Confession time: I get really mad sometimes. Now I’m not talking about getting a little peeved now and then, or occasionally yelling into a pillow. I’m talking about those moments when you get so mad that you want to punch a wall, and where you can feel the steam coming out of your ears. This is not something that I’m proud of, and it’s something that I’m working on, and I hope that a few of you can relate to this struggle.
I’ve found that there are two main reasons why I get angry, and I want to unpack each one for you a little bit. The main one is that I didn’t start my day with the Lord. When I don’t intentionally take time in the morning to ensure that my heart is aligned with God’s heart, I find myself getting frustrated a lot more easily. Christ calls us to a life of love and peace not one of wrath and anger and challenges us to put away malicious thoughts, filling ourselves with Godly delight instead. And when I don’t begin my day by putting these intentions at the forefront of my mind, I tend to forget to put them into practice during the rest of the day.
The other reason I find myself falling into annoyance so quickly is that I am not living from a servant heart. Instead of seeing my actions as a way to love on others, I see them as a way to defend against a personal attack from those around me. For instance, if a room is left messy, it’s almost like that mess is meant to poke fun at me, and my mind takes that fallacy and runs with it. Now suddenly the blankets left on the couch aren’t just unfolded blankets, but instead, they’re mocking me (which when I write it sounds neurotic, but our brains do strange things when we don’t keep them in check). Instead of letting the mess fuel my anger, I try to let it fuel my love. When I think this was my inner dialogue goes from, “They made this mess, and they don’t care that I’m the one who always cleans it up” to “I’ll vacuum this floor because people can’t focus on their jobs and their devotions if there’s dirt everywhere.”
The Bible repeatedly says that we should be slow to anger, and should work to remove all anger and malicious thoughts, words, and deed from our lives (James 1:19-20, Ephesians 4:26, 31, and Colossians 3:8 just to name a few).
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
Colossians 3:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
God doesn’t want us to be angry at each other, because when we get mad at those around us, we aren’t showing them the love of Christ. How are we supposed to bring people into the kingdom if all they ever see is a bunch of angry Christians running around telling everyone how much God loves them, but never demonstrating that in their own lives? I know that sometimes it’s easier to get mad at someone than to show them, love, I totally understand because it happens to me too. But it’s in those moments that I have to choose to either let me emotions run my day or to release them to God. I don’t know how many times I day I call out to the Lord in my heart with a prayer as simple as, “Lord, please change my feelings. Erase this anger rising within me and replace it with your immeasurable love.” When we focus our hearts on God, we will be able to draw on his loving mercy and grace in moments when all we want to do is scream our heads off.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls”
James 1:19-21 English Standard Version (ESV)