When I got out of college, I worked a while for a small town newspaper. The county authorities wanted to build a new jail since ours had been built around the turn of the century.
I got the job of writing an article that would tilt taxpayers towards supporting a new jail.
So I visited the local hoosgow and found it a pretty bleak place. I noticed that someone had scrawled in the plaster of one wall, “Otis was here.” Otis was one of the policemen of our small town. I didn’t know if it was him or Otis of Andy of Mayberry.
If I didn’t have the conviction before, I knew for sure after that visit, that I only wanted to see that sad place and not be locked up there. I seemed to remember that our photographer took my picture staring out between the bars. I wish I still had it. My grandkids would be impressed.
My Time In Jail
You know what, though? I’ve been there in life; I’ve gotten so mad about some things that when I finally wised up and tried to escape my anger, I couldn’t do it.
I was in anger jail.
The Bible says that the man who controls himself is better than a warrior who takes a city! (Proverbs 16:32). In other words, it takes a lot of strength, courage, cunning and boldness to control anger and other unruly reactions to life.
It can be done. I have done it. Honestly, I have to do it often. Here are seven « picks” to help you open the lock and escape your prison of anger.
1. Put a limit on your anger. Anyone who doesn’t get angry at times is emotionally dead. But recognize it. Evaluate it. Build a plan in reaction to it and get rid of it! Remember, Don’t let the sun go down before you’ve resolved it (so it’s better not to get mad at night, huh?)
2. Get healed. Often the roots of anger go way back. The thing we explode about may not be the real reason we’re mad. When we’re like that we’re horribly difficult to live with, because the person we’re angry at now can’t understand our violent reaction.
Childhood abuse, frustration because of poverty, or a dysfunctional parent, and dozens of other things—all these mark us deeply. God’s healing isn’t just for our body. It’s also for that deepest soul part of our being.
And sometimes it’s just a character trait, a way we’ve developed to react to unwanted situations. Or maybe our parents reacted to problems like that and we’re just repeating what we saw at home.
Stress? No problem … EXPLOSION!
Bring God On the Scene
One of the fruits of being filled with the Holy Spirit is self discipline:
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23 New Living Translation)
What we don’t have enough of, He has plenty of, and He gives self-control generously to those who seek Him. You’ve got to get healed.
You can never go any further in life than your anger will let you, and for many that’s a short tether. You’ll be running free when suddenly you’re jerked back by that chain of anger around your neck.
3. Make a conscious decision to obey. Victory doesn’t start in your feelings or emotions but in an intentional choice to obey God. Here’s what He told us:
“What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life… Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
“Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
“Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:22-25, 29-32, The Message)
Well, I see some of you nodding off so instead of discussing all seven, we’re going to stop here and talk about the others next week. Your assignment, if you decide to accept it, is to back up and THINK about these three responses to anger. How are you doing in your anger battle?
Can you suggest some other ways to respond to anger?
You guys know what? I love you and I really want us to get healed, to taste that ABUNDANT LIFE that Jesus promises us. Help us God!
“No credit goes to the person who vents, who opens his spleen and shares his anger. No points for bravery or honesty or getting in touch with his feelings. Anger shared is not anger ameliorated.
Talk about it, don’t talk with it. Point it out, and then leave it there, on the floor, where, unengaged, the anger can’t help but wither and die.” Seth Godin
“If you hang on to anger and the desire for revenge, eventually it becomes like a cancer and it will destroy you, » Bill Pelke, a man who forgave the woman who murdered his grandmother.