Saturday, February 18, 2012

Part Six: Dealing with Anger

Our ability to forgive involves gaining victory over anger.

Anger can be useful or destructive. It is like a weapon with purpose in the hands of a policeman but destructive in the hands of a criminal and dangerous in the hands of a fool. It can be an instrument in God’s hands or a tool of the devil detrimental to our spiritual life. It can give courage to overcome insecurity and fear, or it can be a harmful instrument for venting selfish attitudes and inflicting pain on those who have injured us. Anger can be a response to perceived injustice or it can cause an irrational loss of control in those feeling victimized. Righteous indignation has its place, but human nature easily uses it as an excuse to justify bad behavior. It becomes an obstacle to unforgiveness, and hinders our ability to gain victory over the past. The Bible says we should “be angry and sin not” and not let the sun go down on our wrath. The wrath of man deceptively gives the individual a false sense of being an instrument of God. But the Bible warns us that the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. (James 1: 20; Ephesians 4:26).

The Wrath of Man
When in conflict we must remember that the wrath of man does not do what is right, nor does it desire to. When we walk in God's ways, we make room for God to work by the Spirit. When we walk in the flesh and vent anger we hinder God's righteous judgment, we hinder the redemptive process for others, and we choke our own spiritual life.
Below is a list of principles associated with “the wrath of man.”
1. Man's anger is an inducement to thoughts and actions that are displeasing to God. Galatians 5: 20
2. Man's anger usually stirs up strife. Proverbs 29: 22
3. Man tends to sin in his anger. Ephesians 4: 26
4. Man's anger tends to be without godly reason and is usually driven by revenge, filled with resentment or hate. It wants to hurt rather than redeem. Matthew 5: 22
5. We try to deceive ourselves into thinking our anger is accomplishing something in behalf of truth and justice; but in reality wrath pursues its own ends, not God's.
6. Some people get a "high" out of being angry, and are disappointed when they discover their “enemy” is innocent of the charges.
7. There is something inside people that derives some twisted pleasure from anger and enjoys the excitement of it.
8. Don’t expect a person who is controlled by anger to be reasonable. A person controlled by anger has no rule over his own spirit. Proverbs 25:28. This might explain why Balaam argued with the donkey instead of being surprised that the donkey was talking.
9. A person controlled by anger and resentment will seek to condemn. He will make others feel they are always on trial, always having to prove themselves, yet always expected to fail.

Joseph’s Example
“And when Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘Perhaps Joseph will hate us…’ and they sent messengers to Joseph saying ‘… I beg you please forgive the trespasses of your brothers.’”
“And he [Joseph] comforted his brothers, and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 45: 1-8; 50: 15-21)
By human standards Joseph could have become the “poster child” for anger and unforgiveness, but the scripture gives no indication that he ever embraced these attitudes. We never see Joseph angry. Instead, his life epitomizes the redemptive work of God in the face of mistreatment and adversity. He forgave everyone who betrayed or harmed him.

The primary determining factor in his life was not the mistreatment he received from people, but the hidden purpose of God which overshadowed everything else until it was revealed in due time. Unforgiveness derails us into a world of hurt and irresolution, but forgiveness joined to faith and perseverance moves us inexorably to the purpose of God.

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ ” Luke 23: 34.


Joseph Holbrook said...

good article. Most people don't realize how destructive anger can be.

Billy Long said...

Thanks, Joseph.