Freedom from Anger
By: Dudley Rutherford
Do you ever get the feeling that we’re getting angrier as a society? Just read or watch the news on any given day, and you’ll see stories of road rage, violence within families, and senseless bloodshed. The anger caused by politics seems to be on another level in recent years, and the ease and anonymity of the online comments sections (including social media) have emboldened so many to voice their anger in astonishing ways.
On a personal level, do you struggle with anger? Are there moments when you lose your temper with your family, or while driving, or when dealing with uncooperative inanimate objects? It’s like the guy who finally received in the mail a thesaurus he had ordered online. When he opened its pages, they were all blank. He had no words to describe how angry he was! All jokes aside, many of us struggle with some form of anger, and it’s a serious issue. If you are a Christian, it can ruin your witness and give the devil a foothold in your life.
In the Bible, we see anger rear its ugly head for the first time in Genesis chapter four in the story of two brothers: Cain and Abel.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’”
But Cain did not get control over his anger and jealousy, and as a result, he murdered his own brother. Perhaps this one reason why Jesus placed anger on the same level as murder in Matthew 5:21-22—because if left unchecked, anger can lead to tragedy. Proverbs 29:22 says,
“An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.”
When we’re angry, some of us blow up while others of us clam up. Whichever way you normally respond to upsetting situations, there is no question that anger hardens the heart. Ephesians 5:26-27 instructs us in this manner:
“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
Here are four steps to conquering anger:
God’s fruit. When you give your life to Jesus and follow Him, you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:19-26 tells us that the fruit of God’s Spirit working in our lives is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. These virtues are in complete opposition to anger. Consistently feed your spirit through Bible reading, prayer/quiet time with God, worship music, and serving others. In doing so, your spirit will win out in battles against the flesh, including defeating outbursts of anger.
Glorify God. Before you speak or act, you should always ask yourself one question, “Will this glorify God?” If each of us did this important self-check, it probably would cut our words, actions, and social media posts in half. First Peter 2:12 says that we are to live such good lives that when Jesus comes back, those who didn’t believe can’t help but to give glory to God.
Get the plank out of your own eye. We often critique everyone else, yet fail to see our own flaws and faults. This skewed view of other people lacks grace and compassion, and it leads to anger. In Matthew 7:5, Jesus said we need to get the plank—basically the 2’x4’—out of our own eye before we try to take the speck out of someone else’s eye. This takes humility and self-reflection; it also involves staying in the Word of God so that it, like a mirror, can show you the things that needs to change within your life—by God’s grace.
Give forgiveness freely. Lastly, we are called to forgive others just as God, in Christ, has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation, but it brings grace and peace to the heart, which extinguishes anger like a bucket of water dumped on a campfire. God only knows how much better we’d all be if we could extend more forgiveness and harbor a whole lot less anger, and hope these tips will encourage and equip you to do just that.
Pastor Dudley Rutherford is the author of the upcoming book, One Thing (available for pre-order on Amazon), and the senior pastor of Shepherd Church, which has three campuses in the Greater Los Angeles area. You can watch services online or connect with Dudley at www.LiftUpJesus.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.