I have been thinking alot about choices and the importance of them lately. One choice that I find is hard for me to control many times is the choice to react in an angry or sarcastic way. I am sure I am not the only one who struggles with this so I thought I would dig in the Bible and see what is says about being angry and how to deal with it.

One of the first “stories” that comes to mind surrounding the subject of anger is that of Cain and Abel. Genesis 4 contains the story of the two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain gets angry because God accepted Abel’s offering but found his unacceptable. Cain made the choice to become jealous and angry. In verse 7 God gives Cain a warning,

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

But Cain ignores the warning and the sin of anger and jealousy take over and drive him to murder his brother Abel. Thus having to suffer the consequences that follow from God.

So what does this example tell us about anger? Anger that is out of control or uncalled for is sin. If you do not master this sin, it will over take you.

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.(Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV)

Paul made it clear in this verse, do not let anger fester and take hold. Get it resolved before the sun goes down. Why? If you don’t you are giving Satan a foothold on your life and look what he did with a foothold on Cain’s life. With this kind of access to your life, Satan can render you useless for God’s plan.

Remember you make the choice to be angry or jealous, it is not something that is forced on you.

So what advice does God’s Word give for us who struggle with this area of our lives.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31, NIV)

Well, this comment from Paul in a letter to the Ephesians seems to be pretty clear. We need to clean up our lives. I think any good Jesus Follower knows they need to do this but it comes down to the “how” of doing it.

Well Paul goes on to address this in his letter.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.(Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

The best solution to anger and bitterness is the opposite, grace and mercy. Not showing grace and mercy goes against what Jesus taught.

Check out Matthew 18:21-34. Jesus shares a parable that talks about how God feels about people who accept God’s grace and mercy but do not turn around and share it with others.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

Two important points come out of this parable. First, this kind of hypocrisy is just wrong. If you call yourself a Jesus-follower and do not turn around and share with others the grace and mercy that has been shown you, shame on you. God obviously does not like that kind of Jesus-follower.

Secondly, this is a good example of justifiable anger on the part of the King. God has every right to be angry with us if we do this. The expectation of a Jesus-follower is that he/she will be a reflection of the Glory of the Father to the world that needs to see Him so badly. In this parable, I believe Jesus speaks very clearly against hypocrisy of this kind and it is obvious by the last paragraph that this makes God very angry and for good reason.

Gaurd against anger and bitterness by showing grace and mercy.

God’s Word also gives us this piece of advice from the book of James.

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20, NIV)

I love how James makes things so clear. Three points in one short sentance.
1. Be quick to listen
2. Slow to Speak
3. Slow to become angry

Why did he give this advice in the first chapter of his book. Because I am sure he knew this was a difficult thing to do. But doing this communicates important things to the people you interact with.
1. Respect
2. Interest in honestly understanding them
3. Openness to what they are saying

Also, as the last part of the verse says, if do not listen, constantly try to get your point across, and are angry a lot it will hinder the righteous life that God desires.

Remember to listen more than talking. After all, God gave you two ears and only one mouth.

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