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When most people hear the word anger, they have a picture similar to Bobby Knight, the former men’s basketball coach for Indiana University, throwing a chair across the gym floor. Bobby’s bouts with anger are well-documented in the sport’s world. When I say that I get angry, I am not talking about that kind of fiery emotion.
But I have gotten angry in many other ways, which is why it’s missing the mark to criticize those who use sinful anger differently from how I do. Here are a few examples of how anger has manifested in my life.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? – James 4:1
James asked an insightful question regarding anger and the need to think more deeply about this problem.
Another way of asking his question is, “What am I missing when I get angry?” Or “What is it that I am not applying to my angry heart?”
My anger informs me that something is missing in my life that motivates me to emote in ways that do not spread the fame of God, or benefit my other relationships.
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.
(It is best to inform yourself of these things before you are angry. It is wiser and more beneficial to enrich your soul during the peaceful times preemptively, rather than waiting until the moment of need to preach the gospel to yourself.)
What Causes Anger?
Implications of the Gospel
The more I preached these “gospel implications” to myself throughout the day, the better chance I have of living under the control of the gospel’s power rather than submitting to the strength of sinful anger.
Because of the Father’s mercy to me through the cross, I now have the power of the gospel working in me, and for me so I can live in its ability. This new gospel-centered life is profoundly contrary to my 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|
The Anger Spectrum
Anger: Its Cause and Solution