What makes you angry? Lots of magazines and radio shows invite readers and listeners to talk about their pet peeves. We live in a democracy where it is right to get angry. Many times it is anger about an injustice that draws people to action. We all know full well that Jesus got angry and that Paul told us to, Be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). So how can anger become a trap?
Paul does tell us not to sin in our anger and not to let the sun go down on our anger so that we don't give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27). Satan loves us to get angry. Just this morning there have been several issues that I could feel justified in being angry about. For starters my children didn't do the things I told them to do before they went to bed. Then, there was the guy who pulled right into my lane even though there wasn't enough room. Even my dog barks like a maniac and I feel angry. How do I handle my anger in a way that doesn't give Satan a foothold in my life?
1. Entrust Yourself to God who judges justly
This Lenten season has reminded me again of the utter cruelty and injustice Jesus endured. Yes, Jesus did get angry and yes, He did take action about his anger. The organization called MADD Mothers Against Drunk Drivers was created by people who were angry about how drunk driving was devastating lives. That's the kind of anger Jesus demonstrated when He cleared the temple of the markets that had turned God's house, which should be a house of prayer, into a den of robbers.
Yet, there were more times than I can number that He had every right to be angry, still He withheld expressing anger. How did He do it? How did He allow those same religious leaders who had turned God's temple into a house of robbery to tie Him up and mock Him and judge Him without expressing His own righteousness anger with them? Peter explains Jesus response so concisely; When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23).
What can become of my anger against the man in the big black truck who just cut me off in traffic ignoring my right to be on the road? Usually he doesn't hear it, it is only my children who are subjected to my judgment and ridicule of him. It only hurts their ears and brings unrest into my car. You see there are far more injustices than could ever be taken care of by a court of law going on in this world we live it. That's what sin does. It corrupts the whole world. God has instructed us to set up governments and institutions that help us with some injustices, but ultimately you must learn to entrust yourself to God.
2. Listen before you react in anger.
God's advice to us from James 1:19-20 is; Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Keep in mind that God only wants to best for us. That is why His advice will produce righteousness. How many times have you ignored this advice and let your mouth spout off your anger at your husband, your mom or a best friend, only to discover after you sat down and talked it through that you didn't have all the facts? What looked like utter disrespect of you was actually a surprise party in your honor. We could go a long way in discovering what is worthy to express our anger about if we first listened completely, and turned down the speed of our speech and our anger.
God wants to produce righteousness in us. How many times is the way you express you anger a hindrance to righteousness in your life? Here's a suggestion for connecting deeper to God. Each time you feel angry, first entrust yourself to God believing that He will administer justice, not you, then, if appropriate, explore through listening how you might understand the situation better before you express your anger about what is going on. Let your anger connect you more deeply to God's purposes in your life. Watch how Jesus did this almost every day He lived on earth.