Not Easily Angered

by Laura Courtney

What makes you angry? Is it waiting, rude or inconsiderate people, when someone else gets something you wanted or prayed for (especially when they don’t deserve to have it and you totally do)? Does it anger you when you are not recognized for the obviously good things you do? When you deserve the recognition or thanks that other receive?

I think its interesting that this characteristic is listed right in the middle of the description of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, and consequently the halfway point of our summer reading, because all the characteristics listed up to this point can often cause us to get angry.

Having to be patient – anger. Having to be kind or not receiving kindness from others – anger. Jealousy and comparing ourselves to others – anger. Pride leads to anger, dishonoring others is often a result of anger. If we are so focused and concerned about ourselves only we get angry when others do not share that same focus.

Controlling our anger is hard because it is so easy for this human emotion to be triggered by almost anything and everything around us. The devil knows how to get a rise out of us. He knows that in the heat of the moment, we make bad decisions and say hurtful things to those we love. He knows he can tear apart the deepest relationships if our anger is left unchecked. And in today’s tech-filled world, he doesn’t have to try hard to find ways to get under our skin. Social media is a place where everyone is posting as fast as they can type and where hateful and angry comments, which can be posted within seconds, are unable to ever be taken back.

But what happens when we get angry? As we read from this summer’s reading guide anger leads to bad decisions, unkind words, hurt relationships and in its worst moments even irreparable and negatively life-impacting actions. If this one single emotion can cause us to stray so far from God’s will and command for our lives, how can we call it a “natural” reaction? It has only become “natural” because we are so fallen and broken from the perfection we were created to be.

But what would happen if before we made any action in anger, we went to God with our anger? If we asked the One who calms the storms to calm our hearts and emotions? Satan knows that in our own power we will say and do hurtful things. And if we try to take power over our emotions on our own, we will fail (and most likely get angry about that too). But if we take a few moments to seek His power and ask Him to give peace to our hearts before we act or say even one single word, how loving of a place we could find our world in.

So… how have you acted in anger this week (because we all have)?

What made you angry – patience, pride, jealousy, selfishness?

 How can you better handle similar instances – that will almost undoubtedly arise again – instead of turning to anger first?

And looking ahead to this next week’s focus and characteristic of love, are there people you need to ask forgiveness of or give forgiveness to for anger expressed?

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20)

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