James 1:20 KJV
20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
Our anger does not fit in with God’s plans for our lives, plain and simple. We are told to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31), to rejoice with those that rejoice and mourn with those that mourn (Rom 12:15) to always speak words that edify and build up others (Eph 4:29), to love our enemies (Matt 5:44) and to walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16). I don’t see any room in there for anger or wrath!
The main reasons people get angry are getting hurt, being betrayed, being frustrated, getting disappointed, having unreasonable expectations, and coming in contact with stupid people! Let’s look at each one of these for a moment.
When we are hurt or betrayed it is because something has done something to us that gets to our emotions and brings them to a point of negativity. In my mind, a Christian has no right to ever be negative to others. We are so blessed, how can we possibly allow negativism to creep in? This anger is simply pride that you have ended up in that position because you had too much trust in people or in a person.
The next three really go together in my opinion. The cause of frustration or disappointment is unreasonable expectations a large majority of the time. We put too high a premium on what others and do for us or our loved ones, or in our work or church environment. When we expect of others this way it is OK, but getting frustrated with them or disappointed with them is pride, because we feel it is something committed against us. Setting unreasonable expectations is also pride because we project on others what we feel we can accomplish ourselves, not realizing that we are in fact elevating ourselves in the process.
Coming in contact with stupid people happens everyday. getting angry over it is sheer pride because we think we are better or wiser than them. While that may actually be true, when we get angry at them we are once again elevating ourselves above them. Road rage is a great example. We get angry at another driver because they are weaving in and out of traffic instead of feeling blessed that they did not cause an accident near to us. Pray for stupid people, don’t get mad at them!
I’m sure you are seeing the pattern of pride here. Anger and wrath stem from our pride every time. They are symptoms of our asking questions like “How could you do that to me?” or “Don’t you know how much that bother me?” or “Why would that person not be more careful around me?” or “I just can’t understand why they could’t get this accomplished”. Notice the emphasis on sell in these questions! When we are centered on our self it is pride.
My new definition of pride is an inordinate amount of attention to self. When anger rises within us, it is because we have internalized something that is not the way we think it should be. Imagine if God did that toward us. Imagine that he got angry every time you did one of the above things to Him! How often would He be angry with you? Yet He displays grace and mercy at all times, and we are asked to do the same. If we would walk in grace and mercy toward others, anger would not be present at any time.
I challenge you to count to twenty slowly when you feel anger rising up the next time. As you are counting, ask yourself two questions. What could be going on in that other persons life that would cause them to act like that? (anger is most often the result of other people’s actions). Is this a good reason for me to walk away from what Christ teaches me and walk in the flesh instead? I would hope that once you ask yourselves these questions, you will realize that anger is not the answer.
Later in this first chapter, we will encounter the verse that says “Be angry and sin not. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath”. I say that because I want to make sure you are aware I know this is coming up when I say anger is not the answer. We will talk more about this subject at that time, but for now ponder what I have said here. While I am not an expert, God has taught me a lot while dealing with my own anger issues and pride issues. I hope it is helpful to you as well.