It is amazing where our emotions can take us; from the heights of love and acceptance to the lows of anger and hatred. It is crazy how we can think we are in control of ourselves, mature and beyond the anger of childhood but then something catches us completely by surprise and the outer shell falls away. We always see ourselves to be more than what we are but reality has a nasty way of rearing its ugly head and we are humbled by how much we have fallen short of the glory of God. Our emotions betray our desire to be like Jesus and leaves us feeling empty and spent. Praise the Lord for his great grace that covers us in our sorrow for such a reaction, renewing and restoring us. The trick is to learn from it.
The thing about emotions is that they often reveal the "true" us under all those layers of walls and fortifications. When you are like me, having built up great fortifications to protect yourself, the revealing of true emotions can feel very devastating and draining. Yet, we do not want to stand before our God with any sense of falsehood about us. I find that sometimes our Father will use these moments to have us look in the mirror because as long as we are pretending he can't deal with it. A warning was given to the church of Laodicea:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16)
To cover up your emotions is the wrong way to go because God can't deal with us then. He can deal with wrong emotions but he can't deal with pretenders. Perhaps this is why the Word warns us not to sin in our anger. I do not believe anger is healthy or a God-honouring emotion but burying it is even more unhealthy. Proverbs is filled with warnings about hasty words and what results from them. Most of us have probably reacted to angry words that have provoked us into escalating the situation. That is the sin part when we allow our anger to destroy people. Perhaps that is why this list, things we need to get rid of in ourselves, starts with anger:
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)
How often do the other items in the list spring up out of anger? We feel angry at someone so we strike back with our words, trying to hurt them and often doing it with "over kill". In our anger we forget how powerful words can be.
So what do we do then when we become angry or are facing someone who is angry at us? If you are angry separate yourself from the person or situation until you have gained control over yourself. Wait until the wave has subsided and forgiveness can enter your heart again before attempting to talk about it. If you have an authentic relationship with Jesus then your first concern will not be vengeance but will be forgiveness. However, the shock of the situation can knock anyone off their feet, regardless of their relationship with Christ and a time out is needed; not to hide the emotions but to better understand them and control them.
If you are facing anger then you must cover yourself with the attitude of Jesus; look past the words and consider the person behind them. This is someone God loves and who Jesus died for. There is probably a lot of misunderstanding and high running emotions. Regardless of the waves of words that come crashing over you, put the shield of forgiveness up. As each word is spoken bathe it in forgiveness and God's love. If need be, remove yourself from the situation until temperatures have cooled and then approach the person later, but in an attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation. Yes, the words probably hurt but do not seek yourself in this situation; seek the Kingdom, what Jesus would do in the situation, and the Father will take care of the rest.
We can understand anger and malice in those who are immature in Jesus. Children do a lot of awful things until they have been corrected and grow into maturity. But those of us who consider ourselves to be mature need to measure ourselves against the greatest measuring rod in all of creation and eternity, Jesus Christ:
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)
If we are truly in Christ and he in us, forgiveness should run as deep as love and nothing else should run deeper. If you have been terribly wounded by others there is only one place to turn. Once you know, understand and accept the Father's love, you will also understand how to forgive. In your anger do not sin; allow the love of Jesus to protect and restore your heart. Anger and vengeance are not worth it. The love of Jesus is.