Many people who know very little about Jesus do know that He threw the money changers out of the temple. Others who know very little about the Bible know about another verse:
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. (Ephesians 4:26, KJV)
People use these few verses to justify their anger. I take this verse to mean that if you are aware of being angry you should deal with it quickly. The deadline is sundown.
Anger is a normal response to unrighteousness. Are we to conclude then, that our anger is God-given and alerts and energizes us into action to see that wrongs are made right? Assuming that there are people or issues worthy of focusing wrath upon, what or who would they be? As I study the Bible, I do not find that we are instructed to vent our anger against evil causes or toward evil people. Evaluate these verses:
“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you . . . [The Father] makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good.” (Matthew 5:44-45, NKJV)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV)
Teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. (Titus 2:4, KJV)
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39, NKJV)
Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. (Romans 12:19, LB)
Love the brotherhood. (1 Peter 2:17, NKJV)
Abound in love . . . for all men. (1 Thessalonians 3:12, NASB)
If we eliminate all of the above people as objects of our anger, who is scripturally left that can be the object of our anger?
The Bible does state that anger is a natural expression of our humanness; it is a natural expression of our “old man” and “the old sin nature.” But the Bible says that anger is “sin” and it is not okay.
Look at what the Bible actually says about man’s anger:
The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:20, NKJV)
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. (Psalm 37:8, NKJV)
Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9, NKJV)
Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go, Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul. (Proverbs 22:24-25, NKJV)
A quick-tempered man acts foolishly. (Proverbs 14:17, NKJV)
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32, NKJV)
“Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Matthew 5:22, NKJV)
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (Ephesians 4:31, NKJV)
Put off all these: anger, wrath, malice. (Colossians 3:8, NKJV)[Lay] aside all malice. (1 Peter 2:1, NKJV)
Anger is a universal fact of life. Law enforcement people report that at least half of the homicides committed in this country involve people who know each other. Millions of women are beaten up each year by their husbands. Millions of children are abused each year by angry parents. At any time it seems that people experience an explosion of varying degrees of intensity of displeasure, antagonism, belligerence, rage, and violent passion.
The difficult problem is how can a human being, who naturally responds angrily to the circumstances of life, change from responding in anger to responding in love? Humanly speaking, we must admit that this biblical advice is impossible to attain. We all know that to bottle up or swallow your anger is no solution. Bottled up anger can ruin your health, twist your thinking, and make you a walking time bomb, set to explode at some external provocation. What can a person do? You can attempt to manage this anger yourself or you can turn to God for help. Humanly speaking, what can you do to tame your anger?
Children are a large group that are victims of anger expression. Some advice was proposed in a newspaper advertisement by the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse. It was entitled 12 Alternatives to Whacking Your Kid. The ad advised that when big and little problems of your everyday life pile up to the point where you feel like lashing out—stop! Take time out. Don’t take it out on your kid. Try any or all of these simple alternatives—whatever works for you. The ad goes on to list twelve:
- Stop in your tracks. Step back. Sit down.
- Take five deep breaths. Inhale. Exhale, slowly, slowly.
- Count to ten. Better yet, twenty. Or say the alphabet out loud.
- Phone a friend. A relative. Even the weather.
- Still mad? Punch a pillow. Or munch an apple.
- Thumb through a magazine, book, newspaper, photo album.
- Do some sit-ups.
- Pick up a pencil and write down your thoughts.
- Take a hot bath. Or a cold shower.
- Lie down on the floor, or just put your feet up.
- Put on your favorite record.
- Water your plants.
I was reading an article on anger management while traveling in an airplane. This is typical advice offered by anger management professionals. The authors proposed four steps:
- Cool off before you sound off. They made suggestions similar to the newspaper ad.
- ldentify what causes you to feel anger. How do you take criticism or teasing? Develop an awareness of what triggers your anger.
- How can you make anger work for you? Learn what forms of anger expression are acceptable to your colleagues. Find something constructive that you can do to work off your anger.
- Communicate your anger. Use facts and objective information that others need to know about you. Help them see that your response was appropriate and reasonable. Develop information so you can help each other avoid anger-producing situations.4
Is it really true that we must live with angry responses all our lives? Is there no other way to find freedom from anger than in perfecting self-control, resolving human relation problems, and altering the circumstances we get plunged into? Is there no other way than to back off and calm down?
As far as I know, that’s all anyone humanly speaking knows to do at this point in history. This is the struggle that the humanist must live with because anger happens so fast you often act before you know it.
The Bible offers a radical solution: “Put it away. Stop it.” This is humanly impossible. Yes, it takes a miracle. You need supernatural help.