As long as I can remember “anger” has been an unavoidable emotion that rears in me whenever something does not set right with my values or expectations. According to Psychology Today, anger is a normal healthy emotion.
Depending on how we respond to our “healthy anger” makes all the difference. Once one of my fifth grade students was so angry that his mother didn’t pick him up from school early, that he lashed out in anger punching computers, a globe, and overturning desks.
I hope you agree with me that his reaction was not an appropriate reaction to his “healthy anger.” As an elementary school teacher, I’ve been known to cram my “healthy anger” deep down whenever my students’ behavior did not align with my own expectations. But not dealing with my anger caused it to pile it up until I eventually exploded like Mt. Vesuvius all over unsuspecting family members or my own children.
Even Jesus Became Angry
Jesus was known to give an angry stare. For example when he had asked the Pharisees what was lawful to do on the Sabbath, to save live or destroy it?
“Jesus looked around at them with anger and sorrow at their hardness of heart .”(Mark 3:5)
But Jesus still healed the man’s withered hand. Although “anger” flared in his look, His actions benefited the man’s health.
Jesus even “overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts (Mark 11:15-16).”
But after stopping all the buying and selling that was taking place in the Lord’s house of prayer, He began to teach them that the temple was to be a house of prayer for all the nations.
Jesus anger to their behavior prompted Him to stop them. And then to teach them the proper actions for temple behavior.
This gives me pause to think about my own reaction when anger flares within my own heart. Am I angry because they are dishonoring God? Do I use it as a teachable moment?
The bible says that we shouldn’t lie. When we are angry about something, we should speak truthfully to our neighbors. The bible makes it clear that it is possible to be angry, but not to sin.
Thank goodness, There’s hope for me yet!
However the bible gives a stern warning not to let the anger simmer or pile up because that gives Satan a way to tempt us to sin.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one another. Be angry, yet do not sin. Do not let the sun set upon your anger, and do not give the devil a foothold .Ephesians 4:25-26
“The Bible does not forbid displeasure, but it sets up two controls. The first is to keep anger clear of bitterness, spite, or hatred. The second is to check daily on how we have handled malevolent feelings.”Billy Graham, Christian Worker’s Handbook
We need to be careful that Anger does not get the better of us!
We want to remain in control and not allow our anger to control us. In my elementary classroom while it was okay to be angry, the following behavior was not permitted:
- No shouting of bad language.
- No “getting even.”
- Not allowed to harm people including yourself.
As a teacher, I would have been fired if I shouted bad language and we laugh to even think of something like this occurring…but I sure was angry enough to do such a thing more than once during my career.
I can even remember being tempted to “get even” with my middle school students. Occasionally a student made my life difficult and I could easily have heaped unpleasantness far beyond “logical consequences.” But this would not have created a pleasant learning community or been an appropriate role model for my students.
No one is allowed to harm anyone in my presence. I’ve always had a strong desire to protect people, to protect life.
Every life matters, even the unborn.
How Did I learn to Control my Anger?
- I had to realize that “hurting people hurt people.” My students who were hurting others with their words had hidden wounds that needed to be healed.
- Realizing that angry words caused wounds much deeper than I intended. The effects of my Angry words lasted much longer than my actual anger.
- Noticing that not only the person who the words are directed towards is affected by the angry message. Everyone in the room is affected. I had a choice to make. Did I want to affect people negatively or positively?
- Admitting my anger was out of control was necessary. So then I would call upon the One true God who could overcome my sin problem of angry outbursts. Whenever anger flared up, I would pray for God to calm my mind and give me wisdom for the appropriate reaction. I can remember continually praying not only for myself but for my students who were causing me to become angry. Likewise we need to pray for the people and things that are “Bumping into our happy (Lysa Terkeurst from Unglued).”
- I had to learn how to confess my inappropriate reactions due to my anger to God. Ask Jesus for help dealing with anger as well as for forgiveness.
- I had to learn to figure out the real issue of what is causing me to be angry. Sometimes the issues were because I was tired, hungry, or didn’t feel well. I was inconvenienced. Other times the problems are out of my control like Covid 19, health issues, or the many injustices of our world. I can get angry and shout at God! But I can only control my own behavior and not other’s reactions.
- I have to hand over all world’s issues to God, because the burden is too great for my shoulders. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict the world and not mine.
- Each day I must allow the Word of God to enter my mind by reading the bible, studying scripture (thinking about it…chewing it over), and memorizing scripture. Scripture is a healing balm to a wound or like a mother’s soothing song to calm her child.
Scripture Related to Anger
Below are a few verses about anger that may be helpful to you to overcome your own anger.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. (Proverbs 29:11)
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former way of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and…be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and …put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22- 24)
Put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language. (Colossians 3:8)
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)
What Scripture helps you overcome anger?
One of the great privileges from living in America is being able to state our beliefs. When I was an elementary educator, I taught students to treat each other with dignity and respect regardless of their personal beliefs. So if you have a different way of dealing with anger other than the way I have shared above, please let us know what has worked for you. It may help a reader, so thank you for taking the time to share!
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