Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gentle Anger

A friend recently said it feels good to be angry; especially when defending oneself against true or false accusations. If it's true we get angry because we don't like that we were caught. If wronged we want to defend ourselves, set the record straight and put the accuser in their place. It feels good to achieve what we perceive to be justice; some go to great lengths to vindicate themselves, I know I have. Yet we're told not to vindicate ourselves, we can condemn an accusatory word or action but not vindicate. That action is reserved for God alone. So what and how am I to deal with anger?!

Anger is defined as indignant; wrath; enraged, sounds familiar to me. Paul quotes Psalms 4:4 to 'Be angry, and yet do not sin.' Easier said than done in my opinion, I'd rather not get angry. But it seems that whenever I tell my self not to do or say something the more I'm compelled to do so. Which could have been what Cain did before killing his brother Able. When Cain became angry God warned him that sin was crouching at his door, and its desire was for him, but that he must master it. Obviously he didn't but why? I wonder if he realized how dangerous and full of self-righteous lust his anger was. Lust is a fleshly desire that when governed by self defined right and wrong requires vindication, and can unleash wrath. The story of Cain and Able is an example of sin mastering anger's desire.

I don't want anger to master me! Sin is constantly crouching at my door waiting for an opportunity to entice my lusts of the flesh. So Lord what are some tools I can use to keep from falling into sinful anger? Let's see; Eccl 7:9 tells me "Do not be hasty/eager in my heart to be angry." I need to use caution and not be quick-tempered when my anger button is pushed. Okay that makes sense. James 1:19-20 warns me that if I'm quick to anger it's an indicator that some sort of "filthiness" remains in me. Ugh! 1 Jn reminds me if a lust has control then I haven't overcome loving doing things the worlds way. I must overcome by putting aside "anger, wrath, malice from my mouth" and "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and forbearance towards others." (Col 3:8-12) Really! That is so contrary to my nature when I'm angry! But it's not impossible for I'm told "I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength," which leaves me with no excuses.

Psalms and Proverbs speaks of being slow to anger and I as read these verses I notice some sound advice for how I can accomplish this. I must rule my spirit by exercising free will through submitting to God and resisting sins desire. Overlooking a transgression and having discretion helps me to overcome feeling good about being angry. Remaining composed, which requires practice, practice, practice, enables me to condemn judgemental words without vindicating myself. Then I can pacify contention through slow anger instead of stirring up hot tempered strife. Whew! I can master sin rather than it master me, imagine that!

So where does that leave me? Ah, here I am; "But he who is slow to anger has great understanding" (Prv 14:29). My desire becomes grace that turns to righteousness; resulting in sanctification and eternal life (Rom 6:19). My understanding leads to "A gentle answer that turns away wrath, not a harsh word that stirs up anger" (Prv 15:1). Rather than becoming a Cain I can be as Abigail who diffused David's hot-tempered anger. I suspect she became angry at her husband Nabel's rejection of David's request for supplies. But rather than rant and rave she gathered what David needed and met him, asking forgiveness, reminding him his anger would only diminish his standing with the people. Her words and actions humbled and impressed David thereby saving herself and servants from death. I like Abigail's example of how to avoid sinful anger by using a soft tongue that can be persuasive and pacify through gentle anger.

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