Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Rules For Handling Anger

Two forceful personalities in a relationship are like two rivers flowing into one; there is going to be a strong current. Anger can be instant like a flash of lightning, or prolonged like the rumble of thunder. Sometimes we clash painfully, other times we distance and silently abandon the relationship. But anger handled the right way doesn’t have to destroy. Here are God’s rules for handling your anger.
Rule 1: Keep it honest: Stop telling lies. Let us tell the truth. Do not sin by letting anger control you (Ephesians 4:25-26 NLT). When you are angry don’t deny it. Anger can be constructive. We are right to get angry when people are mistreated and wrongs are not made right. Saying, ‘I have been feeling angry and because I value our relationship I would like to talk about it,’ is honest, non threatening and invites resolution.

Observe:
• Ignoring, stifling, suppressing, or pretending you are not angry is basically dishonest.
• Another form of lying when you are angry is exaggeration. You never listen to what I say. You always ignore my wishes. Nobody does anything around here except me. Such generalizations are untrue and serve only to aggravate and polarize, guaranteeing the real problem gets obscured and goes unresolved.
• Another way to lie when you are angry is blaming. If you had arrived on time I wouldn’t have to nag you, of if you quit nagging so much, maybe I would start being on time. Blaming is a way of evading your own responsibility while pointing the finger at others, perpetuates your own anger and never produces the result you want. God’s way is, let each one of you speak truth and works when you do it in love.

Rule 2: Keep it non-lethal: Paul writes: In your anger do not sin (Ephesians 4:26 NIV). What do Paul’s words mean? Don not let your anger escalate to the point of doing damage. Do not use your words as a weapon or a control mechanism. It is okay to express your emotions in a healthy way, but keep them in check. Your goal must to be resolve the problem and strengthen the relationship, not ‘sound off’ and wound the other person. Is this easy to do? No. You will need a strong dose of grace to do it. Words spoken in jest, sarcasm, self-righteousness or ‘righteous indignation’ wound people, sometimes permanently. Perverseness of the tongue breaks the spirit (Proverbs 15:4 NKJV). A crushed spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14 NIV). The tongue can bring death (Proverbs 18:21 NLT). Angry words, once unleashed, can go down into a man’s inmost parts (Proverbs 26:22 NIV). Your words can live in the heart and memory of a person and all the way to the grave with them. We say, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,’ but it is not true. A person can die of a crush spirit, and the one who spoke the words can live to regret the damage they had inflicted and never get a chance to undo it. On the other hand, anger properly handled never needs to be repented of. So learn to differentiate between the anger you feel and the world you speak. Anger carefully thought through, can reveal important information about needed changes. Focus on that and ask God to show you what needs changing in the other person; and you!

Rule 3: Keep it current: Storing anger in your hard drive only hurts you. When you download old resentments you start to rehearse them and grow bitter. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45 NIV). When you are angry deal with it quickly. Do not passively allow time to decide your options, or sit around hoping the other person will see the light and apologise. If your brother sins against you, go to him (Matthew 18:15 NIV). Try to resolve it and restore the relationship. When you repress it you add one more skeleton to your closet. Sooner or later, doctor say, it will be at your stomach lining, attack your immune system, predispose you to heart problems, cancers and other physical, social and emotional disorders. Meantime, it will preoccupy you, dissipate your energy, cripple your creativity, hinder your fellowship with God, your friends and fellow believers; not to mention that it denies offender the opportunity to clear their conscience, repent and get right with God and you. Stop dragging up the past, trying to blackmail the guilty by hauling skeletons out of closets at auspicious moments, plotting revenge, and passing down resentment for the next generation to carry. Ask God for humility and courage to deal with today’s problems today. When your head hits the pillow tonight, know that your issues are current, up to date with God and everyone and sleep well.

Rule 4: Keep it in the laundry room: Do not treat each other with malice (Ephesians 4:31 NIV). When you are angry, spreading gossip is hard to resist. But malicious talk is like wildfire; it consumes those who spread it and those who listen to it. Don’t display your dirty wash; keep it in the laundry room.

Dirty laundry gets aired in two ways:
• Open embarrassment: You say it where you know others are going to hear it.
• Subtlety: You make jokes about their figure, family members and friends, etc., in order to belittle them. This results in embarrassment for the person you are angry at, widens the gap between you and makes reconciliation impossible. Solomon writes: ‘Love covereth all sins’ (Proverbs 10:12). Paul writes: ‘In malice be babes, but in understanding be mature’ (1 Corinthians 14:20 NKJV).

Rule 5: Be part of the clean up crew: We say, ‘They brought it on themselves. Let them get over it.’ They may have deserved it, but we can’t walk away and leave open wounds to become infected. We forgive, even as Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32). How did God forgive us? After we had acknowledged, confessed and repented of our sins? No, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (Roman 5:10). God took the initiative, so forgive, before the other person asks for forgiveness. And should they remain your enemy for life, forgive them anyhow. That is mopping up after the war. Only then are you yourself forgiven, the wound you inflicted healed and your record before God expunged.

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