This weekend, we looked at the topic of anger. And, in general, I think anger is more often something we live with, rather than deal with, in our lives. But, I believe it is something that needs to be resolved. The more we actually deal with our anger, and learn to live free from it, the more whole and healthy our relationships will be.
Because, anger can so quickly sever relationships and kill friendships.
Therefore, we began by learning that anger is primarily an emotion that happens “when our wills or desires are limited or stopped.” (Dallas Willard). And, I think this is true. Anger is triggered when we don’t get what we want. Think about a child in the grocery store not getting what they want and throwing a tantrum. (Why do they have candy so close to the cart in the checkout line?) The point is, anger alerts us to the fact that what we want isn’t happening. That’s the root of our anger.
And, Paul is clear in Ephesians 4:26a: “In your anger do not sin.” (Notice that the problem here isn’t the anger itself, rather it’s how we deal with the anger.) He continues by saying: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” (vv. 26b-27) And, what Paul is teaching is really clear: Unresolved anger gives Satan room to move in our lives. That while that immediate feeling of anger isn’t wrong or bad – it’s simply a natural response, and it’s not a sin – what matters is our response to that feeling of anger. Do we indulge it, entertain it, stoke it, or deal with it?
Anger that isn’t dealt with gives the enemy a foothold – it grows, festers, and gets ready to burst out.
That is why anger can be dangerous, because when left undone, it lurks below the surface ready to either explode, or continue to poison our souls with bitterness. And, while feeling anger isn’t a sin, we still need to deal with it. It needs to be rooted out. Because, anger so often and so easily does lead to sin and difficulty.
And so, we looked at how to deal with our anger…
1. Notice it
First, we need to notice our anger, but not act on it. In order to deal with our anger, we need to realize and acknowledge that we are angry.
2. Name it
Second, we need to name our anger. This involves really examining why we are angry and giving it some language, asking ourselves “what is it that I really want that isn’t happening?”
3. Deal with it
Last, we need deal with our anger daily. Because, we’re unlikely to deal with it at all if we don’t address it right away. And, the way we do this varies from person to person, but what it often means is working it through, understanding it, and processing it until we can release it.
Because, bottled up anger only grows, and hurts ourselves and others. So, if we actually deal with it, I think we’ll not only have fuller lives, but fuller relationships.