How Christians Can Deal with Anger in a Positive Way
Biblical Advice for the Practicing Christian on Anger Management
Anger is a common emotion that every person experiences. Handling anger in a way that is constructive and not destructive, however, is a skill that needs to be learned and a life battle for many individuals to overcome. Here are six easy steps to help “RE-direct” angry feelings to bring about a constructive result.
Recognize Your Angry Feelings
The first step to redirecting angry feelings is to simply recognize that you are feeling angry. Acknowledge to yourself and before God that you are feeling upset whenever you find yourself in a situation that is stressful, frustrating or bothersome. By first admitting our feelings and honestly confessing them before God, even in our minds, we begin to defuse the situation by bringing it to light.
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not live out the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:5-8)
Resolve not to use Ungodly Anger
Once we recognize the angry feelings that are building up within us, we must make a decision not to allow our angry feelings to be manifested in a way that would be destructive or harmful to others or to ourselves. Although we may feel justified in our anger, the Bible makes it clear that human anger, or wrath, is not right in the eyes of God.
“So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20) “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Remove Yourself from the Situation
Making a decision to not express anger in a godly way does not necessarily take away the feelings of anger. In fact, the temptation to respond in anger, or retaliate in some manner can still jab at the mind with provocative thoughts like,
“I don’t deserve to be treated this way.”
“This is unfair.”
“How dare they do this to me!”
“I can’t believe this is happening to me!”
For this reason, it’s often wise to remove ourselves from the situation that is causing us to feel angry. When we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot physically remove ourselves from (like being stuck in traffic), we need to find other “way(s) of escape”. For instance, it may mean turning on some Christian music in the car to take your thoughts off the situation and onto the Lord.
“No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted aboved what you are able, but will with the tempation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Re-evaluate the Situation based on Eternity
Once we have removed ourselves from the situation, we need to work with God to re-evaluate the circumstances. I personally, like to take a walk with God and “sort things out”. This is a time to tell God exactly how you are feeling and why you are feeling the way you do. “I feel so angry at Joe, God! I can’t believe the way he spoke to me in the meeting today.”
If you are not accustomed to speaking to God so forthrightly, this may feel a little awkward at first. Just remember, God knows your thoughts even before you’ve expressed them to Him, so you are not hiding anything from Him by keeping your feelings to yourself.
As we bring our anger to the light, we re-evaluate the situation by viewing it from a heavenly perspective.
Consider some of these questions:
“In eternity, will this incident matter very much?”
“In light of all that God has forgiven me, can I forgive this wrongdoing?”
“How can I see this situation from the other person’s perspective?”
Reconcile with God and Man
After confessing our feelings to God, we must move to reconciliation between God and man. Although we may have been treated unfairly, it is likely that we ourselves have sinful motives. We reconcile with God by asking Him to forgive us of our own sinful attitude(s) that have allowed us to be provoked to anger. Then in light of our own need for forgiveness, we choose to forgive the other person(s) that have offended us. This process of repentance towards God and man is like the releasing of helium balloon. Slowly, but surely, our feelings of anger will begin to dissipate as we give and receive forgiveness.
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”(Ephesians 4:31-32)
Respond in a Decisive, Thoughtful and Godly Way.
Once we have sorted through our feelings and sought out forgiveness from God and for others, we need to respond in a way that will bring about restoration to the relationship. Instead of responding in a way of retaliation, we can actually respond with blessing.
Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.” Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21)
But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45)
If we feel it necessary to rehash the situation or explain to the other person(s) how we feel, it should always be done in a humble, non-accusatory manner. Instead of using terminology that would put the other person on the defensive, we can begin by confessing our own faults in the situation and sharing God’s perspective. “I felt disrespected by the things you said to me at the meeting today. I understand that you may have had perfectly good intentions in what you said, but I felt hurt. I admit that I overreacted and would ask your forgiveness.”
“Confess your offenses to one another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective.” (James 5:16)
If the other person is willing, it is always best to close the conversation in prayer and “seal the deal” between them and before God. In the end, we can use a situation that has the power to destroy and turn it around into an opportunity to grow in our relationship with others and with God.
It may be helpful to memorize each of these six steps or to even write them out on a 3×5 card that will be easily accessible when needed. Or you may simply choose one of these areas that you want to focus on improving, with God’s help, to redirect your own angry feelings. By having a plan you will be better equipped and prepared the next time you are tempted to use your anger in an ungodly way.