How to Handle Anger Pt. 3
by Charles F. Stanley
Scripture: Ephesians 4:29-32
I. Introduction: Anger itself is not sinful. Many biblical characters, including the Lord Jesus, became upset, so we know it’s not always wrong. Our reaction, however, can be sinful. When we respond to anger in inappropriate ways, we can bring emotional, physical, and spiritual devastation on ourselves and others. How, then, should we handle this powerful emotion in a way that will please the Lord?
II. How do people handle anger?
A. Repression: We deny that it exists.
B. Suppression: You and I recognize that anger is there, but we refuse to deal with it.
C. Harsh outbursts: Some individuals may make excuses for themselves, saying, “This is how God made me” or “I just have a short fuse.”
D. Self-control: The right response to anger is to exercise restraint through the power of the Holy Spirit.
III. How should we deal with anger?
A. Confess it. Denying your feelings will only cause you to stay angry longer. Whether or not you acknowledge the emotion, its poison will continue to affect you. By harboring anger, you will never know the fullness of peace and joy that a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring.
B. Identify the nature and source. If you don’t identify the root of the problem, you could lash out at someone who did nothing wrong. For instance, people who were abused by one of their parents sometimes resent all authority figures, including pastors.
C. Purpose to deal with it quickly. Satan wants you to dwell on your negative feelings so they will grow. But Scripture says to deal with your anger (Eph. 4:26-27). In some instances of extreme pain and suffering, you won’t be able to get rid of hostility before the sun sets. But you should acknowledge your feelings and decide to deal with them. You shouldn’t just accept rage as a natural response and allow it to become part of your life.
D. Do not sin. It is possible to get angry without sinning (Eph. 4:26). In fact, anger can motivate us to take necessary action or right a wrong. Consider the example Christ set for us (Matt. 21:13-14; 23:13-33; Mark 3:2-5).
E. Take a time out. Make a purposeful decision not to react quickly, because your first impulse will likely be an unwise one. Give the other person time to talk. Then you will be able to respond in a godly manner. You and I should strive to be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19; see also Ps. 103:8).
F. Clarify and analyze the situation. Has somebody hurt those who are mad at you? Are they frustrated, insecure, jealous, or fatigued? You can use similar questions to analyze your own feelings as well. Getting to the root of the conflict will help you know how to address it.
G. Deal with the problem. When anger is unchecked, it will turn into bitterness (Prov. 30:33). So if you can’t get rid of this emotion immediately, make a commitment to seek healing.
H. Ventilate. Secular psychologists often recommend freely expressing negative feelings. But as believers, we must carefully consider how our words affect others. So I recommend venting to the Lord. Get on your knees in a private place and tell God exactly how you feel. He will begin to work in your heart and draw you toward forgiveness.
I. Put it away. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” We should “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12). Both of these actions are possible only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
J. Replace it. Harness the energy that anger gives you. Use it to wax your car, hit golf balls at the driving range, or clean out a closet.
K. Determine the benefits. The positive side of anger is that it can motivate us to take constructive action, such as fixing problems. (See “D” above.)
L. Prevent a wrong response from recurring. We can’t always avoid antagonistic feelings, but we can control how we react to them. Decide ahead of time how you will act in challenging situations. Determine to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become upset. (See “E” above.)
M. Stay away from hostile people. Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.” Refrain from starting relationships with those who are constantly irritated.
IV. Conclusion: Our world is full of injustice, hurt, and rejection. People cut us off on the highway, betray our confidence, and harm those we love. It’s impossible for us to avoid all the causes of anger. However, you and I can choose to respond to this powerful emotion in a way that will honor the Lord. When the Holy Spirit enables you to extend forgiveness to others, you will enjoy the supernatural peace and joy God desires for all His children.