Lent 2008: Day 12 – Anger and Death

Anger Angeris an easy emotion to out of our control, especially when things, big and small, are not going our way. To avoid facing our anger, we have many sidesteps to assist us in avoiding admitting to anger: I am upset about something; I am a little irritable today; I am out of sorts. Most of the time, however, something or usually someone, has made us angry.

Now anger, in and of itself, is not bad. God gets angry.

He does, however control his anger.
“I will not execute my burning anger;I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst,and I will not come in wrath.” Hosea 11:9

He balances his anger with compasion.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

Our anger, on the other hand, is not always pure and holy like God’s.

Our anger does not produce righteousness.
Know this, my beloved brothers: 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. James 1:19-20

It must be dealt with immediately to avoid the temptation to sin.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27

With that in mind, there is a relationship between anger and this year’s Lenten theme, a relationship between anger and death. Here is how I have come to see it recently: anger must die to avoid bringing death or it will eventually turn to sin and destroy the object of its desire, either mentally and emotionally, or literally and physically.

Because of our fallen nature, any strong emotion holds the danger of ready corruption. For me, at least, it is because my brokeness means that the checks and balances that govern my behavior do not work efficiently. To use an analogy, I am like a car with slop in the steering and spongy brakes, it doesn’t take much speed before things quickly get dangerous.

Over the course of my life, partially from learned behavior from my father (as well as a few notable genes), I have had a problem dealing with anger (which I used to call irritability, upset, etc.). My Christianity, coupled with maturity, along with some dietary additions (St. Johns Wort) helped me get a handle on the problem. Hoever, it still rears its head when things get really difficult.

What is different this year is I am trying to incorporate my new insight of having to put my anger to death, not just calm it down, or push it aside. I need to slay it outright. I believe that is the only way to meet Paul’s admonition in Ephesians.

How to effectively do that is the question. The answer is growing as I deal with forgiveness, both of others and myself, sacrifice, leanring to give up what caused it (if that is right), figuring out how to let go (cut the ties that bind) and let God.

The solution is never to turn on the people involved, either dismissing them or blaming them. The solution is always internal, how I deal with the things that rouse the emotion in the first place.

I pray you are able to join me in this quest to marry anger and death, to move forward without sinning, learning to not let the sun go down without dealing with the issues involved. Grace and peace.

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