As a follow up to yesterday’s post about chasing emotional highs, I want to focus on the destructive emotion of anger. The bible states numerous times that we should be slow to anger. Proverbs 16:32 states that it’s better to control your anger than to mightily take a city. For many, it’s probably easier to take a city. Proverbs 14:29, the quick-tempered man is basically called a fool, as compared to one who is patient who has “great understanding”. Proverbs 19:11 says that a wise man is patient, and brings honor to himself when he forgives.
I have known many people who lack the ability to control their impulsive behavior in this way. The one thing you can’t tell an angry person is, “calm down”. Boy, that sets them off even more. I have to admit, I cannot understand the inability to edit thoughts so that your actions and words won’t injure others. I have seen it so many times. People use their words like a balled up fist in order to pummel the object of their wrath. I am not saying I don’t understand it because I’m so wonderful. It’s not to say that certain situations or people haven’t pushed my buttons. I have had my own experiences where I have lost some measure of control and said or done things which were a departure from my natural behavior. But I don’t recall ever being so angry that I have said or done something for the express purpose of hurting someone.
2 Peter 1:5-8 lists the qualities we must acquire and master in order to achieve maturity in our behavior and to demonstrate love. Self-control is the key in this list. We must have goodness and knowledge, but self-control is making the choice to crucify your flesh, your instinctive reaction and instead applying your knowledge of right versus wrong. When we practice self-control, we will demonstrate the next levels of maturity. It is impossible to skip over self-control and achieve perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and ultimately, love. Godliness, kindness and love are all expressions of humility, which and only come after you have developed self-control.
If you struggle with anger, I strongly recommend committing 2 Peter 1:5-8 to memory. Write down the qualities listed in it and work on developing them. It is only in doing this that you will conquer your destructive impulses, and demonstrate the grace and forgiveness for which Jesus died to give you.