What has the power to turn normal human beings, who on most days are good, into people that shut down, lash out or explode with rage? Our emotions.
Although a gift from God, there are times, circumstances and places that can bring out destructive emotions. Many of us have experienced how anger, in particular, has tremendous power to hurt our relationships. And others of us don’t even realize when we’re angry – which is equally damaging!
So what exactly is anger? Anger is a neutral emotion, neither “good” nor “bad.” Anger is a God-given emotionally charged response in order to protect someone or something.
So… when is it OK to feel angry?
Sometimes anger serves to motivate us to make necessary course corrections and address attitudes or injustices that we perceive to be wrong. I’d even say that many of us are not angry enough over the stuff that we should be angry about! I believe that a lot of positive change can happen in our lives, and in our world, if we allow our anger to help motivate us instead of overtake us.
Jesus’ half-brother, James, understood that anger was a normal emotion. But, if not properly controlled, anger has the potential to cause harm to others.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
The Bible is also clear that while it’s OK to get angry, it’s not OK to let it run rampant in your life. “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.” (Eph. 4:26)
Anger — if left unchecked – can have destructive consequences. It’s especially good at ruining relationships. One of the ways to prevent this is to understand how we express our anger.
See if you recognize yourself (or someone you know) in these anger types:
- Spewers – Have a volatile temper and tend to explode like a bomb. They are usually unable to control or explain their anger.
- Stuffers – Believe all anger is wrong and go to great lengths to bury, minimize and avoid their anger. Some of them don’t even know how to recognize their own anger.
- Leakers – Exhibit classic “passive-aggressive” tendencies, often expressed as critical and sarcastic remarks. Leakers have the same beliefs as stuffers, except Leakers try to punish the person who made them angry.
The good news is, whether you’re a Spewer, Stuffer, Leaker, or even a bit of all of these, there is a way to gain control of your feelings.
This week, we begin the series Overcoming Emotions that Destroy. In it, we’ll examine God’s purpose for anger and explore some specific techniques to deal with this powerful emotion in a positive way. With God’s grace, let’s journey together to discover ways to use our anger for His glory and for our good.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip