Is it okay for believers to get angry, or mad or just toss their hands up in absolute frustration over a situation?
Blended families are prime territory for emotional eruptions between spouses, kids and in-laws. The stress placed upon new families trying to make a new start by avoiding old problems often lead to situations where words are spoken in anger that are not soon forgotten.
I’ve been there. Maybe it was dealing with our kids, or a crisis situation in law enforcement, or an occasion in public where a stranger just decided to make your day turn really crummy for no reason.
We feel it as it either wells up inside or strikes like a hot bolt of lightning – ANGER.
And just when you feel yourself begin to cool off, you hear the good old stand-by, “A real Christian wouldn’t behave like that.” It never fails to spike the emotions. Do “real” Christians get angry?
Let’s look at the reality of anger and what God says about it.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Stay Calm And…
This isn’t a call to action in favor of getting angry. God encourages and makes the qualities of controlling your emotions very clear as an association of maintaining a peaceful spirit. However, God also knows that in our humanity, emotions run the gamut from deepest adoration to most vile wrath.
It is the turning of anger into a seething wrath that leads to sin and therefore the separation from God that is not an acceptable emotional response to any circumstance.
The sentence’s immediate location of the command, “do not sin,” is purposeful and serves to bottle cap the sequence of angry emotions. While it is human and okay to become riled up emotionally over an issue, do not allow those emotions to cause you to sin.
God also gives you a deadline on resolving your anger – before you rest for the night. It’s critical that:
- You do not allow those emotions to fester into something more serious and lasting
- You do not force someone who you may have aggrieved with your words to languish in worry without resolution.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Solomon made it very clear how to maintain the peace. He encouraged offering soft words that did not provoke others to take defensive positions, or launch counter-attacks against you. In times of discourse, hard words or insults were not the answer to resolving issues.
Believe me, I’ve encountered thousands of situations over 26 years in law enforcement that were so violent, angry and hate filled that my only options were to talk it out. Words either soothed and resolved or ignited and inflamed already high-risk scenarios.
I know it may require biting your tongue, but it’s better to feel that sting than to lose a loved one over the temptation to blurt out a hurtful string of damaging words. Take not only the “high” road, but the “highest” road by following this biblical truth. Offer words of calm, control and de-escalation in tense times.
Applying this principle doesn’t make you weak, it places you in a better position to control the outcome.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Pretending James had offered this advice over social media today, it might read something like this:
“Yo my Facebook peeps – much luv, but I gotta vent: Y’all just need to chill and stop playing back to all these crazy posts. Social media trolls just gettin’ in your head with nonsense. Sharing this hate only help it go viral. Ain’t the way to show the Big Man’s luv. Peace out peeps!”
lil’ Jim @1:19-20 (plz retweet/like/share)
I’ll confess that sometimes when Leah has an issue that stirs both of us, I immediately want to jump into “Man Mode” and fix it. I wouldn’t take the time to listen to her words, so therefore I didn’t truly understand the problem. That formula often led to either:
- Elongating the issue
- Compounding the issue
- Interjecting an erroneous solution that now created a brand new issue.
What Is He Really Saying
One of James’ many key points is that anger does not produce the righteousness of God. You may feel better pounding your chest in the beginning, but that’s soon rendered useless as the issue continues to exist.
I’ll go back to my cop days to share that I’ve witnessed many confrontations where one party will insult or physically attack the other party, and then look at us and ask, “What they said?”
Please, don’t be that person. Think twice before allowing that old uncontrollable tongue to write a check that your body can’t cash.
Ideas for responding before, during and after angry encounters:
- If you’re able to, pray with the person you have tension with. Confess your inability to communicate without feeling emotional about the topic. Ask God to lead you both through a conversation without either provoking or losing tempers.
- If you’re in the “heat of battle,” and you’ve allowed hurtful words to fly, then stop immediately and apologize. A quick, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say that.” Goes a long way in turning the tide of the crisis.
- Post-conflict is when the damage to yourself becomes the most evident. You might grind your teeth or clench your fists until fatigue takes over. Listen to what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26-27 – You must process that anger before it consumes you with wrath against another, guilt against yourself, or worst of all, sin and separation from God.
In the words of my old SWAT partner, “Get right – Quick.”
PS: Your kids are also watching you and learning how to “handle” situations.