How can Jesus help me with my anger management issues?

Asked by Beth

I have a bit of an anger managment problem, how do I get over it? And how can Jesus help me with it?


Hi Beth,

There is so much to say and consider in such a short space.

To begin with, we have to accept that anger is a normal emotion. It is one of the emotions we bear as being created the image of our Creator. Indeed even God himself gets angry!

Anger comes about because we are hurt or let down (either deliberately or not). God gets angry with Israel because they keep on forgetting him and doing the things he has told them not to do or not doing the things he wants them to do. He is angry with us because we have failed to treat him as God in our lives (that by the way is what sin is about).

The problem with our anger in general is that we react to it in ways that are not helpful or way out of proportion to the hurt felt. In this way anger can disrupt and destroy relationships that are important to us. In the heat of the moment we want to be proved right or may even want to inflict hurt. We will say and do things that we regret later on. I imagine that I am not saying anything that you do not already understand.

So the issue with anger is not so much that you get angry but why and what to do about it. Understanding why will help help you work out how to deal with it.

I think here the example of Jesus is most helpful.

God always uses his anger to bring about his good purposes. Unlike us, he does not let this anger overcome him so that he loses control. Rather he works patiently through history to bring about his plans. What drives him is not his anger but a far more potent and powerful emotion - love. Paul writes this:

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:6-11

Let me unpack this a little. Paul is saying that while we were God’s enemies, rebelling against him and making him angry, God acted by sending his son to die in our place. He acted not out of his anger (which he has every right to be) but out of his love to bring forgiveness.

To me the two key element here are love and forgiveness. The christian experience of God’s overwhelming love leads us in turn to love others. In the same way the christian experience of God’s forgiveness leads us to forgive others. Neither of these things is easy, especially in the midst of anger but they are what we are to aim for.

In Mark 11:25, we read of the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness is described as being necessarily present before we can know the forgiveness of God for our sins. Matthew 5: 21-26, covers anger, forgiveness and reconciliation. As Jesus clearly teaches, we should always try to make ammends with people that we have fallen out of friendship with. It may not always be the case that others are prepared to forgive us when we have wronged them, but the act of expressing our remorse to them is essential. Through this act we are communicating our own desire for peace with the other person, as well as God’s requirement towards everyone of love and forgiveness.

Forgiveness is often a process. Even if we may still feel anger towards the one who has hurt us, and the effects of the damage - (emotional pain and other problems), are still with us, we can still be in an attitude of forgiveness to that person. We are effectively controlling our anger and inviting God to deal with it. Rather than the anger turning bad, and causing hate, we acknowledge it, state forgiveness and refuse through sheer will to engage in thoughts of bitterness, revenge or hate. A feeling of complete forgiveness may take a significant amount of time and effort to reach but it is worth it in the end.

Forgiveness is not just an declaration or a feeling, it is also an action. Forgiveness does not mean that we sweep the hurt under the carpet as if it never happened. Forgiveness and love for the other may mean we need to deal with the hurt and the circumstances that brought it about. But it is now done in the light of bringing about reconciliation and doing good for the other (e.g. helping them to recognise and change a wrong behaviour). After all God did not simply sweep our sin under the carpet and forget it, he acted by sending his Son to take the punishment we deserve.

Now I have said before that none of this is easy as I am sure you are aware. So God is there to help. He knows what it is like to be human (after all Jesus lived as a human) and he is willing to help. So turn to him and ask for help. When you are angry try to simply direct a thought at him - “Help me not lose control but act in love and forgive.” It would be good to find other christian people who you trust that you can confide in and talk about these things with. They can pray for you and with you.

But most importantly you need to ask yourself have you experienced the love and forgiveness of God yourself? I have no idea if you are a Christian or if you know of God’s love for you and his overwhelming gift of forgiveness. A christian’s love for others stems from God’s love for us and a christian’s ability to forgive others stems from the fact that we have already been forgiven by God himself.

If you do not know this love and forgivness than this is where you need to start. Open a bible and start reading Mark’s gospel and ask yourself “Who do you think Jesus is?”. You can also look at http://www.christianity.net.au/god to get an overview of what a Christian is. And, of course, you can continue to ask us questions.

Hope this helps

David

 

Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au

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