DEALING WITH ANGER

Scripture Reading: I Samuel 18:6-11

“And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, ‘I will pin David to the wall.’ But David evaded him twice. Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand.” (I Samuel 18:11-13)

We all deal with anger. Most often my anger is sinful anger that expresses itself in my actions. On occasion I will blow up like Saul did with David. (Fortunately I have never tried to kill anyone!) But I have become defensive, argumentative, and mean-spirited. At other times I have internalized my anger and become bitter. This is when I start pouting!

As we attempt to deal with our anger in healthy ways, we must remember what Jesus said about anger — “Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:22,23). These are strong words of warning. Sinful anger is a serious offense against God and must not be taken lightly.

So how do we deal with anger? The first thing is that we must put off our old self and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24). Sinful anger is a product of the old self, our selfish, sinful flesh. We must recognize it as such and confess it as sin.

Once we have done this, we can make right choices — “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31;32). We can choose to let go of the anger and bitterness, and instead become kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. This is our choice. However, we will not make such a choice as long as we are acting out of our old self.

The key to making the right choice is found in a life controlled by the Spirit of God. When we yield to the Spirit rather than yielding to our selfish, sinful nature, we will be filled with the Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit, we will experience the fruit of the Spirit — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22,23).

It is only when I yield to the Spirit that I am capable of making the choice to let go of my sinful anger and to act in a loving and forgiving way toward others. Remember that the Spirit had departed Saul. He was acting out his sinful nature. Fortunately the Spirit never leaves us. He is always there and when we choose to yield to Him, we can overcome anger and bitterness by His power.

Spirit of the living God, I know that You are present in me. Forgive me when I fail to yield to You. Forgive me when I do not submit to Your will and when I fail to seek Your power in my life. Forgive me of my sinful anger that is the result of my failing to draw off Your presence and power. Fill me fresh this day and produce that inward fruit that enables me be choose to be kind, loving and forgiving of others.

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