This past week Michael preached “Overcoming Anger” from James 1:19-26. Anger is an intense emotional response to being denied something we really want. It can be legitimate anger, but even so, typically the legitimacy of our anger soon intersects with the sin of our heart, and it leads us away from “the righteousness that God requires” (v20).
If you are quick to dismiss the label of being an angry person, be sure you’re not also dismissing the many ways anger can express itself. It’s not always the red-in-the-face explosion. Here are a few other ways anger surfaces:
- Wounded Pride—“I’m your best friend until you say something I don’t like. I often present my bitterness and resentment as suffering.”
- Control Freak—“If I feel like my autonomy is threatened, I’ll manipulate situations and people to position myself for maximum benefit and power. Collateral damage is of little concern to me. My primary goal is to be vindicated.”
- Frustration & Irritation—“I’m tired all the time because my critical spirit is exhausting me. I have a low-grade discontentment that keeps me at a distance from people and causes me to be easily annoyed by others.”
- Self-Directed Anger—“I wrestle with powerful insecurities that always seem to pin me against the mat. They cripple me. I can hardly love anyone, and joy is elusive. I always feel guilty, even when I haven’t done anything wrong.”
- “Victim” Anger—“I’m never to blame, at least, never fully to blame. I’m always getting hurt by insensitive people who don’t understand me and what I’m going through. I am extremely bitter deep down inside.”
- “Where’s God?” Anger—“It seems pretty obvious to me that God hasn’t done his job at being good and wise. Somebody needs to stand up to him, and I guess that person is me.”
These are just a few. Maybe you see yourself in one of these descriptions. We all have anger in our hearts because we all have rebellion in our hearts. But the Spirit is constantly working to drive anger out of our hearts and to conform us to the likeness of Jesus, the man who was cursed at, but never cursed in return; who was unjustly crucified, but trusted his Father to vindicate him. This same Spirit is producing in our hearts the fruit that only he can create: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self control. This is anger-destroying fruit.
If you are in an “angry season” in your life, you must repent for the sake of your soul. You don’t need to control things, and besides, you don’t know how to anyway. You don’t need to be right; Jesus is right, on your behalf. You don’t need to whine and complain, because your Father knows what you need before you even ask him—and besides, it will only produce a bitterness that will cause you to walk away from Jesus.
Remember, in Christ, nothing has been taken away from you that you deserved except judgment, and nothing has been done to you that you didn’t deserve accept full forgiveness and acceptance into God’s family. See the difference?