"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Anger: Every Man’s Other Battle

Lust is often called every man's battle, and for good reasons. Wired with strong responses to the presence of the opposite sex, most men struggle with their thought life and behaviors in this area. No wonder this is the squeakiest wheel in our parade.

However, there is another battle that wages against us. It threatens to divide our churches, our friendships, our families and our marriages. We can even be at odds with ourselves, waging war against our own failures, refusing to forgive ourselves, withholding the grace we would gladly offer to others. This battle is to manage the force of anger that surges within us.

This post is not intended to slight the female readers. They may relate to it very well. They may also glean some insight into the inner workings of the men in their lives. Why am I considering this as an issue men may struggle with more than women might? I believe men reflect that part of God’s nature carrying his propensity for wrath, jealousy, power, might and anger. Men carry an inner warrior who is ready to rise up and destroy. It is a kind of default mode that most men go to when feeling threatened or vulnerable. It may come across in normal circumstances as grumpiness, abruptness, or coldness. Under enough stress, uncharacteristic anger and even rage may emerge. Some have suggested that there may be some kind of a decision (conscious or unconscious) that takes place in his mind. He begins to feel weak or vulnerable, so the inner warrior rises up to greater or lesser degrees. He looks angry. He feels powerful. The weakness is hidden behind the curtain. The mighty Oz thunders and postures, and the little man behind the curtain hopes desperately that nobody will notice.

Ephesians 4 echoes Psalm 4, “In your anger, do not sin.” The anger itself is not the sin, but what we do with it might be. Psalm 4 elaborates, “ …on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.” I think that anger is like the temperature gauge on my dashboard. When I am feeling it, I need to pull over and look under the hood. I need to “search my heart and be silent.” A heart check is in order. A heart check might include such questions as: Why am I really angry? Is it anger or something else (fear, sadness, sorrow, fatigue, jealousy)? Is it selfish or Godly (about me or the Kingdom)? Can I make a reasonable request that would remedy the situation? Can I make changes on my part that would help or remedy the problem? Can I let it go? Would Jesus want me to? Is my anger driven by my own unreasonable expectations? Can I alter these? Asking the Spirit to shine a light into the dark corners of our hearts is not a painless process, but the rewards are worth the discomfort. While I am sorting it out, silence is a great policy. Slow to speak and slow to anger…sounds familiar.

In the next chapter (Ephesians 5), Paul transitions from this discussion to the treatise on marriage (love and respect) with this covering statement: “ Honor one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:21). I often use this verse, with a visual of Jesus looking over the shoulder of a challenging person, watching to see if my response to them will honor (or dishonor) Him.

The ones who love Him are the ones who keep his commands. What is his command? Love one another.

“In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search you hearts and be silent.” Psalm 4:4

“My dear brothers, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20

“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27

"A new command I give you: Love one another." John 13:34