THE ANTIDOTE TO ANGER...
Anger is common to us all. It arises when we are sharply disappointed. There are some things we should be angry about such as injustice, wickedness, corruption, abuse, oppression, and dishonesty. But for some people, anger has become a character trait. That is, they have become very "short-fused". And it's ugly. They get angry too often and for too little. As bad as this is, it is even worse when a Christian is afflicted with anger...
Unhealthy anger robs the Christian of spiritual beauty. It greatly diminishes the Christian's spiritual sensitivity to God.
Matt. 5:22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.
Anger is not always bad. It can motivate a person to action. It can fuel a timid person with extraordinary confidence. But it can also be unhealthy when it is no longer for a noble purpose, or expressed in a considered manner.
Counselors and Psychologists offer several basic techniques for helping people to deal with anger. These include, behavioural therapy (counting under your breath, going for a walk, spending time alone to cool off). These indeed can be helpful, but there is else for the Christian to consider when anger is out of control.
Unhealthy anger can express itself as rage, depression, frustration or aggression. It might lead to yelling, over-eating, or alcohol-abuse. In every case, it is a focus issue. Unhealthy anger summons our attention. It steals our focus. I blinds our good senses. Consider the opposite of both anger and its effects-
- peace, joy, contentment, relaxation- patience, moderation, self-control.
How can the Christian diminish the grip of unhealthy anger? Consider the words above (which are the opposite of anger and its effects). To diminish unhealthy anger we might need to find how we can cultivate: peace, joy, contentment, relaxation, patience, moderation and self-control. The Christian has a grossly unfair advantage when it comes to cultivating these. The Psalms reveal it; The Gospels model it; The Epistles explain it:Worship God.
For the Christian, unhealthy anger is not merely a behavioural issue, it's a worship issue. The effects of unhealthy anger, rage, depression, over-eating, alcohol-abuse, are really symptoms of misplaced worship. When we worship God we are expressing our surrender to Him. We re-affirming our trust of Him. We are declaring that God is good, His plan is good, His love for us is great, and our need for Him is greater. When we worship God we come into His presence where the Psalmist says is fulness of joy, the apostle says is incomprehensible peace, and the Revelator says that God's presence is the place of all power.
This is one of the reasons why it is critical to worship God in church on Sundays. It's true that we can worship God individually and in private - and we should do this daily by prayer and devotional reading of Scripture - but worshiping in church with fellow worshipers reminds us that life is not just about "me and God" it's intrinsically about "God with us". It provides the right seed-bed of humility for worship by singing together, praying together, partaking of Communion together, giving attention to the Preached Word together. Because we regard all of these things as "worship" we don't think of worship as just being the singing component of our Worship Service.
Worship of God in humility is a powerful antidote to anger. The next time you begin to feel anger rising, take a moment to worship God - "Oh God, I worship You. I need you right now. Please be my peace. Take my hand right now and lead me through this. Please bless those who are upsetting me right now. Lord, I want to glorify You in how I respond to this disappointment. Amen."
Ps. AndrewEph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.