I have a medical condition that can make some days nearly unbearable. The pain and fatigue can cause me to not be so pleasant to be around. I try hard to keep myself in the Word and to fix my eyes on Christ, because it is very easy for me to get frustrated and act out in anger when I am not feeling very well.
God’s Word says that God Himself is slow to anger. The Bible says that we can be angry but that we should not sin because of our anger. We are not to react in anger when things are not flowing smoothly. The other morning my knee hurt, my back hurt. I was tired because the pain kept me up half the night. I was trying to work. The printer was not working properly. I reacted. I reacted in anger. I smacked the printer. I yelled. Doing that got me even more angry and frustrated. I wanted to take that printer and toss it across the back yard. Others likely heard me yelling at my printer and that wasn’t a great example.
Thankfully I calmed down. I recognized that I was going down a bad path and I took a break. I fixed my eyes on Jesus and turned on some worship music. I started to sing along. The lyrics reminded me of God’s Word. The lyrics reminded me of His promises. The anger started to disappear. My pain no longer seemed as intense. I was worshiping Him. I was feeling the peace that only He can give. Each day we are given many opportunities. We control our reactions to the circumstances and situations in our lives. We can choose anger, worry, fear, hate—or we can choose love, joy, compassion, courage, peace. We can choose to do it alone or we can choose Jesus.
“BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” – Ephesians 4:26-27 [NASB]
In Genesis 30, “Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister” (v. 1 ESV). She went to Jacob and basically said if you don’t give me any children Jacob, I will die. Jacob got angry at Rachel. He said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” More or less he was saying, “Hey Rachel, I’m not to blame. It’s not my fault.” Notice how Rachel was jealous and she went and placed the blame on Jacob. Then Jacob, who was incorrectly on the receiving end of the blame, became angry as a result of the misplaced blame.
Sin spreads. When a seed of sin is planted in a relationship, it can easily grow and spread. It can start as a small sin and turn into something very destructive. Too often we play the blame game and see things fall apart right before our eyes. Blame can ignite into anger and lead to a large fire that spreads out of control.
Be careful when you are placing the blame on someone. Often blame is misplaced. Instead fix your eyes on Jesus. Take whatever is on your heart to Him. Seek His Word. Taking everything to God instead of playing the blame game will lead you to a better reaction. Instead of placing blame, you will be placing everything before the feet of the One Who holds the world in His hands. It’s okay to be honest and pour out your heart. May God open your eyes to the Truth and touch your heart, leading to transformation. Transformation is so much better than destruction. Amen!
“When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!’ Jacob became angry with her and said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?’” – Genesis 30:1-2 [NIV]
One day a fellow lost his keys. He retraced his steps and could not locate the lost keys. He looked everywhere. He asked everyone. No one had found the keys. He was worried and later the worry turned to anger. The keys had to be somewhere. Why can’t they be found?
The gentleman was so angry that he went outside and began to pound on the trash receptacle. He kicked it again and again. He started to tear into the trash can and caused a huge scene. Someone had to step forward and tell him to calm down and leave.
What an impression the fellow left!?! Now whenever I see him I can only think of the actions he took while in a fit of rage. I cannot help but remember the scene outside. It is so easy to let anger control you. It is so easy to be quick to get angry. But as James wrote, it “does not produce the righteousness God desires.” And it always leaves a bad impression that certainly does not give God the glory He rightfully deserves. Today, be slow to speak. Don’t allow anger to control you. Give it to God and be quick to listen.
“And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” – Ephesians 4:26 [NLT]
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” – James 1:19-20 [NLT]
When you get angry, it can often be difficult to keep your mouth shut and remove yourself from the situation for awhile. We want to speak out right away. We want to respond. We start to yell. We want to speak our mind. We feel the need to tell the person that we are in the right. We have to explain ourselves. We must get in the last word. We want to tell people when they are wrong and we are right. We can’t help but point fingers.
Nehemiah discovered that people were taking advantage of others. The Jews were charging interest to their brothers. As a result, the people were mortgaging fields and homes. Their children were going into slavery. They were being drained of everything. When Nehemiah found out he was very angry. But notice he did not respond right away.
Nehemiah thought it over; he considered his words and actions. He still went forward and told the people what they were doing was wrong. He told them to return to the people what was theirs. However, he waited till he contained himself and got his thoughts together. Oh how easy it could have been to immediately rush in and start pointing fingers and barking out orders. Instead he gathered his thoughts, went before the people and calmly stated the problem and provided the resolution. Now that is anger management.
“I got really angry when I heard their protest and complaints. After thinking it over, I called the nobles and officials on the carpet. I said, ‘Each one of you is gouging his brother.’”
-Nehemiah 5:6-7 [MSG]
We all can think back to a time when we expected that something would go differently. Even things we have prayed for did not turn out the way that we had imagined in our minds. When I was a teenager, one of the hardest periods of my life was when the healing I expected for my Grandfather did not come. Sometimes God has another plan—a better plan. We cannot always understand it. We cannot necessarily predict it. Honestly speaking, there are moments when we don’t always like it either because we cannot see the bigger picture.
Naaman had leprosy. He expected that Elisha would come out to him and wave his hands over the leprosy and call on the name of God to heal him. Naaman expected to stand there and watch Elisha summon the Lord for healing. Instead, Elisha gives him directions via a messenger. He was to wash in the Jordan seven times—the Jordan River, not even the most likely body of water for healing in Naaman’s eyes. Naaman became angry, so angry that he stalked away.
There are moments when we get angry. We expected something to turn out differently. We followed the path God directed us to take but it is not like we expected. There’s suffering. There’s hardship. There’s challenges. There’s mountains to climb. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It takes work. This is not what we expected. Today, don’t let your expectations cloud you from your focus on God who has something for you that is beyond your expectation. When something doesn’t go the way you expected, trust that He has a better plan.
“But Naaman became angry and stalked away. ‘I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!”’he said. ‘I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the LORD his God and heal me!’” – 2 Kings 5:11 [NLT]
I laugh so often when I read the Book of Jonah. There are so many eye opening moments in this book that have certainly convicted and humbled me. Some people will focus how Jonah finally followed God’s command and went to Ninevah. Some people will focus on the how the people of Ninevah repented and changed their ways. I like what happens just after the Ninevites hear the message and believe. They fast.
Right after that God relented. When he did it made Jonah angry. He was not happy that God was forgiving of these people. They were “bad” people. They did wrong. The Bible says that Jonah then went and plopped himself nearby and “waited to see what would happen to the city.” That part gets me every time. What was he waiting for? Was he waiting to see if they messed up again so he can say, “Hey God, look I told you they were bad people and you were wrong to forgive them”? Was he waiting to see if perhaps God would change his mind (which is not possible)?
There are moments in our lives when we do this too. We get angry at the injustice in the world—and there is much of it. We speak with unforgiving lips. We act as the judge. Imagine each person who committed those wrongs finding forgiveness. God relented. They accepted Jesus and have been redeemed—but what about what they did? What about the rape, murder, adultery, lies, theft??? What about……. You can sit just outside watching and hoping that others pay for what they have done, or you can receive God’s forgiveness and show that same forgiveness to others.
“Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city.” – Jonah 4:5 [NLT]
I have seen people get so angry. They are ready to explode. You can see the look in their face. They are mad. They are ready to fume from their ears. Then something changes. They are face to face with someone who doesn’t yell back. The person doesn’t respond harshly. Instead there is a gentle answer. The person who is angry starts to consider this gentle answer. Wow, I don’t have to be so mad. This person is calm. This person isn’t out to get me. This person is being reasonable. This person is caring. This person is listening to me.
When someone is angry, words can be said. When the listener starts to respond with more harsh words it becomes a war. The two people end up tossing words back and forth. Who can hit the hardest blow? Who can hurt the person worse? Who can one up the person with the worst? It becomes very childish. It becomes very loud. Voices get even louder, as if the loudest voice would win. As if the loudest voice is delivering the truth.
God’s Word says we should provide a “gentle answer.” It says a lot about us to provide a “gentle answer” when we are being pelted with hurtful, harsh words. I have tried both the gentle answer and the harsh words. The gentle answers always have worked out best. I’ve given up on the harsh words.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” – Proverbs 15:1 [NLT]