Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote a bit about arguing, a form of anger. Looking back over the years, I’ve done several, but our Sunday School lesson covered scripture in greater depth than I ever considered. It was a lesson I needed. The course is ‘Journey Into Building Better Relationships’, this lesson 8 is ‘Controlling Your Anger’ and the base scripture 1 Corinthians 13:5c
Not easily provoked
There are things that raise anger in me. I depended on scripture to justify a righteous anger, such as:
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (Ephesians 4:26 KJV)
This lesson gives a completely different perspective. The Bible contains the word ‘anger’ 234 times in 228 verses, none of them supportive of staying angry. Jesus called for forgiving more than seventy times seven. He expressed exasperation toward religious leaders who mislead God’s people, and He physically lashed out at those who turned God’s house into a den of thieves, but He never advocated anger, always teaching and exampling forgiveness.
There are three Greek words that are used for the English ‘anger’ in the New Testament. The one used in the first part of verse 26 is ὀργίζω, “to provoke or enrage, become exasperated.” Wrath, in the last part, is παροργισμός, “rage.” Basically, we can become exasperated with what is going on around us, but we should never keep that wrath in our minds by the end of the day. Why? One line in the lesson explains:
The reason we should never be angry with a person is we cannot love them and be angry with them at the same time. … Anger is almost always the first thing that must be dealt with before relationship problems can improve.The lesson also asks us to consider the consequences of our anger:
- Anger makes us act like fools – it’s been called ‘temporary insanity (Proverbs 29:11)
- Anger makes conflicts worse – it grows (Proverbs 15:1)
- Anger causes other sins – it cascades (Proverbs 29:22)
- Consider the type of anger
- Contemplate the consequences of the anger
- Concentrate on the cause of the anger
- Constrain our words
- Confess anger as a sin.
Which is good reason why Solomon wrote:
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: (Proverbs 22:24 KJV)
Why should we confess anger as a sin? Two good reasons, in my opinion. First – Jesus has commanded we love, as He did (John 15:12) and anger will keep us from that love. Second – when we sin, that sin is not simply against someone here on earth, it is against God, as David knew (2 Samuel 12:13) for He is the one who gave us commandments.
Thank God, we don’t have to work through our anger alone. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to help us through all temptations, even anger:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)