We’ve all done it. You’re headed to the bathroom in the middle of the night stumbling around in the dark and BOOM. Your pinky toe catches the end of a piece of furniture. You either fall to the floor in pain or hop around on one foot as you try to determine if you have only four toes left. Next to pain, the most common emotion felt in that moment is anger. I don’t know if we are mad at ourselves, the furniture, or our stupid pinky toe for not knowing how to bob and weave...
Either way the anger is rightfully so present.
As I take a trip down memory lane, I remember occasionally feeling angry towards my parents for scolding me as a child. I recall thinking I would pack up my Princess Jasmine shirt along with a few toys and skedaddle. I also recall my occasional anger working retail. I KNOW all retail workers know how frustrating working with the public can be. Especially when a customer request to speak to a manager... just for management to repeat the same thing we just said. I’ve also been angry at my husband for forgetting to take out the trash for the umpteenth time … even when it's clearly overflowing.
But was I right to be mad? Are we entitled to be angry when we're frustrated. Can you be angry as a Christian?
The short answer is yes.
Anger is an inevitable emotion that we all have experienced and will continue to experience throughout our lives. The disciple Peter cut off a soldier's ear in anger to defend Jesus. Jesus himself became angry and flipped over tables in the temple because it was used for commerce instead of prayer. So yes, anger is an acceptable emotion. HOWEVER, the frequency in which we become angry may not be acceptable.
James 1:19–20 King James Version (KJV) 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
As stated in this scripture, we should be slow to anger. If you are quickly angered at everything and everyone, then you my friend, have got some work to do. Keep in mind that the fruit we bare reflect the contents of our hearts. Anger is obviously not that great of a content to have within our hearts — but peace is. If you have more anger than you have peace within your heart, ask God to soothe you. We cannot harbor anger and expect to live a peaceful life. Peace and anger cannot co-exist. Discover what triggers your anger and make a conscience effort to control your emotions.
It's so ironic that everyone wants peace, good-vibes, and drama free lives. Yet, fits of rage are glorified in our society. We are incorrectly conditioned to think “telling someone off” is an accomplishment. We are wrong in our belief that cursing out the next man or woman somehow exalts our stance in a disagreement. James tells us in the scripture we need to be slow to anger and slow to speak.
Cursing someone out or telling someone off does not make you superior in arguments. On the contrary, it only emphasizes our poor ability to control our own emotions and properly articulate our stance. It’s similar to watching a toddler pass out on the floor because they are unaware of how to deal with their feelings. The only difference between us and a toddler is that we should know better.
Instead of thinking before we speak, we just blurt out and spew negativity because we haven’t actively trained ourselves on how to properly handle our emotions. A toddler may be excused for their ill behavior simply because they are ignorant of how to compose themselves. You and I on the other hand are adults. It is inexcusable for us to applaud or participate in maddening, distasteful behavior.
It’s puzzling to me that we expect children to not throw a temper tantrum in a store. We say they are bad children and should know better. Yet, those same toddler-scolders are the ones who will go to the register and curse out the cashier for a simple misunderstanding. These same adults like and share fight videos, applaud violent arguments, and rejoice in ignorance. Yet, we wonder why we live in tumult and can’t find peace.
We should not only monitor the frequency of our anger, we should monitor the reasoning behind our anger. We may lightheartedly reference Jesus turning over tables to justify our anger. Yet, Jesus’s anger was because the people abused the temple. They took what was meant to be holy and used it to trade goods. Jesus’s anger and our anger are usually incomparable.
Being angry at a slow driver on the interstate fails miserably in comparison to Jesus’s justifiable anger. Being angry at your boss for telling you to do your job doesn’t quite measure up to being mad that a sacred place was abused. Nevertheless, we are not Jesus. We could never be Jesus. We will be angry sometimes and not because a temple was made unholy. Sometimes the anger hits us before we even have a chance to think about the fact that we are getting mad. So what are we to do?
Ephesians 4:26–32 King James Version (KJV) 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.
We are instructed to be angry but sin not. I love how God has given us room to live in our emotions in this scripture. He doesn’t turn a blind eye to what is a natural emotion to us. He gives us permission to feel. Nevertheless, there is a boundary placed on the permission. You must control your actions. You may not be able to change your situation and you will never be able to control others. But you can always control yourself. There is a strength in control that is worthy of admiration. Proverbs 16 illustrates how one’s power over anger is commendable.
Proverbs 16:32 King James Version (KJV) 32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Anyone can be angry and act in emotions, even toddlers. You don’t get kudos for doing what a toddler can do. You shouldn’t pat yourself on the back for acting in anger. Because honestly, acting in anger is acting in weakness. Kudos are given when you find strength to not act in anger. Clap for yourself when you act in strength versus weakness. A strong-willed person may get angry but they will not allow their anger to consume them. Anger does not consume them simply because, although they may be angry, they do not act in anger. On the contrary, a weak-willed person allows anger to overcome them. They in turn act in anger, which emphasized their weakness - not their strength.
You see, the bottom-line is we have to watch how we act regardless of how we feel. The bottom-line is, has, and always will be found in the Word of God. We just have to apply it in our daily lives. So, the next time you get mad, it maybe okay. I can't say for sure because you may be mad for nothing... That would be for God to judge. But whether you are justified in your anger or not, just don't act on it, okay? Slow down on the road towards anger and keep the mad acting at bay. Remember, be angry but sin not!
That's all folks! I'll catch you later. In the meantime, be blessed and encouraged! Amen.