I used to be a very angry man. When I was young I would slam doors, punch walls and throw things as an expression of that anger. Many people who know me now would never believe that about me, would never have suspected. I used to be very passionate in my anger and it was wrong. The Lord had to save me from that passion, and he did. Some would say that I am a very patient man now but I see it more as a man who has learned to trust the King who changed me.
It is not that I am void of anger, I have only learned that I am not the center of the universe. Consider it for a moment: What causes us to become angry? Is it not when we consider that someone has wronged us, when someone has trampled on us or on something we love or when they steal something away from us? This is an opportunity to show yourself to be a disciple of Jesus, possessed by his peace and here to serve others. Consider what Jesus taught:
- love your enemies
- do good to those who hate you
- bless those who curse you
- pray for those who mistreat you
- If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.
- If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
- If anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. (Luke 6:27-30)
Of course the only way to have such an impossible attitude is to experience the love of Jesus. There is no way we can find it in our humanism to live such an attitude with no resentment without a great revelation of God`s love. Jesus taught this:
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:32-35)
Again, impossible without the revelation and possession of God`s love. Quite radical even in this enlightened age we live in. Most people are charitable but they are not willing to be abused for that charity. Most people love those who are kind to them but they still hold grudges and seek vengeance. Most people look for justice and hope to profit from someone else`s hurtful actions. Essentially we are a very angry society because we are a very selfish society, stumbling around in the dark, trying to survive with no consideration of the true light Jesus brings to us and is to us.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
He is quoting Psalm 4 here. The passage reads:
In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
5 Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord. (Psalm 4:4-5)
The secret to having control over your anger is the last part; have a right relationship with God and trust Jesus. Trust that he uses all things for your good. Trust that he is looking out for you. Trust that you can leave all your personal concerns in his hands while you are busy with the Kingdom's work. Trust and consider others more important than yourself. Consider that Jesus set aside all his personal interests and self-preservation and laid down his life for you. He in turn tells you to love others in this same manner.
If you are truly passionate about Jesus then there is no room in your heart for self-centered anger. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. He is a just God which means we really need to pray for our enemy, that they would come to know Jesus before they come face to face with our just God. If you are a true disciple of Jesus you will obey his teachings. If you truly love him, you will do what he has commanded. With love, true love, self-sacrificing love, there is no room for selfish anger.