Contemporary life is full of pressure. We all face a multitude of decisions, responsibilities, and distractions on any given day.
Bills, traffic, technology breakdowns … it’s a bit much, even without added crises.
If you’re like me, you might give in to the occasional temper tantrum. Maybe you’re restrained enough not to actually break anything or hurt anyone, but your countenance, your body language, your tone are … well, not exactly fun to be around.
When I give in to rage and allow myself to fuss and fume at my computer, or the driver who cut me off, or even God, I am caving in to my selfish human nature.
I’m saying yes to entitlement. I’m agreeing with the lie that it’s all about me.
But it’s not about me, and I want to stay out of Angry Land, so I’ll have to be proactive.
Can you relate to these?
- When I feel stressed, I tend to be irritable and impatient. Yet James 1:19,20 says, “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
- When haven’t been checking in with God, I get frustrated. Proverbs 19:3 says, “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.”
- When I get angry, it can take me a while to deal with it, and it can become sinful. But Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
These verses give me great hope. According to God’s Word, we can be a good listeners with long fuses. We can avoid needless frustration by staying close to God.
We can avoid sinful anger by evaluating our attitudes and dealing with offenses before the day is over.
But how do we get there?
I find it helpful to check in with my soul. Many times we get so busy and over-committed our souls are smothering under the weight of pressures and expectations.
In Soul Keeping, John Ortberg suggests we ask ourselves like the Psalmist did, “Why are you so downcast, oh my soul?”
This is not self-talk; it’s “soul-talk.”
Self-talk sounds like, “What’s wrong with you, you big dummy?” and makes us feel worse. Soul-talk asks an honest, gentle question and turns naturally into prayer.
Next time you are tempted to lose it over a silly computer glitch, or lower yourself to road rage, do these three things:
- Ask your soul, “What’s really going on here?” Listen and find out. Maybe you are hungry, sleep-deprived, or Sabbath-deprived. Or a relationship needs repair.
- Repent. By God’s grace, say no to rage. Learn to take care of yourself to avoid triggering it. Repentance is a change in thinking which causes a change in behavior.
- Ask God to help you keep your spirit in check. Self-restraint is an ongoing challenge, and we need God’s help daily.
Proverbs 16:32 says, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
In Bible times, kings were always running around capturing enemy cities, and warriors were heroes.
Want to one-up the power of athletes, soldiers, and kings?
Be slow to anger, and rule your own spirit well.
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