While anger is a familiar and universal experience, how it is accepted and expressed can create confusion, fear, and even regret. There are also positive ways to express and manage anger.
In this two-part series, I will begin with a focus on personal anger – yours and mine – and how we can manage this strong emotion in our lives.
How Well Do You Manager Anger? A Quiz
The following is a brief inventory on your view and use of anger:
- Do you recognize when you are angry?
- Do you find ways to express anger in careful and tactful ways?
- Do you avoid and suppress your anger?
- Are you “surprised” even embarrassed when you express anger?
- Do you use anger to control others to get what you want?
- Do you use anger as a way to punish others for upsetting you?
- Did you grow up with one or more angry parents or siblings?
- Are you known as an angry person?
- Are other careful to not upset you?
- Do you have regrets over how you have used anger?
What the Bible Says About Anger
Anger is mentioned throughout the Bible. Clearly, feeling angry is a universal emotion! Here are several examples from the Bible:
“In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26 – – NIV)
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19-NIV)
Jesus also grew angry. Often cited is a clear occasion in the Temple when Jesus got angry and turned over tables.
“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'” (Matthew 21:12-13 – – NIV)
A Biblical Reflection on Anger
Let’s pause and reflect on several things in this scripture.
- Jesus did not threaten, swear, hit anyone, or “zap” them like popcorn.
- Jesus wasn’t known as an angry person
- On a few occasions we read that He seems annoyed and brief with a few in leadership and influence, but even then, Jesus was calm, respectful and direct.
- But consistently, Jesus was a calm and expressive teacher to people.
- Jesus never exhibited regrets or made amends for His words and behavior.
Anger as Just Another Human Sense
As you can see from this reflection, anger doesn’t have to be “bad.” I often compare anger (and all emotions) with the basic senses of smell and taste. These organs positively connect us and capture our experience with the world. Think of the smell and taste of food for a moment.
Imagine the smell of pie, the taste of pizza or pasta, freshly picked vegetables, or the taste of a chocolate bar. Each of these can stir fond memories, and even trigger us to desire a slice of pie or a candy bar.
But let me extend our cravings a step further. The thing that makes pizza or bread so satisfying is the fact they contain the perfect balance of dry and liquid ingredients makes the biggest difference. So much or too little of flour, a flavor, or a spice can change our enjoyment of the bread.
The same is true with anger. How we add the ingredient of “anger” to our lives affects the outcome and “flavor” of our life and relationship. That is, too much anger can distract and overwhelm our message.
Jesus Called Us “the Salt of the Earth”
The above phrase from Matthew 5:13 is a clear reference to an ingredient in this world. We are to be salt! Not too much of a flavoring to others and too little. The same fits anger; not too much and, yes, not too little. But our salt/angry is to be used rightly, in a timely way, and in a balance proportioned way.
Instead we are to use words of anger, kindness, and love in good and favorable ways. Colossians 4:6 says this, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Help for Anger
How have you or people you know misuse the ingredient of anger? I work with many men and women who recognize that anger has been overused – with regrets and even destructively.
If help is needed I encourage people to identify when and how their anger overly salts or saturates a conversation. Once anger is identified, we can then learn constructive ways of dealing with it.
Christian counselor Dr. Douglas Frey believes in Biblical principles and bringing forth God’s grace in meetings and sessions. Call or email Douglas Frey Ph.D. (952-920-2789). He is a licensed Christian counselor serving individuals and families in Eden Prairie and nearby Chanhassen, Chaska, Shakopee, Minneapolis, Edina, Minnetonka and other Western Suburbs.