Get a Handle on Anger

By Ken Simpson

The world has gone mad! Uncontrolled expressions of anger and hatred are exploding in homes, in schools, on the interstate, in office buildings, at stadiums and coliseums and yes, even in the Lord’s house. It’s escalating into an epidemic in our society affecting the way we think, feel, and act.

Now it’s true that not all anger is sinful. There is a righteous anger modeled by Christ as He cleared the moneychangers from the temple. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not.” However, the problem comes when we fail to control or manage our temper.

Uncontrolled anger leads to wrath then to malice, all of which we are to put off (Colossians 3:8). It simmers while being suppressed deep within, but eventually rises with an explosive outburst. Raising its ugly head with a frown and clenched teeth, anger forces a mouth to open and moves the tongue to quickly shoot off words that can never be retrieved. Uncontrolled anger always makes the mouth work faster than the mind.

Anger Hurts Others

So let’s face it—angry people hurt people. Whether intentional or not, it’s a fact. Angry words cut so deep that time may not heal. Many children have thrown tantrums that paralyzed the spirits of their parents. Angry spouses divorce and divide their families, leaving their children angry because they are caught in the middle.

Take for example, Christina, who wrote to me after I preached a youth camp she attended. “My parents are going through a divorce. I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I feel it’s all my fault and that maybe if I were never born, this would not be happening. It makes me really angry when they put me in the middle of things.” Your temper affects more people than yourself, so watch it.

Anger Acts Foolishly

Solomon said that angry people speak and act foolishly. “He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated” (Proverbs 14:17). Have you ever noticed that angry people have few friends? It might be because “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression” (Proverbs 29:22).

Another possibility may come from this old proverb that says, “The emptier the pot, the quicker the boil.” The Bible declares in Proverbs 22:24-25, “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways and get a snare to thy soul.”

It’s been said, “The best way to get rid of a hothead is to give him a cold shoulder.” Well, the bottom line is, anger is not attractive so watch getting bent out of shape so easily.

Five Anger Tips

Here are five practical tips to get a grip on anger:

Call Time Out and Pray.

Take a walk and think about a proper response. Read and memorize scriptures that speak to anger. This takes extreme discipline. Ask yourself some practical questions—“Is it worth the battle?” “Was I wrong?” “What difference is this going to make in my life three days from now?” Some battles aren’t worth fighting; others that were fought may deserve an apology.

Accept the Inevitable.

Accept things you can’t change and don’t fret about them.  I will never forget the first funeral I preached. It was my rookie year as pastor. Within my first month, one of our charter members passed away; a frail 92-year-old lady who loved the Lord. The visitation and the service were both scheduled the same morning at the church.

The funeral director was the first to arrive and quickly brought the body into the sanctuary before the family visitation. When he opened the casket, he yelled, “Oh my!” I quickly asked from the rear of the auditorium, “Is there a problem?”  “Yes,” he said, “We have the wrong body!”

You have heard that you will never be late for your funeral. I learned that’s not always true. The funeral director was embarrassed by this situation but thankful that the grieving family accepted the situation and even found some humor in it.  They accepted a situation they couldn’t change. Remember, sometimes it’s proper to just laugh and go on.

Guard Your Thoughts.

Referee your thoughts and actions. When your anger begins to fly out of bounds, yell, “Foul!”  Don’t chase after those thoughts and actions that seem to bring revenge—they’re just not worth it. Some things don’t deserve a response. An escalating argument can reach a point of diminishing returns.

One of the worst times to respond to something is when you are angry. Cool off and count to 10. If you are really angry, count to 100, then don’t speak.  Remember, “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Proverbs 29:11). Pay attention to what is going on in your mind.

Maintain Self-Control.

If it were essential for our mental health to express all anger by shouting, screaming or punching something, then the Word of God would be mistaken in urging us to develop self-control. This doesn’t mean you swallow anger and pretend everything is fine when it isn’t. You must be disciplined enough to control your actions and reactions.

Proverbs 20:3 states, “It is honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.” Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Anger will put your Christian testimony and reputation on the line, so deal with it properly before it gets out of control.=

Deal Promptly with Your Anger.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Timing is everything.  The sooner you deal with your anger the healthier you will be. Don’t nurse a grudge.  Nothing justifies an attitude of bitterness. Suppressed anger has led many people to have headaches, high blood pressure, stomach disorders and other physical ailments. Anyone who angers you controls you.

Yes, the world has gone mad—easily angered, seeking revenge and retaliation. That is why Christ has called us to be salt and light. Christians must season the world. There is no place for chronic anger in the life of a healthy Christian. If you find yourself easily angered, seek help. Talk to a close friend, confide in your pastor or seek professional Christian counseling; do something. Chronic anger is unattractive, explosive and deadly. People who easily fly off the handle usually have a bad landing.

About the Writer:Reverend Ken Simpson pastors in Missouri.