Today we’re going to look at the value of self-control, specifically what God says about controlling your anger. Self-control is not just for those who blow up in anger, it’s also for those who clam up in anger. Most people are either a skunk or a turtle when it comes to anger. When a skunk gets angry he lets it rip, and everybody knows when the skunk’s upset. On the other hand, the turtle pulls into its shell. They don’t blow up, rather they clam up. Both of these are inappropriate forms of anger.
In our society today anger is on the rise, profanity is on the rise and violence is on the rise. Half of all murders actually occur between family members. There are 342 children arrested for violent crimes every day. 14 children are murdered every day. People get angry about little things. It comes from the fact that we live in a fast paced society. We live in a hectic, urban world where people get stressed out. We’re always on the go and burning the candle at both ends.
Anger is not evil in itself. God gets angry. Jesus got angry. When God made you He wired you up in such a way that you could get angry. It’s how you express your anger that is the key. And, if you don’t learn how to express it wisely, it will destroy you.
“A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28 NLT
Anger used in the correct way can actually become an asset. There are some things in life that the only proper response is to get angry. There are times when you see somebody taken advantage of, when you see injustice, or your children were hurt by someone. If we don’t get angry in such situations it means we don’t care, we’re apathetic and don’t really love anybody. God does not say to get rid of all anger. God says to learn to manage your anger.
7 Steps to Controlling Your Anger
1. RESOLVE TO CONTROL IT
Quit saying you can’t control your anger and start realizing you can. The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So let’s stop making excuses and start accepting responsibility for our anger.
“A fool gives full vent to his anger but a wise man keeps himself under control” Proverbs 29:11 LB
Notice the word “keeps”. This is an act of the will, it is something you choose to do. We have more control over our anger than we want to admit. Have you ever been in a fight with a someone and it gets loud, your yelling and then the telephone rings? And you say, “Hello. May I help you?” How did that happen? You chose to control your anger.
We have more control over our anger than we think we do.
Resolve simply means to decide in advance. You start controlling your anger before you hit the boiling point. Start by developing some strategies and procedures in advance of the crisis. That’s what it means to resolve to control it. You decide in advance you’re going to control your anger with God’s help.
2. REALIZE THE COST
“An angry person causes trouble; a person with a quick tempter sins a lot.” Proverbs 29:22 NCV
“Hot tempers cause arguments.” Proverbs 15:18 GN
“A hot temper shows great foolishness.” Proverbs 14:29 NLT
“People with hot tempers do foolish things.” Proverbs 14:17 GN
“The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left.” Proverbs 11:29 LB
There are all kinds of costs involved with uncontrolled anger, you always lose when you lose your temper. You may lose your reputation, your job, the love of your husband or wife, or your children. There’s a price tag to uncontrolled anger and it’s not worth it. As parents, we may be tempted to use anger to motivate our kids. Anger can get a kid to do what you what in the short term, but in the long term you’re going to lose them. The end result of anger is alienation. You alienate the very people that you love the most. Alienation leads to apathy. If you’re always angry people think you’re unpleasable so they don’t care what you think anymore.
Alienation and apathy are the high cost of anger.
3. RESTRAIN MY MOUTH
“If you keep your mouth shut you will stay out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23 NLT
Anger control is mouth control. You cannot put your foot in your mouth when it’s closed. Sometimes, The more we talk the more we say the wrong thing. In the book of James we are given a formula for controlling anger.
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 NIV
If you do the first two, open your ears and close your mouth, then you have a shot at controlling your anger. One of the myths about anger is that everybody has a reservoir (like a bucket) of anger and when that bucket gets filled up you need to pour it out. Then, once you pour it out you’ll feel better and you’ll be peaceful again. The problem with this way of thinking is you don’t have a bucket of anger in your heart, you have an anger factory. Study after study shows that releasing anger only creates more anger. Being aggressive, loud and angry only creates more anger back at you which leads a cycle of more anger.
4. REFLECT BEFORE REACTING
“A rebel shouts in anger; a wise man holds his temper in and cools it.” Proverbs 29:11
Delay is a tremendous remedy for anger. This doesn’t mean delaying indefinitely. If you’ve got an issue with someone you need to deal with it. Anger delayed indefinitely becomes bitterness and that’s worse than anger. Bitterness is always a sin, anger isn’t. If you respond impulsively, you’re going to respond in anger. But if you hold on to your anger too long it turns to bitterness. The key is to not respond to soon or hold it in too long, rather use wisdom to determine when the right time to respond is.
While in the stage of delay, you can ask yourself these three questions:
- Why am I angry?
- What do I really want?
- How do I get it?
Anger is always the symptom of the real problem. It is a warning light or an alarm bell letting you know something is wrong. Anger is a secondary emotion caused by something else. There are three basic reasons for anger: hurt, frustration or fear.
When we are hurt or wounded, physically or emotionally, we get angry. When you stub your toe, that reaction is anger and the emotion comes out. Hurt turns into anger. This is very important to know if you’re married. A lot of times when your spouse is angry it’s because they’re hurt. If someone comes up to you and says, “I’m really angry with you!” Your reaction is to put up a wall and become defensive. But if they say, “It hurt me when you said that and here’s how it hurt me.” You’re more likely to be sympathetic toward that.
Frustration also causes anger. When we have to wait, when something is out of our control, when something seems unreasonable or impossible, or when things don’t go as planned we get angry. If you understand the source of the frustration and can communicate it, it makes it easier to eliminate the anger.
We also can get angry when we are afraid. The more insecure a person is, the harder time they have with their temper. People who are self-secure in Christ and have confidence in where they stand with God are not as likely to be angry at things. But when we’re insecure and feel threatened we become angry. It is an emotion that God gave you that’s appropriate at certain times, but it’s how you deal with it that makes the difference.
5. RELEASE MY ANGER APPROPRIATELY
“If you become angry, don’t let your anger lead you into sin.” Ephesians 4:26 GN
There is a way to be angry and not sin. Let’s look at three ways not to deal with anger:
- Don’t suppress your anger – Don’t store it up inside. When you swallow your anger, your stomach keeps score (or your back, or your headaches, or your joints). If you don’t talk it out, you’ll take it out on your body.
- Don’t repress your anger – Don’t deny it. Denial and repressing your anger leads to depression. Sometimes those who are depressed are actually dealing with repressed anger, but because they are a Christian they think they cannot express anger. This leads to them freezing it instead, and frozen anger causes depression. When you deny you’re angry and claim you’re fine that’s being dishonest. There are honest examples of anger are all through the Psalms. David just tells it like it is.”God, life stinks! Life is unfair. My enemies are all against me. And God so are You!” God is not shocked by this. He can handle your anger. And after he gets it all out, David says, “God, I know You’re going to help me with this. Where else can I turn but to You? Nobody else has the answers.”
- Don’t express it in inappropriate ways – Don’t express your anger as pouting, sarcasm or manipulation. If you pout everyone has to baby you and walk on eggshells because you are upset. Sarcasm may feel good and witty at the time, but it will come back to haunt you. You hurt people with your words and destroy relationships. Manipulating the situation isn’t a healthy option either. Trying to get even to express anger leads to dumb decisions and regret.
“Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” Proverbs 22:24-25 NLT
Anger is contagious. When people get angry and shout in your face, it’s easy to catch it. When somebody else gets loud, you get louder. This verse explains that how you express your anger is a learned behavior. Whether this was from kids on the playground, your parents, your brothers and sisters, or whoever else – the inappropriate ways of anger that you’ve used all these years, you learned every one of them. The good news is, it can all be unlearned. You don’t have to go through the rest of your life expressing anger in unhealthy ways.
You can learn to express anger appropriately and God says He will give you the power to do it.
6. RETURN GOOD FOR EVIL
Booker T. Washington once said, “I will never let another man control my life by making me hate him.” When you say, “You make me mad” then you’re admitting “they control me.” You have given them that power to control your emotions. The Bible says the way you show that you’re in control of a situation is by returning good for evil. It’s easy to retaliate but when you try to get even you’re just on the same level as them. But when you respond with good it puts you in a higher position.
“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone… Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God… Overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21 NLT
You’re going to be hurt and disappointed at times in life. People are going to do bad things to you. You can either spend your time and energy retaliating or you can let God settle the score. God is going to settle the score for the injustices in life, not just here but in eternity. When someone has hurt you who can do a better job of settling the score, you or God?
Now, all these steps we’ve talked about are helpful but unless you get a power beyond yourself you can’t do them. In and of yourself you don’t have enough will power to tame the tongue. The tongue is uncontrollable from a human standpoint. That’s why the seventh key this is the one that ties it all together.
7. REQUEST GOD’S HELP
“Lord, help me control my tongue. Help me to be careful about what I say.” Psalm 141:3 NCV
“Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Matthew 12:34 NLT
God helps us manage our mouth and control our anger by going right to the source – our heart. When the world puts pressure on you, it’s what inside you that gets squeezed out. If you’re filled with irritation, then irritation is what comes out. You can’t clean up the well by simply painting the pump. If the water’s contaminated you’ve got to get to the source. And the source is not my mouth, it’s my mind and heart.
My words demonstrate my heart’s condition:
A harsh tongue demonstrates an angry heart.
A boastful mouth demonstrates an insecure heart.
A talkative mouth demonstrates an unsettled heart.
A judgmental mouth demonstrates guilty heart.
A critical spirit demonstrates a bitter heart.
On the other hand, encouraging words demonstrate a happy heart. Gentle words demonstrate a loving heart. Kind words and comforting words demonstrate a heart at peace. When God changes us, He doesn’t just paint the pump. He gives us a new, clean heart.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Psalm 51:10 NLT
All the self-help books in the world can’t do that. All the therapy in the world can’t give you a new heart. Only God can do that. When Jesus deals with your anger, He deals with the root. He recognizes we are angry because we are hurt and He offers to bind up our wounds and heal us. He sees when we are angry due to frustration and He guides us through peaceful valleys. And when we are afraid He pulls us near to help calm our fears. When we trust in Christ, we don’t have to be angry anymore
Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions about the message on trust? Have you had any opportunities to move against what’s holding you back from trusting God?
Hear the Word
Many people think they want to build their lives on values that last, but they have a hard time talking about and working on their self-control. But anything that’s uncontrolled eventually will destroy you. It could be eating, drinking, TV, Chocolate, overspending—even good things that God created can destroy you if you let them go uncontrolled.
For instance, God has a lot to say about one area of self-control that we all face in one way or another: controlling anger. Anger is not evil in itself. It is not a sin. Even God gets angry. The issue is how you express your anger. So learning how to control anger is an area in which we all can learn and grow.
“A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.
Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)
- Before we go any further, we have to remember that dealing with anger is not just for those who lash out. Anger can be dealt with in many unhealthy ways. We’ll say it this way… Self-control is not just for those who blow up; it’s also for those who clam up. What is your tendency?
- Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry person causes trouble; a person with a quick temper sins a lot.” Proverbs 15:18 says, “Hot tempers cause arguments.” Proverbs 14:29 says, “A hot temper shows great foolishness.” There’s always a cost to anger. What has moments of anger cost you?
- If you are to let anger grow out of control, what people would be affected by it? Let’s ask it this way… Have you ever been impacted by someone else’s anger? What about your parents? How has their anger impacted you and how was that anger flowing from hurt, frustration or fear?
- Read through Psalm chapters 13, 43, 51 and 140. Then, choose one of these chapters as a guide to write your own prayer about self-control before you meet again next week.
Tell Someone Else
Who can you share this message with? You could send them a link to the message at rockbrook.org or share the podcast with them, or you could share with them a truth from this message yourself. You might consider giving them a Building Your Life On Values That Last study guide.
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