Source: Sherman Publications

Spiritual matters
Turn to God to help you diffuse anger

May 25, 2011

Several years ago my wife and I were driving down Square Lake road. We were going to visit somebody in the hospital.

The two lanes were being squeezed into one, and the traffic was backed up almost a mile. Everybody was cooperating and going single file when I looked in my review mirror and saw a guy flying alongside of us expecting to cut in at the last second.

All of a sudden he boldly started to cut in on me, and I had to pull over and stop or he would have hit me!

Immediately I flushed with anger. I was hot! So I didn't slow down. I played chicken with him! I had a big van. He had a little sports car. I'm in the right; he's in the wrong. I'll show him!

All of a sudden he violently pulled in broadside, rolled down his window, screamed at me and gave me the finger! (And it wasn't his little finger either!)

I admit that I had the impulse to jump out of my car and pound that guy's head in! But then I had visions of me sitting in jail and all of my parishioners writing letters to me.

I realized, "This is silly and stupid. Just let it pass!" And within three minutes we were past the traffic jam and on our way.

Anger. We all experience it. Anger can make an otherwise rational person do crazy things.

That experience made me go home and search the Bible regarding anger. Here's what I learned:

1) Anger is dangerous. "A hot-tempered man starts fights and gets into all kinds of trouble." (Proverbs 29:22)

2) Anger is a symptom of a deeper problem. "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." (Proverbs 19:11)

If you're always getting ticked off; if you're always blaming people for "making you mad," you then you're not wise. You just don't get it. The more you understand your kids, the less you get angry at them. The more you understand your husband/wife, the less you get angry at them.

Anger is never really the root problem in your life. It's a symptom, a warning light. It tells you something is wrong. Anger usually signals that you're hurt, you're fearful, or you're frustrated.

3)It's ok to be angry…just express it in healthy ways. It's ok to be angry. But it's critical we express our anger in the right ways. We tend to clam up or blow up.

God says, "Grow up."

"If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-27

God promises us his grace to change. We don't have to live with grudges and ulcers that eat our lives away. Freedom, forgiveness, and wholeness are ours in Christ.

The Rev. Greg Henneman is pastor of Clarkston Community Church.