Monday, March 31, 2014

Deal with anger like Christ?

One of Billy Graham's readers asked him about dealing with anger. Graham offers some decent advice, but misrepresents Jesus as some kind of expert at dealing with anger.
Q: I've heard that the Bible teaches it's not right to be angry, but how can you avoid it? When people get under your skin and you get angry, you can't just bury your anger or kid yourself into thinking it doesn't matter, can you? -J.H.F.
To be honest, you can't really avoid anger, but you can control how you react toward the anger that you feel. It is typically a bad idea to bottle up your anger, but that doesn't mean you should just yell at everyone over every minor slight. People deal with anger in many positive ways. Venting to a friend or loved one, working out, writing in a journal, etc.

But sometimes all that is needed is just keeping it to yourself for a few hours. Maybe your favorite sports team lost, or your boss said something or did something that pissed you off. In the heat of the moment, you may be very angry, but given a little time, you may realize that it wasn't as big a deal as you felt it was at the time. It was just a game after all (there's always next week), or maybe that last minute project went far better than you thought it would. The important thing with anger, is to not let it control you. Feeling anger is only natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. Just learn how to best react to and deal with it so that it doesn't run and ruin your life.
A: You're only partly right; unfortunately we often do put a lid on our anger or make ourselves think we aren't really angry - at least for a time. But hidden anger can eat away at us like a deadly cancer, hurting us both emotionally and spiritually - and sometimes exploding into uncontrollable rage.
As I said, sometimes time shows that we were overreacting in the heat of the moment. Though bottling up all your anger is certainly a bad idea.
On the other hand, great harm also comes when we allow anger to overwhelm us. As you go through the pages of this newspaper today, I'm sure you'll find many illustrations of this tragic truth. Murder, domestic violence, child abuse, terrorism, and even full-scale war often have their roots in uncontrolled anger. The Bible rightly says, "An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins" (Proverbs 29:22).
Or religious parents who refuse to obtain actual medical care for a sick child, violent religious conflicts, religious politicians trying to force their beliefs on the masses, etc. Yes, there is much in the news that can make people upset or angry. But the important part is how they respond to that anger. A Christian bombing an abortion clinic would be a failure to control anger. However, a non-believer who writes their congressman over a 1st Amendment violation directed their anger in a healthy way.
But the Bible points us to another way: the way of Christ. When we follow Christ, we don't let circumstances upset or overwhelm us, but turn them over to God and seek His peace and patience.  Things that used to make us angry will no longer do so, because we'll begin seeing them from God's point of view. I often think of Jesus in this regard. He was falsely accused and unjustly condemned to death, yet he never got angry or lashed out at His accusers. As the Bible says, "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth" (Isaiah 53:7).
Wait... Is Jesus really that great of a role model to look toward in regard to dealing with anger? Sure, there was the whole 'turn the other cheek' bit, but that's far from the whole story. Try on Matthew 21:12-13 for size...
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'”
Going all nuts and flipping tables doesn't exactly sound like a great anger management course to me...
Commit your life - including your emotions - to Jesus Christ. Then ask Him to help you face life;s situations the way He did - with trust and peace, instead of anger.
Yes, be just like Jesus and turn from anger. Or, you know... Just resort to destruction of property. Because with Jesus, it's all on the table.


-Brain Hulk

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