Breaking the Anger Habit, Part 1

In the last series I wrote about my personal battle with anger. On a positive note, I pointed out that the passion which fuels anger can be harnessed for good as demonstrated in the lives of Christ’s disciples. But, uncontrolled, selfish anger is another matter. You must put it aside. Such a change in behavior requires you to stop reacting in anger and start responding in meekness to the people and circumstances that irritate you.

In this series, I’ll show you how to do that in a very practical way. You will be able to overcome anger as you identify your sin, yield to God and pursue meekness.

Identify Your Sin

  • What does God say about selfish anger?
  • Will I obey God in this area?

Anger nearly always takes a victim. Every time your temper flares, someone gets burned. Your child. Your spouse. Your employee. Yourself.

And that’s why Jesus compared anger to murder, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22).

These are hard words to accept. But the message is clear: When you wound someone out of anger, you are actually killing that person on the inside. Note the progression. The punishment grows increasingly harsh as basic anger evolves into scornful pride, spite, and finally, hatred.
That’s the hidden cost of anger. It evolves. It festers. And it spins a web around your heart (Ecclesiastes 7:9). Because unloading frustration feels so good to the flesh, it masquerades as your friend, but in reality, anger is your worst enemy.

Cease from anger and forsake wrath,” wrote the psalmist. Why? Because “it leads only to evildoing” (Psalms 37:8). Once you give anger an open door to your heart, it will muscle its way into every room of the house and cause trouble in every area of your life! It will pollute your thinking and every aspect of your character and personality. “Watch over your heart with all diligence,” the Word says, “for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Anger is lethal and you must recognize it as such. No matter how big or how little your anger problem is, you must overcome it before it overcomes you.

Obedience in this area is not an option, but a command from God. Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech from your mouth.”

John 14:15 says that if we truly love Jesus, we must keep His commandments. Uncontrolled, self-centered anger is a sin. Therefore, if you love Jesus, you must put anger aside. If you don’t, your love for Jesus isn’t love at all.

And how does a believer put anger aside? Start by identifying your sin.

  • Stop denying or rationalizing and justifying your anger—only then can you hear what God is saying to you about anger
  • Study what the Bible says about anger—its cost and its curses

Look closely at the verses that seem to jump off the page. Meditate on them in your prayer time. Write them on index cards and post them around the house to remind you of what God says about anger.

  • Saturate yourself with the Word of God until the scales fall off your eyes and the danger and ugliness of your behavior is clearly visible to you

You will hate what you see. The truth will disgust you, if not horrify you. But only then will you be motivated to deal with your anger.

Come back next week to read more from this classic teaching series