Aisle Two was not the place to be this morning.
At WalMart this morning, I heard a Dad completely lose his temper with his toddler. In the next aisle over, another shopper and I made eye contact with raised eyebrows as we both knew what the other was thinking.
After feeling sorry for the kid and some remorse for the father who was clearly at his end, I couldn’t help thinking, “But for the grace of God, there go I…”
Growing up, the last thing anyone would have described me as was angry. I was a gregarious, positive, generally happy person. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized how quickly I became angry when I didn’t get what I wanted (or in other words…I had an anger problem).
I have been working to tame the monster of anger in my own heart for the past decade and have a few suggestions to help you as you do the same.
- Anger happens most when you’re living for yourself. One of the main reasons I’ve found myself angry so often is because I perceive my rights have been violated. Maybe I feel like I have a right to relax at the end of a hard day or a right to be talked to in a certain way. When I’m focused entirely on these “rights” or my needs, that means I’m focused mainly on myself. That means the needs and desires of others are…well…OUT of focus…and I’m living mostly to please myself instead of God. This anger is characteristic of the “old self” (Gal. 5:19-20) and has no place in the life of a believer.
- Anger reveals a lack of trust in God. When I get angry quickly, I’m displaying dissatisfaction with God’s sovereignty in my life. I’m forgetting that God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him (Rom. 8:28). When I filter every circumstance in my life through this lens, I realize that God is in control and my anger is really just an adult temper-tantrum.
- Anger grieves the Holy Spirit, gives Satan an opportunity in your life, obscures your witness to others, and disrupts unity in the Body of Christ. This is a sobering reminder. In the Bible we’re commanded not to coddle anger, but to rather put it off. In its place, we are to put ON patience, kindness, humility, forgiveness, love, and self-control (Eph. 4:32).
- Anger isn’t worth it. James 1:19 states, “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” What do we hope to accomplish with our anger? Our anger can’t change someone’s heart. It can’t change our circumstances. And it especially can’t give us the righteousness before God we desire.
So, whether you find yourself in aisle two or aisle ten, whether you have insubordinate toddlers or full-grown children, ask the Holy Spirit today to reveal any anger or bitterness that you unknowingly hold in your heart. Your mouth will overflow with what’s in your heart, so you might as well deal with it sooner than later.