About two years ago, I wrote about Christian Anger Management and listed my shortcomings. (To read that blog, go to Are You in Need of Christian Anger Management?).
It proved to be one of our most popular blogs because it wasn’t just about me, it was about all of us and our rush to anger.
Anger management is defined as “the process of learning to recognize signs that you’re becoming angry, and taking action to calm down and deal with the situation in a positive way.”
Christian anger management is all that, but also knowing you can prevent many kinds of angry flare-ups by asking God for calm and intercession.
The short fuses that triggered my anger were so sad, that even I almost started crying.
To counter that slippery slide downhill, I resolved in 2015 to “Love Like Jesus.”
I proclaimed it like a Hollywood movie première, with searchlights setting the dark night aglow.
Well, that première is over but Ani and His anger issues continue to play to curious audiences.
Are You Running to God or Away from Him?
What have I learned in the last year?
I learned that the more I rush toward anger, the farther I run away from God.
How am I doing?
Well …. Let’s just say the flesh doesn’t die easily. Rushing to anger means we’re still married to the flesh.
I have learned a little more patience in life, but not enough to make me a pantheon of Christian calm.
I have grown a little more spiritually, but not enough to where I am worthy to tie Jesus’ sandal.
How far do I still have to go to reach my goal of being near anger-free?
About as far as Columbus had to sail to reach the New World.
We All Get Angry and Fall Short of the Glory of God
But Ani, you say, nobody is anger-free. We all get mad.
Precisely my point. All we can do is to control our rush to anger and realize why we get angry, and what sets off our trigger points.
When we get outraged, it underscores how married to the world we are and how deep in the flesh we stay.
The root causes of anger are like bowling pins.
We often think, “If I can just knock each one down…”
Rarely does anyone get a strike. Many of us roll a gutter ball.
Most of us throw a spare, as in, there is plenty of anger left to spare.
Until we are in our resurrected bodies, we will all be provoked to anger.
As Christians, we have to ask God to help us recognize what makes us angry.
We need to be more like Jesus, and you know how tough that is.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “most like Jesus,” I think I grew from a 3.5 to a 4. Modest growth, but growth nonetheless.
If I were a newly planted tree, I might have sprouted a twig and one green leaf in that year.
Do These 15 Things Make You Angry Too?
We all have anger triggers. So, what triggers my anger?
I have come up with a list. See if you can identify yourself in them.
1. Drivers who are slow, distracted, or plain terrible.
2. Pedestrians who are slow, distracted or plain terrible.
3. Old people who talk too slow; young people who talk too fast.
4. People with no patience because they remind me of me.
5. All television commercials.
6. Being in the Book of Leviticus too long.
7. The wife and any sort of honey-do list. If you are a wife, you probably will say, the husband.
8. Authority types, particularly bosses and politicians.
9. Food that’s too cold.
10. Food that’s too hot.
11. When Costco runs out of free samples just as I arrive.
12. All kinds of relatives.
13. Feelings of betrayal.
14. Not owning a car.
15. Owning a car.
Of course this list can be endless, which is another point I’m trying to make.
Many things make us angry. It’s in our DNA.
When we get angry, we love playing the blame game.
I could blame my gender makeup for being easily annoyed.
But is that a fair blame when, as Christians, we’re to “reckon the old man dead” when we become new creatures in Christ? (2 Cor. 5:17)
I’ve been a new creature in Christ for more than 30 years. But the “old man” seems to sit on my shoulder, eager to get annoyed, become impatient, or slowly simmer over some slight like a tea kettle threatening to boil over.
I could blame people. Some are very annoying, but then so am I. Just ask my wife.
Proverbs 14:29 tells us, “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.”
I want to be like Jesus, but I’m not Jesus. The best I can do is pray for understanding and follow God’s Word:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
When we stop to realize just how much God forgave sinful man by sending His Son to die on the cross in our place, then it becomes difficult to get angry over many slights.
Is There a Place for Righteous Anger?
Not all anger is bad, however. There is a place for righteous anger.
There is a place for just anger in society. Anger brings about change.
Without anger, we can’t grow as a people.
After all, Jesus in His anger overthrew the tables of the money changers in the temple (Matthew 21:12). Additionally, He showed irritation at the Pharisees for their hardness of heart (Mark 3:5).
Who would not get angry over the 1.2 million babies aborted every year in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics?
Who would not get angry over Islamic radical groups like ISIS and their trademark beheadings of Christians?
Who would not get angry over government’s continued incursions into controlling religious freedoms, and not just in America?
Who would not get angry over the injustices we see in the world today?
I love the British fighting spirit of World War II. During Hitler’s bombing of the English Isles, they had a saying to keep up morale: Keep Calm and Carry On.
OK, now try this one on for size: Keep Calm and Trust Jesus.
If the grace of Jesus rescued us from sin, then His grace is sufficient to rescue us from red-hot anger.
Surefire Ways to Keep from Getting Angry
Anger, by default, helps us to acknowledge how much we need Jesus in our lives, for greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
I now realize that the quicker I am to anger, the farther I am from God.
I need to run after HIM, not towards what makes me angry.
I sometimes forget just how much God loves me.
The day I stop taking God’s love for granted is the day I will be that much slower to anger.
The day I come to grips with the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made dying on that cross on my behalf is the day the “anger-triggers” begin to disappear.
The day I spend more time praising Jesus and less time complaining is the day when unhealthy anger will be banished to the sidelines.
And the day I give all my thoughts and all my desires and all my problems to God is the day I will be as close to “anger free” as I will ever be.
“Give it to God” is more than a bumper sticker. It’s paramount to a calm life.
Next time you feel provoked to anger, think of Jesus, that while He was being crucified, He was able to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross.
That makes all our unrighteous anger issues pale in comparison, doesn’t it?