Dealing With Anger – David Hibbert
What Is Anger?
What an interesting question! Everyone gets angry, but few can describe exactly what it is.
The best definition that we could come up with is “A strong emotional feeling of annoyance based on a violation of something we value and therefore we believe is wrong or bad for us or others.”
Is Anger A Sin?
Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV – (26) “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (27) and do not give the devil a foothold.
This verse is clear that we can be angry and not be sinning. However, unresolved anger (don’t let the sun go down while we are still angry) can give the devil a foothold, and bring us into a place of sinning.
Jesus was angry with the money changers in the temple, but He did not sin.
Matthew 21:12-13, NIV – (12) Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. (13) “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'”
God was angry with the Israelites when they worshipping the golden calf, but He did not sin.
Exodus 32:11, NIV – (11) But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?
Moses got angry at the same event, and he did sin.
Exodus 32:19, NIV – (19) When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.
Moses, in his anger, broke the two tablets that God had just inscribed. As a result, God make Moses chisel out two new tablets by his own hands, with a hammer and chisel. (Exodus 34:1).
Said another way, we can have a “righteous” anger that leads to change, or an “unrighteous anger” that leads to sin.
When Does Anger Become A Sin?
Anger becomes a sin when it leads us to sin. If, in our anger, we violate one of God’s laws, or we damage ourselves or someone else (or something else), that anger becomes sin.
When anger moves us to cross a boundary that causes harm or damage to us or to someone else, that anger becomes a sin.
And remember that many of our sins due to anger are subtle, like giving someone the “silent treatment”, or avoidance of dealing with a damaged relationship, or sharing damaging gossip about others.
Why Do We Get Angry?
If we are going to deal with anger, we need to understand why we get angry.
The core reason we get angry, is because one of our personal boundaries has been crossed, or something we value has been violated.
Said another way, one of our expectations was not met, and so we feel threatened, devalued, or that an injustice has been done against us.
How Do We Deal With Anger So That We Do Not Sin?
So, how do we deal with anger, so that we do not sin?
- Be Sensitive To Irritations And Frustrations
Every anger starts with an irritation or a frustration. A frustration is a warning that anger may be coming. If we can address the situation while it is still just an irritation or frustration, we will avoid much anger in our lives.
The normal process for anger development (although it may come quickly) is experiencing an irritation, which leads to a frustration, which leads to an indignation, which leads to anger, which leads to action.
- Confess The Anger
We must not deny our anger – that will only allow it to grow and fester and bring harm to ourselves or others.
So we must be willing (and able) to evaluation our feelings, and admit our anger as soon as it comes.
- Take A “Time Out”
If we feel that we are about to react due to our anger, we should take a time out.
Just say, “I’m feeling angry right now. I need to take a time out, and figure out why I am so angry.” I’ll talk to you again in a little while.
- Cool Down
How do we cool down?
First, we disengage from the anger and tension, by taking a time out.
Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV – (26) … Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (27) and do not give the devil a foothold.
Second, we can do a little physical activity, like go for a walk, get on a treadmill, etc.
- Do A Self Examination Of Your Expectations
Next, we need to examine ourselves. Why was I feeling angry?
What was my expectation that was not met? Did I expect to have a need met? Did I expect to be treated a certain way? With respect or sensitivity or understanding?
Was my expectation reasonable? Was my expectation too great? Was my expectation viable (able to be met by the other person)?
What value was being violated, when I felt the anger coming? Does the other person understand and value my value? Should they?
Also, what was my part in this situation? Did I contribute any way to the conflict, either now, or in the past? Am I willing to take 100 % responsibility for my part (no matter how small) of the conflict? Do I need to confess my fault, make an apology, or even make restitution for my part?
- Confess The Unmet Expectation To God
Confess the unmet expectation to God.
Try to expose all unreasonable expectations, and surrender them to God.
Repent and ask God for forgiveness if the expectation was unreasonable.
- Speak To The Person When Not Angry
Ask God for wisdom if the expectation was reasonable, in how to communicate that expectation to the other person.
Confess your feelings of anger and frustration to the person, in a gracious way.
Explain clearly why you felt angry, and what your expectation was.
Ask for forgiveness if your expectation was not reasonable … or not clearly communicated to the other person.
- Seek A Mediator
If the relationship is not restored, seek a mediator.
However, remember the goal of a mediator. It is not to force agreement or compromise, or to “sweep everything under the rug” or “just put it in the past”.
The goal of a mediator is to help each person fully understand the expectations and values of both parties.
They are not to force agreement or compromise. Only the offended parties can decide if they want compromise or agreement, if they still want relationship, in order to restore peace.
- Choose To Live In Peace
Romans 12:18, NIV – (18) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
We cannot live at peace with everyone person. We can only extend peace to the other person, as much as it is possible for us. It is then up to the other person, whether they will extend peace back to us.
Surrender the expectation to God, if the person is unable to meet that expectation.
Choose to forgive the person, if they are not able to meet the expectation.
Choose to show respect and grace to the person, even if they do not share your expectations and values.
- Live With An Attitude Of Gratitude
Choose to live in a constant state of gratefulness, for those who do share your values, and who are willing and able to meet your expectations.
The best way to deal with anger, is catch it while it is still just an irritation or frustration, and before you act on your anger. However, once you have reacted, try this 9 step process to restore relationship “as far as it depends on you”.