4 Crucial Steps to Overcoming Anger
Carlos Grisales - Assimilation Pastor
Even after we are saved, we all continue to struggle with different sin bends — some are very apparent and easily spotted, while others are more subtle and difficult for us to see. Even after placing Jesus on the throne of my life, I continue to struggle against the flesh. For me, anger is one of the sins that I’ve struggled with that the Lord has been working on in my life. I believe it’s because at times, I am more interested in sharing the throne with Jesus rather than letting him have all of it. And in those moments that I want to have my share of the throne, I can be easily deceived and quickly led into expressing my anger to those around me, especially those I love the most.
The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man”, so I can be confident that I am not the only one who struggles with anger. All of us struggle with it to some degree. It is my hope and prayer that this article will help you identify this sinful behavior in your life so that you can begin to take steps towards not just controlling your anger, but overcoming it!
Coming to Terms with the Anger in My Heart
There is no point in us taking practical steps to overcome our sinful anger, or any sinful behavior for that matter, if we are not willing to truly and humbly recognize this is a heart issue. If left unchecked, it can greatly affect not just us, but also those around us. Whether it is outwardly explosive or inwardly implosive; whether it happens often or every once in a great while — anger is a reality in our lives and as the children of God we are called to put it off. Thankfully, our gracious God in, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3) So we can be confident that instead of avoiding or controlling our anger, we can have true victory!
You might be reading this and think, “Well, I do get annoyed every once in a great while, but I wouldn’t call it an ‘anger’ issue.” If this is you, there are a couple things I would like for you to consider. First, just because you are not punching holes in the wall, slamming doors, screaming, or using words that are not very godly, does not mean that you do not struggle with anger. Being “annoyed” is just a nicer way of saying, “I’m angry.” Second, let’s bring to mind the words of Jesus after his Sermon on the Mount, “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matt. 5:22). Jesus took anger — and not just the expression of it but the heart behind it — very seriously, and so should we.
With that being said, let’s go to God’s Word for some wisdom on how to deal with our sinful anger — here are four things we must do:
#1 — Get Vertical and Repent
Once we have admitted that this heart issue exists in us, we need to get vertical right away. We understand that whenever we sin, we are first and foremost sinning against God, and our repentance needs to start there. King David knew this. After being confronted by the prophet Nathan about his affair with Bathsheba, he modeled for us the right posture for repentance. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Ps. 51:4). David knew that before sinning against anyone else, he had sinned against God, and his repentance needed to start with Him first.
When we humbly confess our sinful anger to God and repent for our selfishness, He promises that we will be met with His grace. “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Js. 4:6). I would much rather be on the receiving end of God’s grace in this verse, than armwrestling Him as He opposes us in our pride.
#2 — Go To Those You’ve Hurt
When our repentance is sincere before God, He gives us the grace not only to overcome sinful anger, but also to humbly go to those we have hurt in the process and seek their forgiveness. We have to recognize and acknowledge the pain that we are causing to those we lash out in anger and do everything possible to pursue restoration with that person. This is the only option for followers of Christ.
In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul sets a tone of urgency when it comes to restoration in relationships affected by anger. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26). To not let the sun go down on your anger is pretty self explanatory. It means that before you fall asleep, you need to own your sinful anger and seek forgiveness from that person. Why is this important? Let’s keep reading, “…and give no opportunity to the devil.” (v. 27). The NIV translates it, “…and do not give the devil a foothold,” which is a great description of what happens when we let the sun go down on our anger. I have put this verse to the test a few times — meaning, I have let the sun go down on my anger. And let me tell you, every time it has turned out exactly the way God’s Word said it would… shocker! It is so much more difficult for me to ask for forgiveness the morning after than it would have been the night of.
#3 - Be Accountable to Others
I would love to tell you that once you are done reading this blog you will be an expert in handling and overcoming your anger flawlessly, but that is not the case. This will be a long road for all of us, but it’s a road that is not meant to be walked alone! Surround yourself with brothers or sisters in Christ who are willing to hold you accountable to your desire to put it off. People who are willing to encourage you when you stumble. People who will pray for you as you seek to glorify God in this fight against sinful anger. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (Js. 5:16).
#4 - Keep Your Eyes On The Cross
We have to remember that we have been loved with a perfect love by our heavenly Father, who had every reason to release the full weight of His wrath on us, but yet chose to love us. Let us look to the empty tomb and rejoice, for we know that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, went to the cross on our behalf to satisfy the wrath of God, so you and I could have eternal life with him!
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for
our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5