We are ending our series on anger with a victorious trumpet call! We will overcome in Jesus name! We don’t have to live our lives under the oppressive control of anger. The Word tells us that whom the Son sets free, is free indeed! We can walk the path to freedom by the help of the Lord.
In the past three lessons in the series, we talked about how anger is not always a bad thing, we looked at the deeper roots, and we talked about how our thoughts create a life of anger or a life of peace. This time we will be discussing how we can overcome anger through both biblical and practical wisdom.
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1. Receive the Power of God’s Love
I believe that one of the greatest reasons for a stronghold of anger in our lives is because we haven’t truly learned to receive the love of God. I feel like this is definitely true in my own life. When we just can’t believe that God could unconditionally love us, it creates a sense of rejection and shame… And we’ve already talked about the deep link between sadness and anger. We are trapped into feeling like we must perform perfectly for God to love us fully. It’s a lie! He does love us with an everlasting love and it’s time for us to believe it. I love what it says in Ephesians 3:17-18:
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.
Yes, and Amen!
2. Control Our Thoughts
This was the main point of last week’s post, but we need to be reminded often. The quality of our emotions, even of our lives, is largely determined by the thoughts that we think. If there’s a situation that is frustrating you, channel your thoughts to a positive place. If there is a co-worker consistently getting under your skin, set reminders in your phone to whisper a prayer for them and remind yourself that they have struggles and troubles of their own.
Often we allow our thoughts to roam into an imaginary place where we are making things up. Don’t you do this, too? We imagine conversations or confrontations. We mope about situations and often exaggerate what is really going on. That’s why the first command in Philippians 4:8 is to think on whatever is true. We must do this! Satan would fill our minds with lies – as is often his tactic – and we will get dragged to an emotionally unstable place. We must purpose in our hearts and minds to make our thoughts obey Jesus Christ!
3. Silence Your Inner Critic
Related to #2, if you are constantly berating yourself in your head, you will be more likely to berate and criticize others. Ask me how I know! If we have a tendency to be a perfectionist and to be unnecessarily hard on ourselves, it takes an emotional toll. Not just on us, but on everyone around us! It’s the proverbial, we are hurting ourselves, so we hurt others type of thing.
We must believe that God truly loves us, and since He gives us abundant grace, we must also give ourselves grace (#7)! Silence that angry voice!
4. Pray Specifically for Healing
To be specific in prayer has been on my mind a lot, lately. Too often, I fear we pray generic prayers and expect God to work in a specific way. It’s almost as if we are more interested in “checking off the prayer box” rather than actually believing that what we ask for, we will receive! The Bible is clear that we do have to ask and seek and knock. We must do the job of going to God with our needs before He does His job of responding.
If our anger stems from hard situations in our lives, we need the Lord to intervene. It’s possible that the wound is continuing to fester and cause us angst in nearly every area of our lives. Do you have a sense that maybe there is something you are still wounded from but you don’t know what it is? Pray specifically to discern what is troubling you! God hears our heartfelt prayers and He will respond.
5. Stop Being Self-Centered
For most people, to be consumed with ourselves, our desires, and our own interests is the default. We are naturally selfish creatures and have to learn to be more concerned with the interests of others. We have to train ourselves to look outwards instead of inwards.
This is something that I am really trying to do and it’s hard! I’m an introvert, so by my very nature, I’m inclined to stay inwards. My introspection has its positive points, but I have to remind myself to look up and look out. The world doesn’t revolve around me.
The less that we think about serving our own interests, the less we are apt to dwell on wrongs or offenses against us. We are more inclined to overlook a fault, and this serves us so well. I know that I am at my most irritable when I am obsessed with my needs, my feelings, my wants. We’ve got to stop this obsession with self! When we get obsessed with serving others, instead, our emotional life gets a huge lift. Which brings me to #6…
6. Love and Serve Others Well
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…1 Corinthians 13:4-8
It is the essence of the gospel to love and serve others. I wonder if we’ve ever considered that in calling us to sacrificially give to other people, God was actually setting us up to reap untold benefits, ourselves? Isn’t God like that, though? Always blessing us in unexpected ways when we are obedient?
God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. To serve the need of someone else above ourselves is a sincere, humble act. So, God gives grace… Grace upon grace. To be consumed with myself is the essence of pride, not to mention, it’s really a terribly unhappy way to live.
It’s so much harder to become angry when we are in the habit of laying down our lives for the sake of others. We don’t get offended, we don’t become irritable. We are more patient, more forgiving… It doesn’t happen overnight, but as we pray and as we practice, a lifestyle of serving others will fill us with more joy than we expected.
7. Practice Giving Grace
If we’ve lived with habitual anger, it is going to take some prayer and practice to overcome it. We must learn to give ourselves grace and then extend that to others. It might seem backwards to begin with ourselves, but I truly believe that we can’t authentically extend grace outwards until we are also doing it inside.
That pesky inner voice that is prone to criticize can be silenced with the offering of grace. And once that inner voice becomes filled with compassion and grace, it’s more easily transferred to others.
None of us is perfect or without a daily need of grace. A cousin of grace is understanding. When we are willing to look at others through understanding, grace follows so much more easily. We are all unique and different, by design. It really is a beautiful thing but frequently makes it hard to understand where someone else is coming from. That’s where grace and understanding come in. But we must practice! When a challenging situation arises that could potentially lead you to anger, whisper, give grace…give grace…give grace….
Trust the Process
Lastly, I would urge you to give yourself grace in this process of being freed from the control of anger. You didn’t become this way overnight, so neither will you be transformed overnight. It will take perseverance, a lot of hard work, and the work of the Spirit in your life. But…good news: you and I are able to overcome anger! We do not have stay under its oppressive control any longer. I pray that
your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong!Ephesians 3:17