Anger is a natural emotional response, as are other emotions like sadness, and joy, and loneliness, and fear, etc. According to Paul, it is possible to be angry and sin not, Eph 4:26. However, more times than not, anger is a loss of temper, and therefore sin. And because it can be so powerful, anger is often outrageous, Prov 27:4. So how do you handle anger?
Slow down anger with understanding, Prov 14:29.
“He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly”. Notice, Prov 14:17, “he that is soon angry dealeth foolishly”. You look like a fool when you blow up.
People who are prone to fly off the handle need to spend time to understand their anger and learn how to deal with it. It takes understanding to slow it down. It’s foolish to think that somehow it’s just going to go away on it’s own.
There are usually various contributors to your anger and you need to figure out each of them and deal with them one by one. Your sleep habits, your diet, your attitude, your management of stress, your exercise, your spiritual condition, your health, and so forth can all play a part in your ability to control your anger. When you understand how these affect you, then you can make adjustments that will help you slow down your anger.
Realize two things. First, It’s going to take a lot of work on your part. Prov 16:32 says, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty”. You don’t get to be mighty without a lot of effort and you don’t slow down your anger without a lot of work.
Second, once you learn how to slow down your anger, you’re going to see a marked decrease in the strife in your life. Prov 15:18 says, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife”. You’ll finally understand that you were stirring up most of the strife in the first place.
Defer anger with discretion, Prov 19:11.
“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression”. Discretion is the quality of having good judgment and cautious reserve in speech, and the ability to make responsible decisions.
When you have discretion, therefore, you defer your anger even though you might disagree with something strongly or somebody might do something bad against you.
Before you let yourself become angry, you hold your tongue, exercise good judgment, and then make a responsible decision about how to respond. Discretion gives you time to prayerfully consider the right response or whether you should respond at all. Often, you may decide to just pass over the transgression and let the thing go.
Put away anger with kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness, Eph 4:31-32.
In Eph 4:22-24 we are to put off the old man and put on the new man. The new man is capable of doing things the old man finds impossible to do. This is because the new man is “created in righteousness and true holiness”.
Therefore, when it comes to wrath and anger, Eph 4:31, we are to put them away. It’s strange, but when you get mad about a thing you seem to want to hang on to the anger associated with it. Paul said, put it away.
And in place of anger and wrath, we are to become three things:
We are to be kind one to another. You do this through charity. Charity is kind, 1 Cor 13:4. It’s hard to get angry with someone when you are being kind to them. I’ve watched couples get so angry with each other or their kids in the church parking lot and be so kind to other people in church just as soon as they walk in the door. If you can turn it on for the people at church, you can turn it on for one another.
We are to be tenderhearted. Tenderhearted people are easily moved to love, pity, or sorrow. They are compassionate. You can put up with many things when you are tenderhearted because you feel a sense of close emotional association with the other person.
We are to be forgiving. “God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” and you should, therefore, forgive others. At the root of much anger is bitterness and pride. You’re hurt that they have hurt you. And so you hang on to the anger because it fuels your desire for retaliation. The only person you’re hurting is yourself. So, forgiveness is good for you and it is good for them, because you won’t be angry anymore.
Conclusion: How do you handle anger? Slow it down, defer it, and put it away.