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Why Are You Angry?

by J. W. Jepson, D.Min.

Life In Christ Center, 3095 Cherry Heights Road, The Dalles, Oregon 97058

(541) 296-1136

copyright � 1991 and 2000 by J. W. Jepson

All rights reserved, including the right to grant the following permission and to prohibit the misuse thereof:

The Author hereby grants permission to reproduce the text of this article, without changes or alterations*, as a ministry, but not for commercial or non-ministry purposes.

*Permission is given for publication of excerpts and condensed versions.

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(First published in The Pentecostal Evangel, March 17, 1991)

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One of God’s early questions to man was directed to Cain. God would not accept Cain on his own terms, and Cain was mad about it. So God confronted him with the question, "Why are you angry?" (Genesis 4:6, NASB).

God’s question was valid, as it was to Jonah centuries later: "Do you have good reason to be angry?" (Jonah 4:4, NASB).

Anger is an impulse of the human spirit (Ecclesiastes 7:9). As an emotion, it is spontaneous and involuntary. Jesus himself experienced it (Mark 3:5).

Anger is often stimulated by frustration. Personal rights are violated. Goals seem to move out of reach. People cannot get their way.

Years ago a minister’s daughter ran away to San Francisco. Angry, she decided to throw herself at the first man she met. A Christian, he began witnessing to her. Angrier, she went to the wharf, determined to jump into the bay and end it all. There she met another Christian. Finally she surrendered to God and went home. Later she recalled, "I was mad because God and my dad wouldn’t let me have my way."

Anger can be generated by irritations, especially if one is exhausted, ill, or suffering from poor nutrition or a chemical imbalance. Among such people the threshold of anger varies. Some explode at the slightest provocation. For others it takes an accumulation to set them off.

Injustice triggers angry emotions. People see the wrongs in the world and get mad.

No matter how strong it might be, the feeling of anger is only a temptation. If we hold steady in the strength of the Lord and do not yield to the temptation, we are not sinning. Holiness is not a state of the emotions, but a commitment of the will.

Sin also is an act of the will. Yielding to anger is a sin that does great harm. It stirs up strife and results in transgression according to Proverbs 15:18 and 29:22.

Anger can lead to violence, including murder. It is a cruel and destructive sin. "A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both. Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous" (Proverbs 27:3,4).

Anger led to the first murder. It made killers out of Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49:7).

Anger is also self-destructive. "For wrath killeth the foolish man" (Job 5:2). Anger drives people into a pattern of behavior that draws repeated punishment. "A man of great anger shall bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again" (Proverbs 19:19, NASB).

Wrath is among the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). It keeps people out of the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:22). No wonder Paul wrote, "I fear … lest there be debates, envyings, wraths" (2 Corinthians 12:20).

How shall we handle anger? Scripture tells us how to respond to anger in others. Proverbs 29:8 says, "Wise men turn away wrath." Proverbs 30:33 instructs us not to force anger. Back off. Avoid adding fuel to the fire. Make it easy for the other person to cool down.

We must not bear down on others. "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged" (Colossians 3:21; also see Ephesians 6:4). Undeserved blame, perfectionist demands, constant criticism, unfair and inconsistent treatment, unwillingness to listen - these things discourage young people and stir in them a seething cauldron of anger.

Solomon wrote, "A soft answer turneth away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1).

A very important rule is laid down in Proverbs 22:24 - "Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man" (NASB). Your boyfriend or girlfriend’s temper might seem cute now; but if you marry that person, you are signing up for trouble.

Let us consider how to deal with anger in ourselves. First, if anger controls us, we must acknowledge it for what it is - sin. It is wrong. There must be no excuses. We cannot blame it on the devil, our ethnic background, or other people. "You make me mad" is garbage dumping, blaming others for how we feel and act. We must take responsibility for our own choices and behavior.

To be controlled by anger is not only wrong but also foolish. "He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly … He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding; but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly" (Proverbs 14:17, 29).

Control is not repression. Repression is like having one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator. That only internalizes the destructive energy. Neither is expression the answer. Giving vent to anger, even under conditions, only reinforces it.

The answer is repentance. Face it. Confess it. Renounce it. Get to the Cross and trust Jesus Christ for deliverance. Faith puts Him in control of us: spirit, soul, and body. When Christ is in charge, we are in victory.

Stay full of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). He knows how to produce His fruit in us, including a controlled temperament (Galatians 5:22-26).

Ephesians 4:26 instructs: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun do down upon your wrath." Suffer through the angry feelings, but do not sin by yielding to them. And whatever the irritation, resolve it before going to bed.

We are commanded to stop giving in to our temper. The emotions themselves might not stop immediately. But we are to stop yielding to them and yield to Christ instead.

As we walk in the Holy Spirit, our human spirit will stabilize. A person who follows Christ will not remain a sorehead.

So let us follow the directives of Scripture and be slow to anger (Proverbs 19:11; 16:32).

Our generation has conquered outer space, but not inner space. Only Jesus Christ can do that, and He will if we let Him take control.

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