The emotion of anger can be a puzzling one. Puzzling because of the way it makes us feel, which can put us in conflict with what we know about the love of God we are supposed to be exhibiting in our lives as God’s people. Then we read such scriptures as James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (20) For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. And then we read Psalms 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. And of course we read the last recorded words of Jonah in Jonah 4:9 …I do well to be angry, even unto death. So, can we be angry or not?
What to Do in Times of Anger
The first thing we must understand is that anger is a natural emotion that everyone feels, including God. So, with that in mind, the goal isn’t to get rid of all feelings of anger (good luck with that), but rather to better deal with it before it becomes destructive to relationships and to other people.
Mark Merril (1) gives the following five reasons not to go to sleep angry: 1) Bricks are added to the wall that divides you as a couple. 2) It’s harder to have a fresh start the next day. 3) Less sleep hurts your health. 4) Unresolved conflict impedes sexual intimacy, short-term and long-term. 5) It sends the message to your spouse that you value “winning” the argument more than preserving your relationship.
These are all good reasons not to go to sleep angry. Thousands of years ago, the Apostle Paul addressed the topic of anger this way in Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. This puts a time limit on us to deal with our anger. God says, “Address it before you go to sleep”. Someone may say, “Well, I’ll stay awake for three days before I talk to them about what they said or did!” Really, God is not saying “Wait until you are about to go to sleep” as much as He’s saying, “AT THE LATEST, let it be before you go to sleep”.
Dealing with anger this way has several benefits. 1) It clears the air of any tension and misunderstandings. 2) It allows you to focus on more productive things in your life…like enjoying your life (anger and bitterness rob you of joy). 3) It brings the unity back into the relationship, and on and on…
How to Properly Deal with Your Anger
There is a place for anger in our lives. This is what causes us to make a stand for our convictions, demand justice to correct an injustice, etc. The Apostle Paul again deals with anger in Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
This phrase “…give place unto wrath…” entails to give a space of time so that anger may be dispelled before acting rashly in response to it. As one man used to say, “If you have to…take a walk”.
When giving Pastoral counsel, especially in relationships, this is ultimately the direction in which I guide people. After getting through the details of what has been bothering them, how they can best adjust their response to those things, and what they can do to address the things in themselves that bother the other person, I will then advise each person to just allow the other person to be “wrong”, without letting anger overtake their actions. This gives both parties the opportunity to grow into their new ways of being. This is what the word of God means when it says, “…but rather give place unto wrath…”.
Are there some ways that YOU could more properly deal with anger in your life?