Benjamin Franklin said, “Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.” Let’s face it, we sometimes get angry. When you do, how does it cause you to react? Do you hold it in until you burst? Do you instantly blow up? Or do you control the anger? God desires you to react correctly in situations that stir up anger. James 1:20 says, “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
So what causes anger? James 4:1, 2 tells us the root, he asks, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something and don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Sound familiar? Here’s the point: Anger is not their fault – it is yours. We must realize that things don’t always go our way. We also can’t control the actions of others. But we can and should control ourselves. How we react is a reflection of our heart.
Psalm 139:23-24 gives great advice when it comes to anger. The psalmist says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”. We must let God search our hearts daily. Anger is really an overflow of the heart. If you fix the heart you will fix the anger.
Well you might say, “My outburst of anger isn’t that bad. At least I’ve never killed anyone.” Oh really? Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22 that anger in our hearts is just as bad as murder. 1 John 3:15 also says, “Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them." Now everyone loses their temper occasionally but these verses are talking about habitually despising someone. It is a deep-rooted bitterness. You know, when you can’t stand to even hear their name because just the thought of it makes your blood boil.
Unsettled resentment, bitterness, and anger can lead to “the way of Cain” if we are not careful (Jude 1:11). Cain’s murder of his brother Abel started in his heart. There is a destructive pattern when we refuse to nip sin in the bud. We have to learn to let go of grudges and cling to forgiveness. Isn’t it time to trade anger for forgiveness, bitterness for compassion, and resentment for love?
I guarantee you will get angry in life. But how you respond when anger arises is key to being like Christ and having righteous fruit like joy and peace. I’ve read the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5 and righteous indignation is not one of them. Paul tells us to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice (Ephesians 4:31-32). We must be compassionate and forgiving instead. So when the pressure mounts or someone gets under your skin, don’t let anger win. Try being still instead of losing control and resorting to anger and wrath. This will allow God to move (Psalm 37:7-8).