Handling Anger in a Godly Way

Christian approaches to anger

Excerpted with permission from "The Other Side of Love: Handling Anger in a Godly Way."

Is anger a sin?

As simple as this may sound, some Christians have difficulty with anger.All their lifetime they have been taught that anger is sin. Thus, to admit thatthey are angry is to admit that they are sinning. But this is not abiblical perspective on anger...the experience of anger is not sinful. Itis a part of our humanity and reflects the anger experienced by God Himself. Paul stated it clearly when he said, "In your anger do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26). The challenge is not "Don't get angry," but the challenge is not to sin when we are angry.

How Jesus handled anger

On one occasion, Jesus began to teach His disciples that He was going tosuffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests, and thatHe would be killed, and after three days He would rise again. TheScriptures record the reaction of one disciple: "Peter took him aside andbegan to rebuke him" (Mark 8:32). Why did Peter rebuke Jesus? Because inhis mind, what Jesus was saying was wrong.

This is not the way youestablish a kingdom. And certainly my master is not going to be killed

.Perhaps Peter thought Jesus was depressed, but he certainly didn't agreewith what Jesus was saying, so he privately rebuked Him.

In response, "Jesus turned and looked at his disciples." Then "he rebukedPeter. 'Get behind me, Satan!' he said. 'You do not have in mind the thingsof God, but the things of men'" (Mark 8:33). Jesus knew that Petermisunderstood reality; that in fact he was speaking the words of Satan. Inbrief, Peter was wrong, and Jesus clearly confronted him with his wrong. Onanother occasion, Jesus rebuked James and John for their hostile attitudetoward the unbelieving Samaritans. They suggested, "'Lord, do you want usto call fire down from heaven to destroy them?' But Jesus turned andrebuked them, and they went to another village" (Luke 9:54-56). Clearly,their attitude was wrong, and Jesus brought the matter to their attention.

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Rebuke is not verbal abuse. Rebuke is laying a matter before a brother whomyou perceive to have wronged you. Such a rebuke needs to be done kindly andfirmly, recognizing that there is always a possibility that we havemisunderstood the brother's words or actions as Peter misunderstood thewords of Jesus regarding the Savior's approaching death. I often suggestthat people write their rebuke before trying to speak it. It may gosomething like this: "I've got something that has been bothering me. Infact, I guess I would have to say I'm feeling angry. Perhaps I ammisunderstanding the situation, but when you have an opportunity, I'd liketo talk with you about it."

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