Slow to Anger
Why are we so easily angered?
Just hours and not yet quite days later people on social media and more specifically Christians were angered over the Starbucks Red Cup Christmas gate. Never mind that Christians were recently angered that corporations were using Christmas for financial gain by placing Christian symbols on their products only a short while ago and now Christians are angered by the absence of holiday design placement.
Should holiday images be on the cups? Does it matter? I’m not so sure that it does but the reaction is revealing. Most of all and says much about what Christians think but also to what is on their heart. Now, I know that I am not speaking for all Christians. Many have responded – or better not responded – and many don’t care.
The one question remains, “Why are Christians and people in general so easily angered?” The internet and social media seem to spawn a host of things to be angry over and people move from one thing that angers them to another. Anger is not always fueled with over the top actions. Complaining is often just soft spoken anger and we see a lot of this scrolling through news feeds on social media too.
God is clear in his Word that our anger and complaining does not accomplish anything of value to God or other people (James 1:20). The emotion of anger recognizes that something matters and that something is wrong. Making much out of things that don’t matter to God or expressing anger in a wrong way is simply our way of saying, “I want my way!” and “My will be done!” Galatians 5:16-17 says,“But I say,walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other,to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” When we walk according to our desires then we make much of what doesn’t matter or we want a good thing more than we want God (James 4:1-2)
Change in our emotions begins with our relationship with God. First, we must recognize that God is patient and slow to anger (Exodus 34:6). Second, we believe that God is merciful Anger is merciless (James 4:6). Then when we confess our sin, that we are walking according to our desires and not God’s, the Spirit of God will give us the ability to express our anger God’s way and not our way. Venting or yelling into a pillow or having a good scream doesn’t really satisfy the need of our soul. Sure it may bring temporary relief is not an ongoing solution and it may only lead to greater fits of future frustration.
God’s anger is redemptive and yours can be redemptive too! Here are four questions to ask yourself about your anger.
What are the circumstances around me and inside of me when I get angry? Note both the external circumstances and your internal responses. It helps to write this down for further reflection.
How do I act when I get angry? Look again at your list and write down what you do when you get angry. Do you express your anger in bitterness (stuffing your anger)? or arguing (expressing it freely)? or slander? or a combination of these and other expressions? Where there times when anger was expressed constructively? How?
What did I want when I became angry? This question gets at your motives.
What Scripture in God’s Word speaks to my anger and its expression? The Bible answers this question every time but you will have to search your Bible. If you need help ask a friend, pastor, small group leader, discipler or elder.
Ask God to help you express you anger in a tenderhearted manner that brings flourishing rather than destruction.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons and daughters of God.”