The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Do You Own Anger or Does Anger Own You?!?

Posted on: October 18, 2016



We all know that anger is not generally a virtue. There are times, of course, when it is called for. Even God may get angry (Psalm 103:8). But regarding the ordinary affairs of people, it is, perhaps, the most common character weakness.

There are a host of pithy and compelling quotes about anger.

  • There are two things a person should never be angry at; what they can help, and what they cannot. – Plato
  • A man is about as big as the things that make him angry. – Winston Churchill
  • For every minute you remain angry, you give up 60 seconds of peace of mind. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

And, of course, the Bible speaks to anger:

  • He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. – Proverbs 16:32
  • This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. – James 1:19-20
  • Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,and do not give the devil an opportunity. – Ephesians 4:26-27

Yet, in spite of all this good wisdom and truth, many of us still struggle with anger. Do you see yourself in any of these possibilities:

  • When the on-line tech support person treats us rudely
  • When someone treats us disrespectfully
  • When our children act silly and embarrass us
  • When our goals are blocked
  • When we are made to look foolish
  • When something unfair happens to us
  • When someone takes something from us

And we get angry at a host of other things that come to us and keep us from getting our way.

As a result, anger can cause us to act foolishly or self-destructively, or rob us of everyday peace of mind, or interfere with our relationship with God and our ability to grow spiritually.

There are a number of things that can help us get over anger. The most powerful for me has been to memorize and meditate on Scripture.

As a younger person, I struggled mightily with anger, especially before I became a Christian. And while becoming a Christian as a young adult helped, it by no means solved the problem. And I carried that anger over into my marriage where it interfered with my relationship with my wife and it put a ceiling on my emotional maturity.

Though I made progress with my anger in the ensuing years, that progress was nothing compared to the progress I eventually experienced by memorizing and meditating upon Scripture.

I had known the biblical passages on anger my entire Christian life. However, just knowing the passages didn’t help. It wasn’t until I memorized passages so well that I could recite them with the speed of an auctioneer, and then began to mentally rehearse those passages for days, and weeks, and months, that I finally began to experience broad and deep transformation in this area.

As a result, memorizing and meditating upon biblical passages on anger and other related topics is the number one strategy I would recommend for overcoming anger.

Having said that, there is another truth that dawned on me that has played a powerful supporting role to the memorization and meditation process.

That truth is this: any person or any circumstance that angers you conquers you.

I began to see that I was like a bull charging at a cape being dangled by a matador.

Just think about that image. Matadors know that a bull will charge a cape dangled in front of it (it doesn’t matter what color). So the matadors have made a sport out of the bulls’ uncontrolled anger. They goad the bulls to charge over and over again to put on display the matadors’ bravery and skill. And then they kill the bulls.

In the same way, if our anger is not conquered, it will manipulate us and prompt us to self-defeating behavior.

From a psychological standpoint, we can see that if we have no control over our anger, we are vulnerable to every stupid, arrogant, and careless action of anyone who comes into our life.

Such people come into our life, do their stupid, arrogant, or careless thing, and we blow like a volcano, erupting on cue.

And, from a spiritual standpoint, it is even worse. Christians understand that we are in a spiritual war. We have an enemy that employs carefully calculated strategies to defeat us (Ephesians 6:10-18).

If the enemy knows that we have no control over our anger, he will strategically bring people and circumstances into our lives for the expressed purpose of igniting our anger.

In this way, he can compromise our integrity, damage our self-esteem, ruin our reputation, put a ceiling on our spiritual growth, destroy our peace and happiness, and may even spur us into calamitous behavior.

Like a spiritual matador, he will goad us into self-destructive behavior with the intent, if he can prod us far enough, to destroy us.

All we have to do is say to ourselves, “Hey, the enemy is playing me like a violin. He is goading me, deceiving me into self-destructive behavior by dangling a cape (foolish, arrogant, careless person, etc,) in front of me, knowing that I will charge it mindlessly. I’m not going to do that anymore. Why would I allow myself to be under the control of other people and circumstances? Why would I allow people and circumstances to conquer me?”

When we say that, the game is over.

When we understand that Satan’s desire is to move us like pawns in a circumstantial chess set – for his purposes – when we see that he laughs at our lack of control, when we perceive that our anger puts us at his mercy, it can break the hold that anger has on us and help us rise above the exasperating people and circumstances that otherwise undermine us.

Of course, there will be times when people and circumstances will arise suddenly or with such force that we will get pushed past our maturity level. But if we memorize and meditate on Scripture, and then keep in mind the image of the enemy manipulating us through our anger, we can experience powerful and rapid transformation. Anger will no longer “own” us.

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