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The Many Manifestations of Anger
Whenever a person chooses sinful anger, he is, in effect, giving the other person control over him. In the moment of his anger, he is like a marionette, a puppet on a string.
Anger toward someone is the total submission of your thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and behaviors to that person. It is not self-control, as governed by the Spirit of God, but the person is out of control (Galatians 5:22-23). The angry person is under the control of someone or something else.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. – James 4:1-2
The crux of the matter is that angry people “need” something. This truth is why there are an elevated expectation and a plummeting disappointment each time someone does not meet the angry person’s expectation. Angry individuals are weak people. The real question could go like this: Do you really “need” what it is that is causing your anger?
How many arguments have you gotten into with someone only to look back on it to realize how silly it was? If you’re like me, there have been times where you had elevated something that’s not that important until you became sinfully angry. After our desires morph to needs, sinful demands will ensue. The angry person has way too many needs. Let me give you an example of a real need:
Real Need: Thirst – A person dying of thirst will do almost anything to get a splattering of water to quench his thirst. The need for water controls him. He feels insecure (fearful) and rightly so because he will eventually die without water.
Not Real Need: Desire – When a child does not get his way, he may choose to pout as a tactic to get what he wants. He feels he “needs” something. This craving to get it turns to a pout (disguised anger). This reaction is his tactic to acquire what he has elevated to a need.
Adult desires are love, respect, approval, acceptance, significance, etc.
In a nutshell, that missing thing is Christ dying on the cross for my sins. When I forget this central truth of the Bible, I am apt to become sinfully angry at someone. (For a clear portrait of a mad man who ignored the gospel, read Matthew 18:23-35.)
It is in those moments before I yield to the temptation to the sin of anger, that I need to inform myself of what I am missing in the gospel. Below are some relevant statements that I have often used to tell my heart to neutralize sinful anger.
|Controlled By Anger||Controlled By the Gospel|
|Impatience||Patience Toward Others|
|Unforgiveness||Ready to Forgive|
|Gossip||Telling Good Things About People|
|Criticalness||Finding Good in Others|
|Uncharitable Judging||Comparing Myself to Christ|
|Slander||Praying For Others|
|Silent Treatment||Quick to Reconcile|
|Harsh Tones||Kind Tones|
|Rolling of Eyes||Self-Control|
|Sinful Comparisons||Recognizing the Log In My Eye|
|Putting Down Others||Encouraging Others|
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, – Proverbs 22:24
Do not try to help the angry person alone. The person habituated in sinful anger is not under the influence of the Spirit of God. He is without God, at least functionally because God opposes proud hearts (James 4:6). It would be a fool’s mission to try to get the angry man to stop being angry. He needs community and lots of it.
A synonym the Lord uses in Proverbs 14:29 to describe the angry man is folly. The word folly represents the actions of the angry person–he commits folly. The behavior of folly comes from the heart of a fool. By his fruit you know him: his behaviors reveal his heart, who he is. Jesus taught that words originate from the heart (Luke 6:43-45). If the words are foolish, the heart is folly, and the person is a fool.
The angry man is a fool, and you would be wise to not interact with him by yourself. He does not play by God’s rules. Remember: He is a god. You would be right to make your appeals, but if those requests fall on the hardened ground of his heart, you must talk to the spiritual authorities in your life, calling to them to help you (Matthew 18:15-17).
Because he is a god, he is breaking the first commandment (Exodus 20:3), which functionally disqualifies him from leading you. You are not called to follow fools blindly (1 Corinthians 11:1). There is a mutual and reciprocal requirement on the husband to lead and love and the wife to submit and respect. (See Ephesians 5:22-33)