I just finished listening to a song in which the singer says, “I don’t know why you gotta be angry all the time.” The truth is, he could be saying those words to a whole lot of people, because the world seems to be running over with folks who seem to be upset about something every time you see or speak with them. They give the appearance of being angry all the time. If one is a child of God, that is not a good reputation for him or her to have, is it?
To be honest, I struggle with how I control my temperament and how I react to certain things which transpire in life, and I suspect that there may be at least a couple of you who do, too. While it is true that a great deal of the news that we hear through the media causes those who love the Lord to be disturbed, and while it is a fact that some humans are self-centered or shamelessly engage in immoral activities, and while it is true that some members of the Lord’s church do not serve Him with zeal and passion, it is not in my best interest or the best interest of our Lord’s Cause for you and me to be angry all the time. I do not want to be known as a mad-all-the-time person, do you?
Followers of Jesus are instructed to “put off” anger and wrath (Colossians 3:8). The type of anger and wrath which are forbidden were part of our pre-Christian life, “the old man with his deeds” (3:9). Oh, yes, Jesus reacted “with anger” due to men’s hard hearts (Mark 3:5), and being filled with anger (“righteous indignation”) over people’s sinful choices is appropriate. But, let us not try to excuse our mad-all-the-time disposition by hiding behind Jesus’ justified anger. That would be a misuse of what the Scriptures teach.
If I find myself getting angry quickly and often, I need to try and identify what it is that gets me so upset. I need to ask myself, “Why am I mad?” Again, I should ask, “Is it really worth it? Is it something that is of real significance, or is it a small, trivial matter?” How many times have I “lost it” initially, only to regret later in moments of more quiet and sober reflection that I was upset so hastily? There was no justifiable reason for being so angry in the first place, and I simply overreacted. Does that scenario sound familiar?
When I am angered, let me further inquire of self: How is this anger affecting me? What is it doing to how I speak to and treat others? How is it affecting my mindset for Bible study, prayer, and worship? What does my anger do to my influence on others?
Am I always pessimistic? Is my speech always negative, never having anything good to say about anyone or anything? Do I always see the bad side of things but never the good? Do I always have a sour look on my face? Do I give people the impression that I hate life and I am mad at the world?
Try this. Find something encouraging on which you can focus, at least for a little while. Find something that causes you to smile or laugh. It may take a special effort on your part, but keep seeking until you find it. Make contact with a faithful saint whose conversation or association helps you to stay positive and upbeat. Make a concentrated effort to find or do something that takes your mind off of what has you so upset.
Try this. When you feel yourself swelling up with anger inside you, take some deep breaths. Step away – step away from whatever it is that is making your blood boil. Give yourself ample time to think things through before you speak or take action. Better to think them over and proceed cautiously than to be rash and compulsive and say something inappropriate or do something stupid that you and others could regret greatly.
Try this. If you know that being around a certain person or being in a particular circumstance has a high probability of causing you to get extremely upset and so angered that you cannot seem to think straight and act properly, by all means, as much as possible, try to avoid such situations.
Try this. Reflect on your blessings. Count the number of material blessings that you enjoy – many have less. Count the number of functioning eyes, hands, and feet which you possess – some have less. Keep things in proper perspective.
Try this. Do your best to greet others with pleasant words and an upbeat disposition. Make a concentrated effort to smile more. Surely we can tell from observing others that a person’s facial expressions can influence how we approach them and what kind of impression they leave on us. If I always have a sour look on my face or my facial expressions constantly give others the impression that “something must be bothering him,” people are going to avoid me. As a Christian, is causing others to avoid me what I hope to accomplish? Surely not.
There is a time to weep (Ecclesiastes 3:4). There is also a time to demonstrate hatred of unrighteousness (Hebrews 1:9). Yet, neither these nor other biblical truths negate the instruction for all saints of God to practice self-control (Galatians 5:22,23) and “rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
The Bible still says, “. . . be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). As I reflect on those three statements, I am reminded of just how much work I personally have to do in how I respond to what goes on in life. Being a negative, angry-all-the-time person does not fit the character of a soldier of the King.
— Roger D. Campbell