Wednesday, 13 April 2011

What You Need to Know About Anger - Part I

David Powlison, author, counselor, lecturer and professor at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation addresses an issue which plagues many of us. The following is a summary of a two part article that David wrote for FamilyLife.

Anger is inevitable in marriage because conflict is inevitable.

David Powlison
What makes you angry? Are they small things, like traffic jams, lines at the grocery store, not being able to find a shoe, a waiter's mistake, or a friend's inattention? Are they big things, like when someone betrays you, experiences of injustice, meanness, violence, oppression, selfishness, or lying?

How do you deal with your anger? Do you explode? Does everyone around you know when and why you are angry? Or are you more subtle?

What is anger? Anger is your God-given capacity to respond to a wrong that you think is important. It always expresses two things:

• It identifies something in your world that matters to you.
• It proclaims that you believe that something is wrong.

This could be something as minor as being served a cold cup of coffee at a restaurant. Or it could be something as major as your spouse running off with your best friend.

Wanting a good thing more than God. Sometimes you want good things. It's not wrong to want your husband/wife to love and listen to you. It's not wrong to want your children to respect and obey you. But when fulfilling your desires, even for a good thing, becomes more important than anything else, that's when it changes into a "desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).

James, in the letter he wrote to the early church, said this about where wrong anger comes from: "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have…”

Think about when you get angry. Aren't you insisting, "My will be done; my kingdom come"? And when things don't go your way, don't you judge those (including God) who are not doing what you want, as if you were God? You aren't, but when you are angry, you often act as if you were.

As you sense you are becoming angry you must ask yourself whether your anger is stemming from something that would sadden God like injustice, violence or cruelty or is it because your desires have been thwarted. This is an important first step. If in all honesty your answer is the latter – your desires have been thwarted stay tuned for part II.

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