May 30, 2016

When I'm Feeling Angry

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the LORD.”  Psalm 4:4 (NLT)

Anger.  We’ve all felt it.  Is anger a sin?  Notice in this Psalm that he doesn’t say it’s a sin to be angry, rather, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you…”  If anger controls you, it will lead you to sin like it did Cain.  Cain was jealous of his brother, Abel, and became very angry.  In Genesis 4:6-7 God speaks to Cain.     

“Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected?  You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” 

Despite that warning, anger got the best of Cain and, in a fit of rage, he killed his own brother. Out-of-control anger destroys lives.

So, how can we keep our anger under control?  Psalm 4:4 offers four ways to manage my anger.

1.  “Think about it overnight . . . .”

The apostle Paul quotes this Psalm in Ephesians 4:26-27 and says, “And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”  If we allow what provoked our anger to fester, it will become out of control and result in rage, giving the devil a foothold in our lives.  Satan desires a foothold so that he may develop a stronghold over our emotions. Paul advises that the emotional trigger be dealt with quickly, before you go to bed at night.  If you let it go in prayer, you are able to think about the issues or actions that triggered your anger better. Another translation puts this Psalm like this: “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Selah” When you are alone on your bed at night, you are able to search your heart and to think with better clarity, seeking God’s wisdom in responding.

2.  “ . . . and remain silent.”

Explosive anger is unproductive and often leads to verbal outbursts we later regret.  Take a step back and remain silent until you can speak the truth in love.

3.  “Offer sacrifices in the right spirit . . . ”

It’s a sacrifice to offer a right spirit when you’re angry. David speaks to our motives when we’re angry.  Are the intentions of our heart aligned with God’s heart?  Rather than reacting in anger, use your anger for constructive change.  Respond in a right spirit.

4. “ . . . and trust the LORD.”

The only way to effectively release your anger, search your heart, and respond in the right spirit is by trusting in God.  You may not be able to control how you feel, but you can give your feelings to God’s care and control and trust Him to direct you.