Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Soul and Anger

It seems that most of the time the soul is often killed by anger.  Hurtful words, regret, fear, hatred, resentment, prejudice, loss of hope, rage and so on are all soul killers if we do not keep them in check.  In some ways anger is rooted in all of these.  It is no wonder that we grow up being taught to be guilty for our anger.  Look at all the damage it causes. 

This leads to a further frustration of feeling invalidated by someone saying "Don't be angry" or "You should not be angry" when in fact I am angry.  I can no more turn off my anger than to stop thinking about hunger when I have not eaten for most of the day.  Stuffing anger is not helpful because it will always come out in other ways (passive aggression, rage episodes, or depression).  So it would seem that you are stuck with no good options when it comes to anger.  I can think of that moment stuck between stuffing it or letting it all out and that hopeless feeling that no matter what I do it is not going to be good.  That is a soul killer!

Which leads me to the conclusion that:

...man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
James 1:20 (HCSB)

Yet we have this:

Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (HCSB)

I have read this passage and wondered, "OK, but how do I do that?"  Yet there is two immediate practical applications in this verse if we open ourselves to hear what God is saying

  • Do not allow anger to fester "Don't let the sun go down" tells me that the time to deal with anger is in the here and now.  Not tomorrow, not next week, but right now.  However, it does not say go on the attack.  It just says deal with it now!!!!
  • The motivation is a spiritual one.  Our anger can give the devil a foothold in our lives.  Unresolved anger is giving opportunity for spiritual downfall.

This passage is closely connected to this:

Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still. Selah Offer sacrifices in righteousness and trust in the Lord.
Psalms 4:3-5 (HCSB)

Continuing our list then:

  • Know that your relationship with God sets you apart.  There is a peace that comes from knowing God.  In that moment know God and choose faithfulness.
  • Call on the Lord.  Prayer in a moment of anger can release you from the bondage of misplaced passion
  • Meditate (reflect) sort out, understand, your anger. 
  • Be still!  There is a close connection between being still and knowing God (Ps 46:10)
  • Selah which is most likely a musical term for pausing.  But in that moment of anger pause can be the most powerful thing you can do.
  • Often doing what is right is a sacrifice.  Anger demands it's own.  Anger demands it's rights.  Anger demands others agree.  I am sure that you can think of other things that anger demands.  Righteousness often requires sacrifice and surrender.  These actions are in opposition to our anger most of the time.  At that moment think what is the righteous thing to do.  If it involves sacrifice or surrender then it is likely that you have stumbled upon the very thing that needs to be done in that moment. 
  • Finally but certainly not least "trust in the Lord"  We repeat that phrase so often it is a clich√© to us.  If "Trust in the Lord" has become a mindless phrase then take some time to examine why.  Trust in the Lord is a powerful spiritual truth that can find its way into the depth of your soul and move you from destruction to life. 

I have often said "Anger in and of itself is not good nor bad.  It is what you do with it that makes it good or bad."  I hope that some of these suggestions are helpful to you in your effort to "be angry and do not sin."

I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the Lord swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (HCSB)

Have a Blessed Day