn't matter what the other person said or did...it is of the fruit of the Spirit to show kindness to others- to be nice to others whether they deserve it or not.
For me, this is typically where it all starts going downhill. I allow myself to tear down the other person bit by bit with degrading thoughts and sometimes they even come out. And it's the continual hateful thoughts that allow bitterness to take residence in my heart.
Gentle in Conflict
Like I mentioned earlier, anger is an indicator that something is wrong. Conflict could be a part of that. And just because we're Christians doesn't mean that we should avoid conflict or not stand up for ourselves or even others.
Proverbs 15:1 says,"A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath."