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Anger

Daily Devotion and Scripture

There is a Loving Anger

There is a loving anger.

Psalms 145:8
8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love. (NIV)

 

The God of love is slow to anger. Love and anger can co-exist when the anger is loving.

The anger of God is a stumbling block to many people. The anger of God, especially in the Old Testament, has caused many to question the love of God. In anger, God struck down other nations. God’s anger burns and death often follows. How can we reconcile the love of God with the anger of God?

The Bible teaches us not to sin in our anger. Clearly then anger is not constitutionally sinful. There is a loving anger working for change that benefits the other.

Anger is the emotion instinctually in us bringing awareness of the need for change. In our inmost place, we know that if the situation before us remains as it is, it will hurt, damage, destroy, or kill. Something has to change. The difference between sinful anger and loving anger is found in our desire. If our desire is selfish, our anger will force change that is either self-gratifying or self-protecting. On the other hand, if our desires are loving, anger will force change that protects and benefits others first.

Outside of immediate extreme danger, our anger should be directed toward change that benefits the other.

Sinful anger is expressed in selfishness because we have been hurt. Loving anger expresses anger to help the other move away from destructive behavior that will kill their relationships. Sinful anger burns against sinners in judgment to absolve one from their own sin. Loving anger burns against that thing facilitating sinful behavior that will cause harm. Sinful anger burns when someone has hurt us deeply. Loving anger burns out of love for that person that they would abandon behavior destructive to their behavior.

We will know the difference by how we feel. If hurt, jealousy, selfishness, or pride has given birth to our anger, it is deformed. If love for the other is in our hearts, it will slow our anger and temper it to work for the benefit of those who have hurt us.

 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me take hold of the self-discipline You provide to refuse my selfish desires. Then let me grasp tightly the power to love You have given to use my anger to help others not destroy them. Amen.

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How To Love An Angry Person

How To Love an Angry Person

There is no respite when we are in a relationship with an angry person.  Whether they are a relative we live with or a spouse, it is exhausting trying to tiptoe around all the hidden emotional landmines never knowing what is going to set them off.  Yet, Scripture calls us to love even the angry ones.  But how do you love an angry person?

WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE SO ANGRY?

Before we have the necessary resources within us to be able to love someone who is angry, we first must understand what causes someone to be angry.  If we do not understand this, we will have no patience, no compassion, and no ministry to this person. We will simply be offended by their disproportionate anger.  To love an angry person, we must take time to understand why they are so angry.

BEFORE THEY WERE ANGRY, THEY WERE WOUNDED

We must understand that anger is a secondary emotion.  Before we are angry, we are wounded.  No one is born angry.  No one has a natural disposition that is angry.  Human beings by design do not want to be angry.  We want to be happy.  We spend all our lives searching for happiness.  But we are also selfish causing all of us at some point to hurt another.

People subconsciously use anger to protect past wounds.  They do not necessarily get angry with someone because that person has done something that has wounded them.  Anger is to protect anyone from touching an open, unhealed wound.  It does not matter who inflicted the initial wound.  Now that there is a place vulnerable to pain, anger is one way that our mind attempts to protect our heart from anyone touching that wound.  Think of someone who has hurt their hand, they will carry their hand differently and contort their body to keep anything from touching that hand and stirring up that pain.

With most people, we will see that their anger revolves around a specific subject or emotional space within them.  Someone might be especially sensitive to anything that makes them feel inferior.  Another may be sensitive to anything that makes them feel unloved or unaccepted.  For some, they have been wounded so often by so many people, their entire outlook on life has disintegrated into a hopeless disposition and this too can create anger that seems to be always present.  The wounds dictate the space where anger lies in waiting.  We do not have to know the source of the original wound to see the pattern of what causes someone to become angry.

PATIENCE REQUIRES UNDERSTANDING

To be able to love someone who gets angry seemingly at the drop of a hat is impossible unless we have compassion.  If anger is a protective instrument for someone’s pain, we must see through the anger into their pain.  They are hurting and do not want to be hurt again.  When they lose their temper with us, we take an egocentric perspective only thinking about how their anger is affecting us and not taking the time to remember they have been hurt.  Like anyone who has been hurt, we want to respond with compassion.  This is an act of the will because it is hard to not focus on their angry behavior.

Imagine if someone you love deeply were to be in a car wreck for no fault of their own. And suddenly they were paralyzed from the neck down.  Supposed you now had to care for them.  You would need to lift them from their bed to their chair, to the couch, to the kitchen, to the car.  You would have to feed them, dress them, bathe them.  But if you genuinely loved them, you would not be angry with them for needing your help.  You may get tired, frustrated, but you would not blame them.  And though it may fatigue you, you would consider it a labor of love.

Well, everyone has been through at least one major emotional wreck leaving some part of who we are immobilized.  Emotional paralysis can keep us from loving, from smiling, from hoping, from giving.  It makes us selfish, paranoid, stressed, insecure, and bitter.  But most of us did not choose to be in these wrecks.  At least, we are not responsible for the early wrecks.  The wounds from the initial wrecks may not have healed causing us to hurt others by guarding those unhealed wounds.  We guard them with anger, selfishness, pretending, and dishonesty.  Then we begin to create wrecks.  The initial wrecks usually occurred in the innocence of our childhood.  We never choose them, but they changed us and caused us to create more wrecks than anyone would ever have to face.

A person’s anger hides their wounds and we need to know this so that we can find compassion for them and not get offended at their offense.

UNDERSTANDING LEADS TO COMPASSION

The word ‘passion’ means suffering.  We speak of the passion of Christ as the crucifixion event where Christ suffered to the point of death.  But why did He allow Himself to suffer like this?  The Bible says ‘for the joy set before Him,’ Christ endured the cross.  He allowed suffering in His body because He knew without His suffering, we could not have been rescued from this body of sin.

As Christians, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.  God wants to use us to reconcile others back to Him.  There, they find healing for their wounds erasing their anger forever.  This ministry is a hard road.  Inevitably we will suffer at the hands of an angry person.  They will eventually yell, scream, grab, hit us.  We know this, but to honor the Lord, we need to allow ourselves to be His instrument to reach this person that we struggle to love.  But this we may have to suffer by not retaliating and responding in kind to their anger.  We can’t get offended and still minister to them.  We must be patient which requires discipline to suffer in patience to keep the relationship from breaking down.  This is compassion.  Passion is to suffer, compassion is to suffer along with someone.  They are suffering so we endure in suffering the effect of their suffering remaining patient to give God a chance to use us to reconcile them back to us.

LOVING AN ANGRY PERSON REQUIRES PREPARATION

If we wait until they lose it then expect ourselves to have what it takes to remain patient with understanding and compassion, we will not have enough in our own emotional bank to return their anger with love.  Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  It is not natural.  No one is patient except by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Even unbelievers who do not have the Spirit in the same way believers do have received prevenient grace.  This is the grace of God that gives to every human being a portion of His presence within them.  His purpose is so that they can one day understand His loving thoughts for them because only the Spirit can discern the thoughts of God.  But this preceding presence of God in unbelievers also gives each of them some ability to operate in the fruits of the Spirit.  But in difficult times, if we haven’t been flooded by His Spirit, we will not have enough to consistently love those who are angry.

We need time in the presence of God where His Spirit moves us as the water moves the Earth cutting deep and changing the terrain.

I live near the Frio River in Texas.  There is a campground where we have prayer retreats.  The main gathering place is right next to the river.  There is a cliff on one side of the river and a flatland on the other.  Standing on the flat side of the river, the power of the rushing wind can be seen at the bottom of the cliff where the river has run for thousands of years cutting deep into this mountain.

Jesus said to the woman at the well that He could quench her thirst with rivers of living water.  The Holy Spirit is this River of Living Water and the longer we remain in His presence, the movement against our stony soul will change the terrain of our heart.  Where we had no patience, we will have an abundance.  But this requires time in the Spirit on our own daily because the change is gradual.  This time alone with God will prepare us to have patience and love for an angry person.  The Spirit flows into us changing us over time and He flows out of us into others.

The more you have to be near an angry person, the more time you need in the Presence of God.  Get up early.  Pray to the Lord.  Remember His patience with you and your faults.  Remember how He has loved you even at your worst and you will be filled with patience and love for the angry person in your life.  Love is patient and love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

CAN AN ANGRY PERSON CHANGE?

All things are possible with God.  This question deserves a quick and emphatic ‘yes’ and ‘amen.’  The bigger question is how can you help.  A powerful Biblical principle is found in 1 John 4:19.

“We love because He first loved us.”

We did not fall in love with Christ because He got mad at us when we weren’t living out love to Him.  The Lord responded to our worst behavior with love.

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man,

Though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.

But God proves His love for us in this:

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:7-8

This is the power of love.  When we love someone in response to their anger, we are sending a strong message to their core.  That message is that we still love them even at their worst.  This is real love.  And love is the power to heal and restore.  The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins.  Loving others with patience when they don’t deserve it, as God did for us, has the power to melt their hearts.  That is the effect that God’s love had on us.  Lover covers over their sins against us, but also the sins against them in their past.  Love exists outside of time and has the power to go back in time to heal the wounds inflicted on them that created the anger.  When we receive from God what we need to love an angry person, the power of love can move a person to change.  God is love and when we love as He loves, power from Heaven is released into us and into them.  And once that river begins to flow in them…who knows what may happen.

 

LOVING AN ANGRY PERSON REQUIRES BOUNDARIES

Someone who is angry will hate boundaries, but loving someone means not enabling bad behavior.  To let someone rant and rave against you over and over again is not love.  Love is doing what is best for that person even if they don’t like it.  They want to be able to vent their emotions, but that behavior is not good for them.  The Bible says that harshness can stir up anger.  Though they may be blaming you for their anger, the reality is that only they can reign it in and if they don’t, they will stir up anger in all those around them.  Their anger toward you can hurt their relationship with their own children, other family members, and close friends.

You can set a boundary simply by politely and kindly ending a conversation when they start to behave in an unhealthy way.  You don’t have to stay on the phone.  You don’t have to continue the argument.  You don’t have to stay in the house.  If they won’t let you get away to your room when they are yelling at you, then grab your keys and get in your car and drive.  You can say to them, “I love you, but regardless of why you are angry, this behavior is destructive to you.  I don’t want people to see you like this.  I don’t want anyone to hear how you are acting.  It will hurt your reputation and relationship.  It is not good for you spiritually and your relationship with God.  And if I let it keep going, I am only enabling you.  So, because I love you and want what is best for you, I am not going to continue the conversation as long as you are acting like this.”

 

THERE IS A TIME TO END THE RELATIONSHIP

Unfortunately, even if you love perfectly, set up perfect boundaries, stay patient all the time, it is not guaranteed that anything will change.  The Bible says do not cast your pearls before swine.  In other words, don’t give the best part of yourself to someone who is going to stomp on your heart repeatedly without remorse.  Sometimes, the best way we can love someone is to deprive them of our company until they humble themselves and gain control of their temper.  This is not an easy decision and it should not be made quickly.  It is a last resort.

I was counseling a person recently who was being verbally attacked by their spouse repeatedly and they said, “But God forgives.”  This is true.  God does forgive, but God also holds us accountable.  He does not allow bad behavior to continue and when we disrespect and dishonor Him, He allows consequences.  These consequences to sinful behavior are God’s boundaries.  Boundaries are godly and loving when they are set in kindness and love.

what is anger

What is Anger and Where Does It Come From?

I would love to tell you that I have never lost my temper, but it’s just not true.  I do.  I have.  I have lost my temper with my wife and kids the most.  How is it that we can lose our temper most with the people we love the most?  What is anger and where does it come from?

We use the phrase ‘don’t lose your temper.’  This suggests that we have control over it, but the truth is that anger appears within us not be choice, but spontaneously in the moment.  We regret it later after saying things that only reflected our momentary frustration, but not how we actually feel about the persons we lost it with.  Our temper is not something that we turn off or on.  Yet, The Bible has a clear command to us.

What does God say about anger?

James 1:19-20

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (NIV)

 

God is teaching us that we are supposed to have some kind of control over our temper.  As much as I can choose to listen better, I can choose to be angry less…or at least that is what it seems God is saying about anger.  God doesn’t command us to do something that we are unable to do, right?  

 

We do have the power to end our temper tantrums.  The Holy Spirit is the spirit of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).  The same discipline that Christ had over his temper, we can have.  Sometimes, we see Christ only as supernatural and forget that He was a supernatural God choosing to live as a natural man.  This is why He would pray.  This is why He needed the Holy Spirit.  This is why He needed angels to attend to Him.  Yes, He is, was, and forever will be God Most High, but when He came to Earth, He was God choosing to live as a man.  As a natural man, He was tempted in every way (Hebrews 4:15).  He did not control His anger as God who cannot be tempted (James 1:13).  He controlled His temper by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit we have been given to give us the discipline we need to not lose it with people.  And the Holy Spirit is always present, already ready to give us the power to do what God has commanded us to do.  So, God says we are able to control our temper, but how?

 

What Emotion is Behind Anger?

This may be the biggest question for us to ask when we are attempting to control our temper.  The difficulty in anger from God’s perspective is that He is commanding us to control our temper, yet anger is not something we choose.  We don’t decide when we are going to angry.  In fact, we can’t even choose how angry we will become.  Haven’t you ever lost it with someone over something so small and insignificant that you were embarrassed later at your behavior?  We have all done this.  I remember yelling at my kids over the dumbest things.  When I look back I am totally befuddled as to why I got so angry, but I did.  Before we can ‘control’ something that we can’t actually control, we must first understand where it comes from.

 

James 4:1-2

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. (NIV)

 

James goes a long way to help us understand where anger is conceived within our hearts.  He says we have desires but we do not have.  In other words, there are things that we want, but we are not getting them.  So this is the beginning of anger.  Whatever it might be, holy desires or wicked desires, we are not getting what we want.  Maybe we want a friend to get off drugs and get their life straight, but the last time they called, high as a kite, we lost it because we were not getting what we want.  And even though we may want something good, if our reaction to not getting what we want causes us to be harsh with someone and say things we shouldn’t say, our desire for something good led to an angry rant.  The Bible says we should never use words except what builds others up, even if we are angry with them (Ephesians 4:29).

 

Anger begins with our desires.  We will come back to this but let’s go further in James.  He says that we covet but can’t get what we want.  Coveting is not simply wanting something, but it is wanting what someone else has.  Coveting involves jealousy.  It is not just that I want a new car, but in my desire for a new car, I get irritated that my friend got a new car instead of me.  I’m not just mad that I’m still driving the old clunker, but I’m mad they are not driving a clunker.  

 

What emotion is behind anger?  It’s desire.  We desire something that we don’t have, can’t get, and maybe someone else we know did.  This is why we fight and quarrel he teaches.  

 

The next time you get into a fight with someone you love, try to stop for a minute and figure out what you are wanting from them that they are not giving you.  Maybe you want them to give you more attention but they are focused elsewhere.  Maybe you want more respect from them.  After all, you are the ‘head of the house,’ after all, you are ‘the parent.’  But when they treat you with disrespect, you get angry.

 

An Example from the Bible

There are two characters in the Bible that help us to really understand what anger is and where it comes from.  The first is Namaan and the second is Jonah.

 

Namaan was a man who had leprosy.  Despite his leprosy, he was a successful commander in the army so when his king heard of the prophet of Israel healing those with leprosy, he sent Namaan there.  But when Namaan, arrived to see Elisha, Elisha didn’t come out to see him.  Can you imagine?  Namaan had come a long way to see Elisha and Elisha doesn’t even have the decency to come out to talk to Namaan.  Instead, Elisha sent a messenger.  This really angered Namaan.  He did not feel he was getting the respect he deserved as an important commander of the army.  He desired respect but wasn’t getting it so he was angry.  Elisha sent the messenger out to tell Namaan how to be healed, but Namaan was so angry at the disrespect of Elisha that he was not about to follow the directions given to him by Elisha’s messenger.  But that wasn’t all.

 

The messenger told him to go and wash himself in the Jordan river seven times.  Namaan didn’t like this either.  He wanted Elisha to come out with some big healing ceremony, pomp and circumstance, but he didn’t get it.  And he thought to himself that there were better rivers than the Jordan.  Here is what Namaam said:

 

2 Kings 5:11-12

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage. (NIV)

 

We have to pause and get the full effect of this.  Namaan did not have a cold.  He had leprosy.  His body was transformed into something like a monster in a horror movie.  This disease was something that causes people to not want to have anything to do with you.  It is not the common cold.  It affected how he was able to interact with people and if he was about to interact with people.  It affected how people looked at him.  This was not something insignificant.  His entire life was being messed up by this disease yet he was so full of rage that he didn’t even want to give the cure a try.  How many things have we rejected, how many opportunities, how many blessings simply because we weren’t getting the respect or the attention we craved.  But that’s what anger does.  By our own anger, we forfeit the good things God wants to give us.  

 

Well, just to give you the rest of the story, Namaan’s servant talks him down from the ledge.  Basically, he says to Namaan, is it really going to cost you that much to go down to the Jordan and wash.  Don’t miss this opportunity because you didn’t get what you wanted was his message.  So Namaan went and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times and after that seventh time, he skin was restored miraculously.  Can you imagine if he had missed that opportunity simply because he didn’t get what he wanted?  Isn’t it time for you to stop allowing your temper to keep you from the life God wants for you?

 

God’s Anger Management Plan

First, let me say that as a counselor, I can give you many different interventions to help you not do something you will regret when you are angry.  In marriage counseling, I often recommend ‘An Argument Notebook.”  This is a notebook where couples will write out their arguments one to another and back and forth.  This helps to not scream and yell, stay on subject, and hopefully, work through an issue without deep hurt.  There are many things that we hear from the mental health field that would be helpful if we could just ‘control’ our temper.  Even when I assign The Argument Notebook to a couple, their ability to use it is dependent upon their ability to ‘control’ their temper enough in the moment to take the time and start writing instead of yelling and insulting immediately.  But we all know how hard it would be to stop in the middle and start writing each other notes.   The real key to ‘controlling’ the temper that you can’t really ‘control’ is found again in James.  Let me share with you God’s Anger Management Plan.

 

At the end, I will give you some places to go with more anger-management techniques that will help you ‘control’ your anger, but God wants to relieve you of it.  He wants to give you the same attitude as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5-6), who prayed for God to forgive those who crucified Him even as He hung on the cross.  This is God’s will for us.  Secular psychology will try to teach you techniques to not allow your anger to come out and these techniques are good, but the ultimate goal is a pure heart.

 

I know…you are thinking to yourself, “Well, Jesus got mad at the Temple.”  Yes, He did, but He was angry on behalf of people who were being taken advantage of.  God’s law called for them to travel to Jerusalem in order to offer sacrifices and pay their Temple tax.  Once they got to Jerusalem, the people selling the animals and exchanging their money were fleecing them with jacked up prices and bad exchange rates.  They were making it hard for people to worship God as He had prescribed.  Jesus got angry and threw over the tables.  This is righteous anger.

 

What is Righteous Anger?

Righteous anger is anger we should have.  It is getting angry that babies are aborted and girls are snatched up in the sex trade.  It is being angry when people use their power to take advantage of the innocent, the defenseless.  We want this kind of anger.  It is godly and it moves us into action to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.  But unrighteous anger destroys everything it touches.

 

Let’s go back to James to look at God’s Anger Management Plan.  He says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.”  There it is.  Anger stems from not getting what you want from people, but the solution is going to God.  But it is not as plain as going to God and asking for what you want from people.  If you feel, husbands, that your wife is not giving you the respect you deserve as the man of the house, you can’t start praying that God force your wife to be more respectful.  Wives, you can’t start praying, “Lord, please make my husband be nice to me, take out the trash all the time, and be more romantic.”  Nope that ain’t gonna work 🙂

 

The key is asking God for those things you are craving.  The first thing the Lord will do is check your motive.  Remember the Scripture says that we don’t get from the Lord what we ask for because we have the wrong motives (James 4:2-3).  He is going to ask you why you need more respect from your wife in order to be content.  He is going to ask why you need your husband to be more considerate so that you can stop getting so made at him.  The Lord’s point is why do you need anything from anyone when He is your portion (Lamentation 3:24).  He is your everything.  He has already given you more than enough of whatever it is that you feel you aren’t getting from people.  

 

He is going to remind you that no matter how badly someone else may be treating you, He has never done this.  He has respected you and honored you with His kindness, blessings, and gifts when you didn’t deserve it.  He has loved you with an everlasting love even when you weren’t loving Him.  He is going to remind you that you may be craving from a person what only God can give.  He will change your prayer.  You won’t keep asking God to change others, but to change you.  You will ask the Lord to help you be content with all that He has done for you and not to be angry when someone else or even He, the Lord, doesn’t give to you what you want.

 

Don’t be like Jonah who was angry with God for taking away his shade in the hot desert.  When God asked Jonah if he had a right to be angry, Jonah said, “You betcha God! I sure do!”  God was trying to teach Jonah that sometimes, He doesn’t give us what we want to teach us how to be content with Him and not make Him into some kind of spiritual sugar daddy or genie in a bottle to be summoned only to get what we want.  That kind of relationship will not keep us connected to Him living by faith.  That kind of relationship is anything but godly.  God knows we must learn to be content with Him and what He allows in our life to keep us tied to Him and not to what He can do for us.  This is the kind of relationship that brings contentment, joy, inner-peace, salvation, and one day…Heaven.  God’s anger-management plan is much better than the world’s.  Follow it and find your peace.  

 

Isaiah 26:3-4

3 You will keep in perfect peace

those whose minds are steadfast,

because they trust in you.

4 Trust in the Lord forever,

for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. (NIV)

 

More Articles and Resources

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