Have you ever noticed that by adding the letter D to the front of the word anger, it turns into the word danger? This struck me recently. I think there is something we can learn from that. It might be appropriate to be angry in some instances. However, there are a lot of people walking around with unhealthy anger in their hearts. And this is dangerous territory. Anger can lead to Danger.
You might be familiar with the story of Cain and Abel. We meet the two brothers in Genesis 4. Almost since the time of creation, man has had problems with the spirit of anger. Basically, the two brothers brought very different offerings to the Lord. Cain’s offerings did not please the Lord, while Abel’s did. This caused Cain to become angry.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’” – Genesis 4:6-7
Well, you likely know the rest of the story. Cain murdered his brother Abel. In the end, Cain “went out from the Lord’s presence” (v. 16).
Anger is still a big problem for many people today. Sometimes we feel anger over small annoyances. It might be more of an irritation. Something under our skin. It can be subtle at first. But it’s still there, nonetheless.
Sometimes we harbor anger inside of us for many years or even decades. After spending so much time with anger, we might be hesitant to let it go. It might feel like an old friend. But the truth is that it is not a friend at all.
Anger can sometimes cause us to burst out inappropriately. Someone might say something completely innocent to us, and we snap at them. It’s not really because of what the person said. It’s because we have been hiding anger in our hearts.
Anger can lead to strife in our relationships. Proverbs 29:22 says that “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.”
I believe that in many cases, the root of our anger comes from the enemy. When we feel unhealthy anger, this is the enemy trying to bring us down. When we are angry at another person, the enemy is working to cause division among us.
In Galatians 5, Paul lists “fits of rage” as one of the acts of the flesh. And he said that “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit.” So it is obvious that unhealthy anger is not of God.
The Bible contains quite a few verses instructing us not to play around with unhealthy anger:
- My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – James 1:19
- Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. – Ecclesiastes 7:9
- Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. – Psalm 37:8
- A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1
What should we do if we feel unhealthy anger in our hearts?
God told Cain that “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Cain did not listen to this advice, but we certainly can.
The first step we need to take is to pray about it. We should humbly confess our struggle to the Lord and ask Him to help us overcome it. In the case of Cain, he had a chance to do this, but he didn’t.
We also have to take action. Just as God had instructed Cain, we “must rule over it.” When we feel unhealthy anger boiling inside of us, we have a choice to make. We can remind ourselves that this is coming from the enemy and we must not allow him to have the upper hand.
Repeating one of the Bible verses listed above (James 1:19, Ecclesiastes 7:9, Psalm 37:8, Proverbs 15:1) can help you to feel calmer. There is power in God’s Word! If you can’t remember the Bible verse off the top of your head, then simply saying to yourself, “I will not get angry” can also be a big help in cooling your temper.
If your anger involves another person, you can choose to walk away and come back to discuss the matter at another time.
Anger issues can be overcome, if we take the right steps to work on it. We do not want to risk leaving the Lord’s presence, as Cain did. The good news is that God is always there to help us when we need Him. He wants what is best for us, and will gladly guide us towards healthier feelings.
© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas