Apr 26, 2013
I mentioned in my last post that someone made me angry.
So I asked — How should Christians view anger? And I saw from Matt 5:22, Eph 4:31, and Col 3:8 that I should see my anger as wrong.
Then I asked — Why is it wrong? And I saw that anger means trying to satisfy my pain by getting back at the person who hurt me — by thinking bad thoughts about them, giving them the silent treatment, slandering them, and so forth.
But that’s wrong, because God tells me not to get back at people, and because only Jesus Christ can fully satisfy my heart-pain.
OK. But that leaves one more question —
How Can I Overcome My Anger?
This is something God calls Christians to do —
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Eph 4:31)
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Col 3:8)
So God calls me to put away all my anger. But how?
Many of us try will-power or psychological techniques, like —
- Taking a deep breath.
- Counting our blessings.
- Letting go of what is troubling us.
- Focusing on positive thoughts.
These might bring temporary relief. But the relief won’t last, because none of these techniques deal with the root cause.
What Is The Root Cause?
In 1 Samuel 18 we read that Saul became very angry —
And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” And Saul was very angry. (1Sam 18:7-8)
Why was Saul angry? It’s because David’s victories, and the women’s song, had taken away Saul’s fame. This loss of fame caused Saul pain.
At this point Saul could have turned his heart to the Lord, confessed his desire for fame, and sought his heart-satisfaction not in fame but in knowing God, beholding God, and worshiping God.
If Saul would have done this, God would have met him. Saul would have been filled with fulness of joy in God’s presence (Psa 16:11), and his heart-pain would have been fully satisfied in God Himself.
But that’s not what Saul did.
Saul turned his back on God. Saul tried to satisfy his heart-pain by being angry at David — by getting back at David. So Saul nurtured bad feelings toward him, entertained evil thoughts about him, planned ways to hurt and even kill him.
So what’s the root cause of Saul’s anger? It’s that Saul had turned his back on God and was seeking to satisfy his heart-pain by getting back at David.
Is That What I Was Doing?
Yes. To my shame, it was. Someone had caused me pain. But I was not bringing that pain to God.
Instead, I was seeking to satisfy my pain by getting back at this person — by thinking of how wrong he was, grumbling about him to my wife, having imaginary conversations where I told him off.
That’s the root cause of our anger. Someone causes us loss, but we turn our backs on God, and seek to satisfy our heart-pain by getting back at those who caused it.
So What Can I Do?
When I saw the root cause I could see what I needed to do. I needed to stop trusting that getting-back-at-someone would satisfy my heart-pain, and I needed to turn to Jesus Christ and trust Him to satisfy my heart-pain.
That was not going to be easy. But Jesus has already put my anger to death on the Cross (Rom 6:6). Which means that now, by His Spirit, He can put it to death in my heart (Rom 8:13).
So I turned to Jesus Christ just as I was — angry, upset, and bitter. I confessed that I had turned my back on Him, and was looking elsewhere for heart-satisfaction. I asked Him to forgive me through the Cross. And He assured me of complete forgiveness (if you struggle with this, pray over 1 John 1:9, Isa 53:4-6, and Rom 4:7).
Then I prayed and asked for more of the Spirit’s work in my heart. I asked the Father to strengthen my faith so I could see and feel Jesus once again as my all-satisfying Treasure. I prayed verses like Luke 11:13, 2Cor 3:18, Jer 2:12-13.
Then I set my heart on God’s majesty, power, glory, and love — using verses like Gal 2:20, Rev 1:5, Psa 138:5-6, and John 20:30-31.
I prayed over these verses until I felt the Holy Spirit strengthen my faith, and change my heart. Slowly my hard, bitter heart softened. I started to see, and then feel, the glory of Jesus Christ.
And as I worshiped Jesus Christ my heart-pain was healed. I felt peace and even joy in Christ.
And my anger was gone.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- What Does The Bible Say About Anger?
- 6 Reasons Heart-Satisfaction Is Crucial
- How To Be Content
- Don’t Settle For Just Knowing The Truth — FEEL The Truth (4-min video)
(Picture is from Microsoft Publisher Clipart.)