WORKBOOK - Chapter 7
DEALING WITH ANGER
There are two types of anger-sinful and righteous anger. We are made in the image of God, and so we are personal beings like He is. We have personalities that we develop and emotions like He has. He experiences love, mercy and compassion and also has standards of fairness. He experiences anger when His holy justice is violated. We experience to a small degree the same range of emotions. To understand ourselves, we really need to study the Bible and begin to understand God-who He is and what He expects from us. Then we begin to understand who made us and for what purpose and begin to grow more like Him. Jesus the God-man demonstrated righteous anger and how it is to be used when He drove the moneychangers out of God's house (Matthew 21:12-14). He used anger for a constructive purpose to confront and resolve wrongdoing. He did not let the sun go down on His anger (Ephesians 4:26-27).
As a young man made in God's image, I did not use my rightful anger in a constructive way but let the sun go down on it many times. In addition to that, I often did not have righteous anger but sinful anger. I was prideful. Whenever someone humiliated me or I felt I was unfairly treated, I became offended and resentful and built up a "pool" of anger within. I said to myself, "How dare she treat ME that way! I am a good person and have not done anything bad enough to deserve this! It's unfair. I don't like it!" I never resolved this anger. It just continued to grow and feed on itself inside of me. When something aggravated me I would curse and let a little of it out. When I was unmarried, there was no real focus for this anger. When a person marries, the spouse becomes a great "scapegoat" for unresolved anger. Rachel became mine.
In my counseling I find that most couples who have conflict and come to me for help have had premarital sex-committed fornication according to the Bible (I Corinthians 6:18). This has had devastating effects on their relationship. The woman loses her trust in her fiance/husband and begins to rebel against his wrong use of leadership. He feels guilty that he took advantage of her and begins to be angry with her and himself. The guilty tension and conflict begun in their courtship continues into their marriage and really begins to show up later in their sex life. The wife begins to feel her husband is only using her for his own pleasure and not because he really cares for her.
The romance begins to wear off, and disillusionment sets in. She becomes resistive or indifferent to his advances. He becomes frustrated and angry. Both become "cool" toward each other and begin to argue over trivial things.
As problems begin to build up and go unresolved in their marriage, the wife looks to her husband for leadership or at least some help. When her husband goes to deal with the situation, a little "voice" starts in his head: "You hypocrite." What right do you have to tell her what to do after what you have done?" He may not have these thoughts but only feels uneasy tension when attempting to exert leadership. Maybe his wife throws up to him things he has done in the past and he backs off. In any case, anger builds up in both of them-especially the husband. He may go out and get drunk to ease the angry tension. This gives him only temporary relief and then more guilt the next day. Or he may seek sympathetic female companionship-not realizing that it is only a matter of time until rebellion and guilty tension will destroy this relationship as well. He could suppress the anger but will eventually overreact to something trivial and make matters far worse. He also could develop a nasty temper and become a bully. Maybe this will shut her up and suppress all the problems. All of these sinful alternatives are the result of our fallen human nature we inherit from Adam and Eve, our parents. They are the fruit of our pride, selfishness and rebellion. The consequences are fearful, unhappy people trapped in miserable marriages. Fortunate are the ones who find a Christian counselor who will give them Biblical solutions to their problems and not the superficial and confused attempts at solutions that modern psychology gives. So many times psychology only makes the problems worse and such counseling leads to failed marriages and divorce.
A typical wrong way psychologists deal with anger is by encouraging focused ventilation. Rightly they see a person who is repressing anger, resentment and bitterness as needing to get rid of it. So the psychologist leads his client to ventilate in safe ways such as pounding a pillow and calling out the name of the person he hates. This may give temporary relief but continues to encourage rage in the long run. Rage is like a muscle, the more you exercise it the more it grows.
The Christian way is one of honesty. A person needs to be honest with God and admit that his resentment and bitterness are sins that he can no longer harbor. With God's help he can constructively confront a problem, forgive and forget. The angry feelings have to be released to God so that He can take them away. He can deal with the offender while the sinner must be learning to love his enemies and those who mistreat him (Matthew 5:1-12).
I was one of those husbands trapped by my own sinful anger, and my marriage was miserable. I was tempted many times to take the easy way out by using false repentance-wanting only quick relief and not real change. I would ask Rachel's forgiveness for my angry actions, hoping that she would be nice to me and all the problems would go away. Then I would not have to work at making real changes and allowing God to change me. This of course only made matters worse because Rachel became skeptical of my overtures and became even more disillusioned with me. The Lord began to show me I needed to truly repent of my sinful anger by seeing how much this hurt Him and grieved Him-not just Rachel. I needed to look not just for quick, selfish relief from the situation by manipulating others, but I had to allow Him to give me true godly sorrow for my foolishness. I needed a real desire to change my ways and bring pleasure to Him, not myself. I needed to forgive Rachel for all her criticism and accusations. I needed to let go of all my resentment and bitterness I had stored up over the years. I needed to humble myself by God's grace and appreciate Rachel for trying to help me become the man God wanted me to be. I began to see that her anger and frustration were the results of my own incompetence as a husband.
I needed to take responsibility for my own sin and not try to blame it on her. I needed to truly repent before God and ask His forgiveness for making such a mess of my marriage and home. I needed to humble myself and let go of my sinful anger and substitute righteous habit patterns. When things went wrong in the home, I needed to resolve it and not use sinful anger that made matters worse. I had to stop attacking others and not the problem. I needed to learn to walk in the spirit and control myself under the Lord's leadership. Then the problems in my home would be solved as we all learned God's wisdom in dealing with them, using Biblical solutions.
God's righteous anger: (Reaction of
a holy God against sinful people and evil in all forms)
Deuteronomy 9:7 ". . . thou provoked the Lord thy God to wrath . . . ."
Romans 1:18 "For the wrath of God is revealed . . . against all ungodliness . . .of men . . ."
Ephesians 5:6 ". . . the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."
Man's justifiable anger: (Reaction to evil)
I Samuel 20:34 Jonathan's fierce anger over his father's shameful treatment of David.
Proverbs 16:32 "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his own spirit than he who takes a city" (AB).
Mark 3:5 (Jesus our example, as perfect man, as well as being God) "And He (Jesus) glanced around at them (the Pharisees) with vexation and anger, grieved at the hardening of their hearts . . ." (AB).
Man's sinful anger:
Galatians 5:19-20 "Now the doings (practices) of the flesh (fallen human nature) are clear . . . enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions) . . ." (AB).
II Corinthians 12:20 "For I (Paul) am fearful lest . . . perhaps there may be factions (quarreling), jealousy, temper (wrath, intrigues, rivalry, divided loyalties), selfishness, whispering, gossip, arrogance (self-assertion) and disorder among you" (AB).
Proverbs 29:22-23 "A man of wrath stirs up strife, and a man given to (controlled by) anger commits and causes much transgression. A man's pride will bring him low, but he who is of a humble spirit shall obtain honor" (AB).
Psalms 34:14, 18 "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit" (KJV).
Acts 3:19 "Repent ye therefore. and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out . . . ."
Matthew 23:3-5; Acts 1:16, 18 Judas was sorry he had disgraced himself and wept bitter self-reproachful tears, had a pity party and committed suicide. He was not sorry he broke God's law nor did he determine to change his ways. He only wanted relief.
Did my spouse and I have sex before we married?
Have I repented to God for this and asked my spouse's forgiveness?
Do I have a lot of unresolved anger toward my spouse?
Has my mate taken his anger out on me instead of dealing constructively with the problems?
Have I forgiven him and forgotten it or do I still remember and hurt over it?
Do I use my anger in a constructive way to deal with problems before the day is over, or do I put off dealing with the situation and take my anger out on my mate personally?
Have I truly repented of my sins, been sorry I hurt God, and changed my ways?
Have I superficially repented of my sins because I got caught and wanted just relief or escape from the disgrace of the situation?
Preface, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,
Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 5: 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.