by Pastor Tim Burt
When I was a young man and newly married, I was at a different emotional level. I was young. I was immature. I was a new Christian just beginning to learn the Bible and how God wanted us to conduct our life. And I was making plenty of mistakes in learning how to be a good husband. I wore my emotions on my sleeve and would occasionally feel provoked by my new wife who was also young and immature. I would periodically erupt like a volcanic eruption. I am ashamed of those days. I thank God for His transforming word and the ever-present help of the Holy Spirit who helped me completely change and mature. And I am so glad that those years are now so far in the past.
Anger is a valid emotion, but one that has a boundary whose line can too easily be crossed. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV) “In your anger do not sin…” This verse is instructional and insightful. God clearly teaches us that anger in itself is not sin, but that it can be carried to the point of sin. If we continue to read we also find out that when anger does cross its boundary, it can give the devil a foothold. That literally means “giving the devil occupancy—a place to dwell.”
For some people, their anger not only crosses the line of inappropriateness into sinning, but they are practically inviting the devil to sit down at their table and sign a long-term lease to live with them. How does that happen?
Anger unrestrained will lead to all kinds of outbursts that cause regret. People that sin in their anger seldom stay on the issue they are angry over. They often draw past offenses and hurts from life's archives, to the scene. This causes anger to swell like the beginning of a volcano. As anger gets worse, clear thinking has left the room and irrational thinking which provokes more anger, leads to rage! Unbridled anger or rage leads to irrational behavior that can then lead into every kind of evil. James 3:16 says it like this, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
As words begin to erupt from this anger, they begin to flow like lava and the devil now has a foothold. The words will be destructive and do damage to anyone in its path. In many cases, those words do long term damage that people may or may not recover from. If they do recover, they leave scars in the memory banks that only Jesus can remove through supernatural forgiveness.
Gods wisdom tells us the danger in letting our anger cross the boundaries of inappropriateness.
Proverbs 27:4 (NIV) says, “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming…” Prov 14:17 (NIV) says, “A quick-tempered man does foolish things….
To keep anger from turning to rage, limit yourself to how much you think about or mull it over. Speak few words about it as words cause anger to grow. Pray to ask God help you forgive. Seek forgiveness for your own personal faults at the time of your anger toward someone else. Finally, pray for that person from a spirit of love and faith with the sincere desire to help them. If you don't feel like it, do it anyway by faith because God instructs you to. When you do this, you'll find that your emotions will follow your faith. The other person may or may not respond right to your efforts but regardless, do what's right and the situation will keep from getting worse and most likely get better. Practice this continually and God will do a work in you and change your character and help you mature. And in the big picture, like me, you'll be so glad—and be so blessed!
Proverbs 16:32 (NIV) "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt