A challenge we all face is learning how to relate to people and events that don’t meet our expectations. When our expectations are not met, many of us respond in anger. Unchecked anger can cause a person to react in unhealthy ways. Decisions made or actions taken while angry usually lead to greater problems and more frustration in the future.
Proverbs 14:29 (NLT) People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.
Everyone has to learn to put these matters in God’s hands and allow Him to bring about a good result in His own time. Releasing the disappointment to God allows you to maintain a clear head and protects you and others from making foolish decisions.
The Bible has much to say about anger—not only about anger itself, but also about how we are not to respond in anger. Some anger is righteous, but other anger is unhealthy and unholy. God wants us to see things from His perspective and respond as He would.
Ephesians 4:25-27 (NLT)25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
But Don’t Be Phony
I’ve been teaching on prayer this year and one of the things I’ve learned is that we shouldn’t try to hide our emotions from God. I preached a sermon, Stop Faking It where I said we should stop faking it with God.
God doesn’t hide His emotions from us.
Psalm 7:11 (NLT)11 God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day.
Romans 1:18 (NLT) But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
Jesus didn’t either
John 2:12-17 (NLT)12 After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”
However we should control our emotions and not let them control us.
We should be controlled by the Holy Spirit not our emotions.
Ephesians 5:17-19 (NLT) Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
Often in denying our emotions we internalize anger which can morph into self-condemnation, depression, and shame. When we internalize anger we are in danger of being abused or taken advantage of.
Look To Jesus For Ways To Handle Your Anger
When we get angry, we should check ourselves to see if we are angry at the things God hates. Otherwise we may be angry without just cause and give opportunity to the Devil. Anger, even if it is godly at first, it can become malice. When this happens, we are in danger of becoming bitter.
Hebrews 12:14-15 (NLT)14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
Jesus has shown us that being angry, in itself isn’t evil. It’s what we get angry about and how we respond that is often the problem. The Bible does not tell us to suppress, ignore, or avoid anger but to handle it properly and quickly.
Ephesians 4:26 (NLT) And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,
The Scripture says, "Be angry and do not sin," it also says don’t get angry too quick.
James 1:19-21 (NLT)19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
Instead of anger, let’s ask God to give us patience and kindness. When life doesn’t go as planned, instead of getting angry, see these as opportunities for God to break through in your situation and to transform you and strengthen you, causing you to grow in faith, exhibit the character of Christ more fully, and see God break through on your behalf.
Romans 12:21 (NLT) Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Proverbs 19:11 (NLT) Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.
Romans 12:19 (NLT)19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.
While writing this post I read Jesus, I Need Your Grace from Jesus, I Need You , a devotional published by Zondervan. The prayers and devotions are written to inspire you to have unwavering faith in all circumstances including anger. (To get a copy click any link or the image at the end of the post)
That Difficult Person
Dear Jesus, I need Your help. Someone is making my life difficult. I have tried to be kind and patient — You know I have, Lord. But there have been times when I’ve lost my temper — You know that too. I’ve said unkind things and thought even worse things.
Our relationship needs healing; it needs You.
Jesus, show me what to do. I pray for You to step in and make this right. Teach me, Lord. How would You handle this person? Please take away these feelings of anger and hurt and replace them with grace and love.
“Seventy times seven”: That’s what You said to Peter when he asked how many times he should forgive the one who sinned against him. Am I capable of forgiving that many times? Oh, but how many times have You forgiven me?
Soften my heart, Lord, and help me forgive as You have forgiven me.
If anyone can mend this relationship, Jesus, it is You. Guide my every word and every action with Your perfect love. I need You, Jesus. We need You.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. — Romans 12:18
At some point in your life, you’ll encounter a difficult person — someone who, no matter what you do, makes your life miserable. When you run into such a person, call on Jesus. He understands and will know just how to help. As you think about that difficult person, ask yourself if you’ve contributed to the strain. Are there things for which you need to seek forgiveness? Come up with at least one thing you can do to bless that person’s life — and then do it.
Dear Jesus, Sometimes it’s really hard to love people, especially when You ask me to love those who hate You and do evil things. I know You love them, but I struggle to follow Your example. Please show me how can I hate the evil while still loving those who hate You.
Jesus, when You were beaten, mocked, and crucified, You could have rained down wrath from Heaven, but You didn’t. Instead, You asked God to forgive Your enemies because they didn’t know what they were doing. That is pure love. Fill me with that kind of love.
Jesus, You are always in my heart, guiding me and leading me to be more like You. And for that reason, I must pray for those who hate You and do evil things. I don’t love what they do, Lord — but I want them to know You. Please, Lord Jesus, open their eyes to see You and their hearts to accept You. They need You so much... and so, Lord, do I.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” — Matthew 5:43-44
Love doesn’t mean that you accept acts of hatred and evil, but love does require that you pray for those most in need of salvation. Consider Paul. He didn’t begin life as a disciple of Christ; in fact, there was a time when Paul — then known as Saul — hated Christ. Read Acts 9:1-19 to discover how he changed. How might you be an Ananias to a Saul in your life?
Excerpted with permission fromJesus, I Need You, copyright Zondervan
Editor's Note: Have you written a love letter to Jesus? Or cried out a prayer for help? Do you have conversations with Him regularly? This brand-new devotional, Jesus, I Need You, is a collection of prayers to Jesus, written as letters, that will inspire you to have unwavering faith in any circumstance, in every season. Each letter is followed by a short devotional and encouraging message. We pray that this inspires you to write your own letter to Jesus this week - He longs to hear from you!
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.