“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” ~ Thomas A’ Kempis
Anger is defined in Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary as this: derived from an Anglian word meaning to choke, strangle, or vex.
Rage is defined in a similar manner: violent anger accompanied with furious words.
I’ve been on both sides of the anger issue in my life. I have been the angry party and have received the brunt of someone else’s anger. Neither bring about the righteousness of God. It only brings harm to both the perpetrator and the target.
When I was the one struggling with anger, it was hard to see because my motives were good. I had come from a life that I did not want my children to be a part of and in my attempt to protect them and establish what I believed to be the environment that they needed, I often found myself angry when those boundaries were tested. It was easy to point an accusatory finger at anything coming against my established order. When I look back now, I see that my anger protected my attempts to control the environment that I believed was needed in order for my children to be safe. The problem with control is that I am not God and control is simply a means for the flesh to make a world of its own so that it can determine the outcome of any given situation. In other words, control is in direct opposition to faith.
I have also been the target of anger. Anger does not motivate the other person to hear your heart. They are too busy trying to protect their heart from your furious words. Most often, in a moment of anger, our words are much more violent than need be and the effect is brokenness, woundedness, and bitterness. A lack of trust then ensues in the relationship and the woundedness is played over and over when any conflict arises. Oftentimes this accompanies unforgiveness which is an open door for a tormenting spirit to hound you with your experience so that you can not let it go.
There are several types of anger. Chronic anger is when one has become so overwhelmed with life that they respond to most events the same way. A general sense of anger and frustration has taken over their thinking and they find it hard to feel anything but a gnawing sense of discontentment that results in angry responses. This is a state where you are both physically and emotionally drained and are in danger of making your body sick. We are not created to carry constant anger within our souls.
Self-hatred is another form of anger. Abuse victims often have to deal with the self-hatred they carry in order to get well. This anger turns inward and takes responsibility for negative occurrences in life so that this person is so weighted down with guilt and shame that what they feel internally about themselves begins to come out in their actions toward others. They are often highly critical of others because their own internal talk is self-condemning.
Passive-aggressive anger is displayed in the one who always knows what buttons to push. They are angry with someone or about something, but they do not express their anger in words. Instead, they find subtle ways to hurt others without having to deal honestly with their own emotions.
There are more, but all of these can be characterized as works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
Yes, there is a righteous anger, but we have to be careful in the way that we process that type of anger. Scripture says that you can be angry, but not to let the sun go down on your anger. Righteous anger is a response in our souls to injustice, however, if we harbor that response beyond its original intent to motivate us into action, it becomes bitterness. We are called to be intercessors; to stand in the gap; and to be ambassadors of reconciliation. If we become bitter, we do not display the love of God in a way that draws men unto Jesus. Instead we operate in a religious spirit that does more harm to the Kingdom than good.
So how do we overcome our anger issues that have been deeply embedded within us from years of hurt? We first have to see that we are not a victim to our circumstances. Jesus has come to set us free. The pathway to freedom is repentance and repentance requires us taking responsibility for ourselves.
We have to recognize that sin is a force that resides in the flesh. The flesh must be put to death through the power of the Holy Spirit. Truly no man can save Himself. We cannot control our own fleshly responses with out surrender in that area to the Lord’s Spirit. There is a difference between the sin force that resides within the flesh and acts of sin in which we participate. Both require repentance, but the latter oftentimes needs to accompany restitution in order to make things right with another person.
The scripture tells us to walk in the Spirit and we will not participate in the works of the flesh. We have to come to the understanding of our deep need for God, even if we have been saved for many years. We simply have no power over sin in and of ourselves. However, we have been given a promise. Galatians 5:22-25 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
The Lord wants to give us self-control, peace, and gentleness if we will just allow Him to go to those deeply wounded places in our souls and administer His healing oil through the power of the Spirit. In order to find that kind of healing, we must let go of any victim mentality that we are clinging to and see our deep need for His cleansing blood. That is difficult for us because we have such a strong sense of justice, but justice was met at the cross. We are to be a people that love mercy. He who is forgiven much, loves much. Once we understand how black our own sin condition is before God, we can in turn walk in love and mercy toward others through the Spirit’s enablement.
Can you pray this prayer today? “Lord, I am in desperate need of deliverance from my own sin nature. I am exhausted from trying to keep myself under control. I cannot. I cannot fight myself. I cannot fight the demonic realm that exacerbates my anger. I cannot hold this in my soul anymore. I turn away from my learned anger responses and I want to walk in meekness. Will you go to those deep places and apply your healing balm and bring me into wholeness so that I can experientially walk in victory over anger and the feelings of defeat. You have promised to make me the head and not the tail. You have promised that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. I trust you to release in me any unforgiveness or bitterness that I am holding within my heart so that the reality of the benefits of Your kingdom will be evident in my life.”
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