Does your anger surprise you? Mine does. I’d never describe myself as an angry person, and yet…there are too many times when my first reaction is one of anger. Kids are the best at highlighting your flaws, aren’t they? Like the Sunday morning when everyone’s rushing around and you’re raising your voice at your secondborn who is flat-out disobeying you. Then you shut the door a little more firmly than usual and the same secondborn yells, “We do NOT slam doors!” And you think What in the world am I doing? And also, Sometimes we need to slam a door.
Maybe you’re not a parent yet, but you know the panicked feeling when you wake up late, only to realize you turned off your alarm rather than hitting snooze. Whether it’s a spouse, sibling, or roommate, the people around you get the brunt of your frustration as you scramble to get to work. (Not to mention the thousands of people who have no business driving to work at the same time as you.) By the time you get to the office, you’ve made so many mistakes, now you’re mad about that.
Maybe someone you care about said something extremely hurtful or forgot an important date or didn’t show up when they said they would. People hurt us and we take our pain out on someone else with clipped words and a short fuse.
Anger is so dangerous because it usually stems from an inward focus. But the Bible calls us to selflessness: to love God and seek Him first. Then, to care for others before we even consider ourselves. Often, outbursts of anger are more frequent when our thoughts are centered on ourselves. God knows this about you and me, which is why Scripture has so much to say about it. It warns us of it, encourages us to move away from it, and shows us there is another way.
Consider choosing one of the following Bible verses to memorize and recite when you feel angry:
James 1:19-20: “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.”
Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 14:29: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
Proverbs 29:22: “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.”
Romans 12:19-21: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Romans 8:25: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Psalm 103:8: “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Please forgive me for the anger I hold onto–whether it’s stewing inside me or exploding out of me. Thank you for always being patient and gracious towards me (Psalm 103:8). Help me to be more gentle, patient, and loving even when I’m mad. Bring your Words to my mind often so that I can be slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19). Help me to look more like you every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.