Jonah 4:9 MSG
When we think about anger, we often think about anger towards another person. A conflict. A hurt. But there’s another kind of anger: righteous anger. This is the kind of anger where we’re angry at what makes God angry. It’s anger against injustice, suffering, cruelty and oppression. We can often get angry in a selfish way. We get angry at things that affect us, when we feel we’ve been treated badly or when things don’t seem to be working out how we’d thought they would. Jonah became angry when the tree he was using as shelter died. In fact, he became so angry that he didn’t see the point of carrying on. ‘God said to Jonah, “What right do you have to get angry about this shade tree?”… How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night’ (Jonah 4:9-11 MSG). When we move away from becoming angry about things that affect us and start being angry about things that affect others, we move into righteous anger. This kind of anger stirs us into action. We begin to pray for others and ask God to create change. We get involved with social action and campaigning for people’s rights. We start to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. This kind of anger is anger we should be feeling and responding to. Are we prepared to be people who move away from being focused on our own needs and focus on the needs of others?
Ezek 10-13; Mat 14:13-21; Ps 129; Prov 14:25-28
Proverbs 11:13 NLT
If you’re serious about managing your anger, here are two things to keep in mind: (1) Don’t hang out your dirty laundry in public. Keep it in the laundry room. When you’re hurt and angry, spreading gossip about your offender comes naturally. Don’t do it. The Bible says, “A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” Dirty laundry generally gets aired in two ways: (a) Embarrassment: You say things when you know others will hear them. (b) Subtlety: You make jokes about their appearance, their friends and family, their personal hang-ups and habits in order to belittle them. This results in embarrassment for the other person, widens the gap between you, and makes reconciliation virtually impossible. The Bible says, “Love covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12 NKJV). (2) Don’t act in an un-Christlike way. For example, don’t say, “He brought it on himself, so let him get over it.” That may be true, but as a follower of Christ, don’t walk away and leave wounds to fester and become infected. “Forgive, even as Christ…has forgiven you” (See Ephesians 4:32). How did Christ forgive you? Was it after you’d acknowledged, confessed, repented, and earned grace? No. Paul says, “When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10 NKJV). Just as God took the initiative, you are called to extend grace to other people before they ask for forgiveness. And even if they choose to remain your enemy, you must forgive them anyhow. Only then will you have peace, your wounds will be healed, and you will be able to put it behind you.
Soul food: Ezek 10-13; Mat 14:13-21; Ps 129; Prov 14:25-28
Ephesians 4:32 NIV
When we’re angry we know how we shouldn’t respond. So how should we respond? The answer is in a Christlike way. Firstly, we need to not walk away and leave conflicts unresolved and simmering. Instead we should aim to sort things out. The Bible tells us to not offer our gifts to God if we have unresolved conflicts. ‘First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift’ (Matthew 5:24 NIV). Whether we’re angry with someone, or they’re angry with us, it needs to be sorted out and brought into the light. Secondly, we need to forgive. God calls us to be people who are ‘kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other’ just as He forgives us. God’s forgiveness is a gift, it’s a part of His amazing grace towards us. And we need to try and show that same level of grace and forgiveness to those who we become angry with. Forgiving those who’ve hurt us is hard, but if we don’t then it’s us who hurt even more. Forgiving sets us free. Finally, we need to try and be understanding. We need to look at the bigger picture and consider what’s caused another person to act a certain way or say something hurtful to us. Maybe they’re hurting too, maybe they’re going through a tough time or experiencing anger over something themselves. This doesn’t excuse what they’ve done to us. Instead it takes the edge off of our anger and softens our heart towards the person, making us more willing to forgive and resolve the situation.
Lev 23:15-22; Acts 2:1-18
Luke 6:45 NIV
If we keep pouring liquid into a bottle, eventually it’s going to start overflowing. The same is true in our lives. If we keep adding things that’ve hurt us, anger that we feel, words that have been spoken and disappointments then eventually it’s going to spill out. And as it’s a whole load of negative things that have been poured in then it’s going to be negative things that flow out. Jesus said: ‘The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart… the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.’ When our heart is being filled with these negative emotions, because we never let them go or healthily express them, then bitterness and resentment start to build and take root. Doctors say that resentment can affect our physical health. It can also preoccupy our mind, drain our energy, prevent us from being creative, ruin our relationships and stop us being effective in God’s kingdom. It even damages our relationship with God. Holding onto anger, resentment and bitterness basically affects every part of our lives. But Jesus said, ‘If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him – work it out between the two of you’ (Matthew 18:15 MSG). Jesus knew that we need to sort out conflicts, let go of our anger and avoid a negative overflow. Things need to be faced and resolved so that our heart isn’t full of negativity. Instead we need to be pouring in the positives, especially God’s joy and peace, so that we ‘may overflow with hope’ (Romans 15:13 NIV).
Ezek 5-9; Mat 14:1-12; Ps 124; Prov 14:21-24
Luke 6:45 NIV
What you store on your computer’s hard drive can be recalled by touching a key. Jesus said: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart…the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” And when you download old resentments you grow bitter. When you’re angry, deal with it quickly. Don’t walk around on a “slow boil.” And don’t sit around hoping the other person will see the light and apologize to you. What if they never do? Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go to him and try to make things right” (See Matthew 18:15). What do you value most – your point of view, or the relationship? When you “stuff” your anger and refuse to deal with the issue in a healthy way, you add another skeleton to your emotional closet. Imagine what that does to you. Doctors say resentment eats at your stomach lining, attacks your immune system, and predisposes you to heart problems, cancers, and other physical, social, and emotional disorders. And that’s not all! It preoccupies your mind, drains your energy, and cripples your creativity. It strains your fellowship with God, your family, and friends, as well as denying your offender an opportunity to clear their conscience and make things right with God and with you. Until you deal with the issue, you’ll drag it around like a ball and chain. Refuse to live that way! Ask God for the humility and courage to deal with the issue – today.
Soul food: Ezek 5-9; Mat 14:1-12; Ps 124; Prov 14:21-24