Get rid of all bitterness and rage, and anger and shouting, and cursing and any kind of evil. Be kind and compassionate to one another, showing grace to each other, just as in Christ God showed grace to you.
So, how do we take control of our anger?
For starters, let’s realize that anger does not control us. We like to say, “You make me so angry,” but no one makes us angry. We choose to become angry because of our own pride or impatience or selfishness.
Secondly, be careful about the environment you choose. Have you ever watched other groups of people and noticed how they tend to adopt similar habits of behaving? Though it is much easier to notice in other people, we all do the same thing. That is why Proverbs 22 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man. Do not associate with someone who is easily angered, or you might learn his ways.”
Third, don’t resort to cheap fixes. Find the source.
Let’s suppose my house reeks from rotting garbage. What can I do? I could open a window and let in some fresh air. Good idea, right? And what would that do? Besides being unpleasant to my neighbors it would only lesson the stench temporarily.
There is another way to relieve the disgusting smell. Get rid of the garbage!
The Bible tells us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” God’s Word isn’t telling us to open a window, but to get rid of the garbage.
We are to replace anger with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
That’s great, but how? The apostle Paul continues, by “showing grace to each other just as, in Christ, God showed grace to you.”
That’s the key. If we are bitter it is because we haven’t dealt with our own guilt. Let God forgive you. He’s not mad at you. He has taken all his anger for the injustice of our sin on Jesus. People who have accepted this kind of love from God are well on their way to laying down their anger.
Years ago, a pastor told us about visiting one of his members. As she recounted a grievance about someone from years ago, the pastor expressed surprise that she could even remember all the details that happened so many years ago.
She explained, “Oh, I keep a book. Every time someone hurts me, I write it all down.”
The pastor then learned she had been keeping a record of grievances for 25 years. After patiently explaining the beauty of our forgiveness by Christ, he told her she needed to take her book and immediately throw it in the fireplace.
She paused. Then, with a sigh, her precious book was turned to ash.
They prayed. And then she smiled, because she knew she was free.
(copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)