The Case Against Anger – Part 3

(To read the previous parts, please see this link.) After realizing my seventh-grade son was not making good progress through his independent study of Spanish, I began taking some of our daily one-on-one school time to review Spanish with him. One day, as I was repeating a phrase we had already gone over many times in that session, Joseph exclaimed, “Mom, you are just getting upset and angry with me!”

“Why, Joseph,” I replied, thinking I was speaking truth, “I am not angry with you at all.”

“Well, then it must be the spirit of anger,” were his next words. He had listened to Dr. Davis’ audio, Freedom from the Spirit of Anger.

Oh, how I would have liked to react and defend myself. I wanted to convince him I had not been angry. However, as I sat silently replaying the situation in my mind, I realized that he was right. I wasn’t yelling at him, but I was irritated, and he could tell it. Irritation is a nicer word than anger, but it is still anger.

So how do we work toward overcoming our anger? Are there practical ways we can be proactive in seeking victory over any anger we experience, or are we stuck with a lifetime of angry responses?

What should I do when those situations arise that I would respond to angrily? PRAY! Does that sound simplistic? It probably does, but do you know what? It doesn’t come naturally for me to pray when I am starting to feel angry. What does come innately is either to allow the anger to fester or to try to stuff it down as if it wasn’t there. I must discipline myself to cry out to the Lord Jesus the moment those feelings are starting!

How much do I hate my anger? Do I have worldly sorrow or godly sorrow over it? 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” This was such a hard lesson for me to learn, and I am still growing in it. I would hate my anger, but only because it represented another of my failures, not because it was sin.

When my sorrow over my anger is godly sorrow, then I will spend daily, earnest prayer time for victory. My ability to have the fruit of the spirit evident in my life is totally dependent on the work of the Lord Jesus. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” I am foolish or prideful or both to think that I could follow a list of steps to overcoming anger and have victory on my own.

It is easy for me to decidedly state that anger is wrong. Almost in the same breath, I will say I want to have victory over it. However, my prayer effort in that direction won’t match my words! I must truly mean that anger is wrong, from my heart, and then invest time in crying out to the Lord for His help. This has to be in both my daily personal prayer time and throughout the day.

Since I began writing these articles, I have been so excited about the new progress the Lord has been giving me in overcoming anger. However, it has not come without cost. The cost to me has been a constant focus on the problem. Dr. Davis, in his audio, Freedom from the Spirit of Anger, helped me greatly with this. He reminds his listeners that there are some sins that are just too hideous to allow ourselves to consider, let alone actually do. Would I walk in my favorite department store and steal a beautiful outfit I couldn’t afford? Never! What about ramming my car into the vehicle of a person who has treated me wrongly on the highway? Of course not! We simply don’t do those things. We know they are wrong. Somehow, though, we have come to view anger as acceptable to certain degrees rather than hating it as we might hate stealing or violence.

Colossians 3:8, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” Seeing anger as a sin, which I do not have the luxury of indulging in, began to make it worth my efforts to truly conquer it. Gentle anger—remember the Lord had given me victory over yelling and door slamming about ten years ago—ruled my life. When I started observing my anger, I became aware that many of the interactions with my children had just a slight undertone of anger in them. I don’t even think the children recognize it in me most of the time, but that doesn’t make it okay.

I began not only crying out to the Lord during my morning prayer time for help with this problem, but I also started praying constantly throughout the day. At first, it was terribly painful, because the Lord showed me I had a much greater problem with anger than I was aware of. I wrote this series because I thought I had something to share with you as far as overcoming anger was concerned. Instead, the Lord showed me that subtle anger was as much a problem as overt anger.

This continual awareness of my thoughts, attitudes, and reactions with an ongoing prayer of having normal, loving responses to what is going on around me has been wonderful. I am greatly enjoying the realization that even though I have truly had a problem, the Lord may give me lasting, sustained, life-changing victory!

In the situation I started this article with, my immediate step after prayer was to ask Joseph’s forgiveness for not being patient and gentle. Sometimes I, as a mommy, don’t want to ask my children’s forgiveness. I think it will make me look bad in their eyes, that it will undermine my authority, or that it will paint an unnecessarily negative picture of me. I believe asking my child’s forgiveness when I have wronged him by using positive words to describe what I failed to do relieves all of those concerns. At the same time, I am doing what is Scripturally commanded of me.

By asking my child’s forgiveness for my lack of patience, love, or kindness, I may be healing hurts that might never be spoken of by my child. By this I mean that each time I respond to a child in anger, my lack of love for him is showing, allowing hurts to be established and then to grow. These hurts can be concealed within the child’s heart and not be expressed. However, when I choose to humble myself by acknowledging that what I did was wrong, then I have the opportunity to reinforce my love for him.

This Mom’s Corner became too long so I needed to break it into two parts. Perhaps that will, in the end, be a good thing. You will have a month to meditate on your own view of anger in your life. You can begin observing your daily interactions and evaluate which ones involve anger. You should have time to start a diligent, vigilant prayer effort with a heart’s desire of overcoming anger. Lastly, you could try becoming accountable to the Lord and others in your family for your anger by asking forgiveness when you have been angry.

Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 7

(Prior parts to this series can be found here.) I was looking for my glasses in the kitchen when I realized and then said that they were still in the van. John immediately headed for the door to the garage, announcing that he would get them for me. I was grateful for his desire to serve, but told him that I had better retrieve them because I didn’t want them dropped. He assured me that he would be careful, and off he went.

Seconds later John came flying back into the kitchen with the glasses in hand. As he closed the door with the hand holding the glasses, the handle caused him to loosen his tender grip on the glasses, and they headed for the floor. The speed at which he was coming in the door gave the glasses momentum. I watched with no little distress as they went sliding across the tile floor—lens down.

I have been working at laying down anger in my life. Therefore, when I felt anger welling up inside of me, I turned to the wall behind me. I raised my hand and placed my palm against the wall. I didn’t smack the wall, but it was obvious that I would have liked to. With my anger now under control, I turned to face a sweet eleven-year-old who had tears brimming in his eyes. He apologized and said he didn’t mean to do it. He was very sorry.

I told him that was why I didn’t want him to get the glasses as he is always in a hurry and prone to accidents like that. I said it was okay and thanked him for his desire to help. He had something to do after that and went off.

Most would say I did a great job of controlling my anger. I was not harsh, and I didn’t discipline him. Yet, I was angry. Teri observed the situation and could tell I was angry. Several days later I spoke to John about it. I asked him if he thought I was angry. He said, “Yes,” and that was why he started to cry, because he was afraid. Ughhh! How that broke my heart.

Dads, that is why if we want to be good leaders of our homes, we must, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away . . .” (Ephesians 4:31). Our children know when we are angry, and it drives a wedge between them and us. They are afraid of us when we are angry, which is not conducive for having them turn their hearts to us.

The fact is, at that moment, I thought more of my glasses than I did of my son. That is something to repent of before God. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous to you? Yet I wonder how often that happens with other dads as well.

What causes you to respond angrily? Maybe it is a glass of spilled milk, the refrigerator door left open, tools lying in the yard, bikes in the middle of the driveway, lots of screaming and yelling, toys left out and tripped on, doors slammed, a child hurting another child, a child being disrespectful to you or your wife, a child not obeying you, a child mocking you, or any of a limitless list of ways a child could make us angry. We need to step back and ask ourselves, “Does anger achieve God’s results and make us good leaders?” “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

There was a time when I allowed myself to be visibly angry because the children responded so much better when I told them to do something. But it soon became apparent that I was driving a wedge between their hearts and mine. If we desire to raise up godly seed (Malachi 2:15), then anger—visible or invisible—must have no part in our lives.

I expect if we were to put our heads together we could write down a fairly lengthy list of ways our spouses can make us angry. I have noticed that when I’m angry with Teri, it does nothing to improve our relationship. Have you experienced that in your marriage as well? There is something about anger that causes the other person to pull back. They don’t want to open up and become close, because they don’t know that they can relax and not be on the defensive. Anger, even a spirit of anger, will cause the one receiving the anger to put up a shield of emotional protection.

My controlled anger with John that night was as harmful to our relationship as if I had yelled at him. He sensed the internal anger and admitted to me that he was afraid. He had no reason to be afraid as I was calm on the outside, but he sensed my spirit. It was angry. We have everything to win and nothing to lose if we will purpose, by God’s grace, to put away all anger.

Scripture is very clear about putting away anger. Read the following verses.

“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil” (Psalms 37:8).

“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment . . .” (Matthew 5:22). Even if there was to be a cause, we need to consider Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Notice all anger is to be put away.

“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). Again, all anger is to be put away.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). Look at the other qualities that wrath (anger) is listed among. Would we excuse any of the others in our home?

“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8). Do we want to pray effectively?

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Our anger will not lead to righteousness in our life or those to whom our anger is directed at.

Out of all the verses in the Bible telling us to put away anger, some will still cling to Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” as giving them freedom to be angry. Yet, they ignore that five verses later we are told to put away ALL anger. When we look at the above verses, it makes it extremely difficult to justify any anger.

As I said earlier, I have purposed to put away all anger by God’s grace. If there is such a thing as anger, with a cause that the Lord would approve of, I can’t imagine experiencing it. I can see what Scripture says about anger and how anger destroys intimacy in the home. It is difficult enough to win the hearts of my family members; I do not want to allow something in my life that will destroy what I’ve worked so hard for.

How about you? What place does anger have in your life? Have you seen anger’s harmful effects on relationships in your family? One resource that was very helpful in my life was Dr. S. M. Davis’ audio, titled Freedom from the Spirit of Anger. Dads, this really is a serious issue. Will you ask the Lord to search your heart and discover how He might remove anger from it? Will you trust Him to give you the grace needed?