Just one more thing: Overcoming the crutch of angerJust one more thing: Overcoming the crutch of anger

   A colleague of mine said. "Faulkner, all you ever write about are principles from the book of Proverbs.
   I guess he's right. Over the years I've found so many helpful principles in this book that I come back to it time after time. I guess once I master and apply what is in this one little book of the Bible, I'll move on to another book.
   However, I have to be honest with myself; at times I feel after 24 years of working at overcoming, I'm still in kindergarten. Which brings me to the subject one of those basic human emotions that all of us must learn to control- being angry!

Be angry in Bible

   Many are surprised that the words be angry are in the Bible. "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity" (Ephesians 4:26, 27, New American Standard Bible). Those words come only a few verses before the passage that says, "Be kind to one another" (Ephesians 4:32).
   Being good to each other means sharing love and affection, but it also means having the honesty and courage to say. "I'm angry!"
   The question is, how is that anger expressed.
   I'm sure you have noticed how vision seems to narrow to a single focal point when we are angry. All we see is one thing the immediate happening we do not like. We lose sight of all else, even the factors that caused the problem.
   Many persons retreat into silence, some scream and swear, [line/text missing] anger by slamming doors or throwing something. These patterns were often times picked up from the families in which we grew up. We feel at home with our own way of reacting, even if we dislike it in others and are ashamed of it in ourselves.

How to handle anger

   Before anger overcomes us we need to ask ourselves a few pointed questions:
   First. "What caused this to occur?" "What am I overlooking?" Don't ask: "Why me? Why does this have to happen to me?" When we do this we are totally closed to any better understanding or to a broader perspective. Be realistic; anger is seldom realistic.
   To illustrate, let's suppose we are going to Sabbath services or Bible study and we are late. We take the freeway or parkway for a couple of miles, but as we come up on the on-ramp we find the freeway crowded and traffic moving slowly. Soon it's almost at a standstill and we can't turn around; we're stuck!
   "Oh no!" we exclaim. "We'll never make it." Then in anger we shout at one of the children in the back seat: "If you'd just get ready when I tell you to! Now we'll never get there on time."
   We begin to blame someone else for the predicament. We fail to recognize that we need to be prepared for such circumstances, in this instance by getting an earlier start.
   And what do we end up doing? We just wait it out whether we like it or not. We experience this almost every day, but since we don't like to wait, we usually don't include these possibilities in our planning.
   [line/text missing] others feeling?" Not so much how are they feeling about you, but how is this problem making them feel. It's impossible to identify and care for another's feelings, and be angry at the same time.
   Let us suppose, for example, that you are to meet your wife at a certain store at 5:15 p.m. to select some items you've been needing. The store closes at 5:30. She arrives just as it closes and you're angry.
   What do you do? Start screaming: "You NEVER get any place on time! You're ALWAYS late!"?
   If you do, you'll probably eat crow, for she may hasten to explain that a traffic jam hindered her or she got a phone call just as she was leaving home.
   "He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly" (Proverbs 14:29).
   Oops, some more of that common sense from Proverbs again.
   Third, ask, "Is there any way I might have caused the incident to happen?" This is being responsible. If we find what caused the problem, identify with the feelings of others and do our best to be realistic, then we can determine what contribution we made to our own aggravation.

Getting control of anger

   It is a responsible, emotionally mature Christian who can hold his or her anger in check and ask these three questions to get a better perspective on whatever is aggravating. He acknowledges that he is angry, but he tries to manage the emotion so that it does not control him. Not allowing Satan a toe hold!
   Anger requires more energy output than any other emotion and is therefore totally devastating to the one practicing it. As maturing Christians, let's do as James exhorted, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:19, 20, New International Version).

Publication Date: July 13, 1981
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