Unleashed Vol. 9
- The problem: anger in general. What is anger?
- There is a lot of wisdom in the Bible about anger. Proverbs 29:22 “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” Proverbs 14:29 “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” God purposefully designed us to be challenged with anger; that if we go to it, it would cause us to struggle and fall. I believe He knew it would bring us closer to Him (if we choose) by causing us to see that on our own we are going to wreck things with our anger and that we need to rely on Him to love like He loves.
- Merriam-Webster says anger is, “: a strong feeling of being upset or annoyed because of something wrong or bad: the feeling that makes someone want to hurt other people, to shout.”
- Anger is a reaction, a choice. In any situation we have the choice, the free will, to respond in love or anger. Anger is a response when we feel we are being wronged, disrespected, threatened in our manhood, our competency, our leadership, our decisions, losing control of a situation, or highlighting a fear or weakness we have.
- I think the strongest vein of anger is a reaction to loss of control; in our flesh the enemy within us raising its ugly head. It’s a reaction when we are not getting our way about something; which in our depravity usually brings us to choose sin as a recourse. We often react with anger when we do not know what to do or how to act.
- Anger can consume your personality and attitude, it can control you, it can blind you, it can distract you, it can ruin you, and it can destroy people around you.
- ANGER STEALS YOUR TRUE SELF. Anger is not who you are in God.
- We often use anger to control when we feel we’ve lost control or are not getting our way. We use it as a means to intimidate others to get what we want. Usually women get blamed for manipulation, but we as men can be just as good at it, just in a different way.
- Anger often leads us to feeling like we deserve better, like we were the victim of a situation, so then we are justified in acting angry. But this thought process then also becomes intoxicating by allowing us to easily justify sin we go to “feel better” about being wronged. “I had a hard week… I deserve to go get wasted drunk.” “My wife has been so disrespectful, she hasn’t touched me in forever, I deserve to go check out my favorite porn site.” Before you know it you’re hooked in a sin cycle of looking for others to come through for you, when you don’t get your way you react with anger, you hurt others and push them away or control them with fear, and then you self-medicate to feel better about it all.
- Anger does not have to be our response, but it often is…
- I think there are really two categories for anger: how we feel anger (head anger vs. heart anger) and how we express anger (aggressive anger vs. passive-aggressive anger).
- Head anger: This is the small stuff. Road rage for example, someone cuts you off, you flip out and feel anger, but it doesn’t hurt your heart, you’re just mad for a moment, then usually your over it by the time you get to your destination. Head anger is the basic annoying things that get to you. Head anger doesn’t linger long, flash in the pan and it’s usually done.
- Heart anger: This is the deeper stuff. The times your friends or your wife don’t come through for you like you needed them to, or maybe you feel God is unfairly challenging you. You feel hurt, maybe neglected, maybe short changed, judged, ridiculed, perhaps you develop an unforgiving calloused heart or build a grudge. Heart anger hangs around a while, or a long while, it burns, it hurts, and you usually have a hard time processing this or talking about it, this is anger we might try to ignore. These are often wounds.
- Aggressive anger: This is what people see, hear, and experience. This is the red faced, temper tantrum, three year old in all of us who has to make sure people know we are not happy! This is when you punch your steering wheel and curse out that driver who had the audacity to cut you off!!! This is where we yell at our wife or our kids for not being perfect or making a mistake (because clearly we are perfect and don’t make mistakes right!?!?!?). This is when we are unloving, acting out, when we break stuff, slam doors, say things we will regret later, and hurt people. This is when we see red, when we are out of control in our flesh, when we sin and destroy.
- Passive-aggressive anger: This is what some people may pick up on, if you leave the right clues or use the right sarcastic remark, otherwise they may or may not experience it. You might just come off as tired, or maybe a little down; but inside you are just as mad as the aggressive anger, but bottling it in. This anger can be volatile, mainly because it is hidden; there is often an entitlement to this type of anger. This type of anger often leads to a victim mindset, you begin to believe you deserve better, you often start justifying sin you go to in order to make yourself feel better. “I’ve been working my butt off for months providing for my family, and I get no respect, no one here listens to me…” then you’re off finding pleasure in other sinful places, you fill in the blank here. Often there is secrecy here, often others have no idea you’re angry or what sin you are pursuing to make yourself feel better.
- Anger is a part of all of us. Daily we are all presented with challenges on how we act and react. Anger is built into our character and how we live out life’s interactions. Over time we begin to settle into similar ways of dealing with the stress of life and we can begin to see how anger ingrains itself into our character. It is not permanent, you never have to stay where you are with anger, but left to yourself, you probably will.
- Head anger + aggressive anger = Blow up at the drop of a hat. Very violent, lots of yelling, verbal abuse, a fighter. Fear is everywhere for everyone involved. Rage.
- Head anger + passive-aggressive anger = Dangerous. Bottling. “Maybe I’ll remember that insult for down the road and bring it back up for great ammunition against you the next time we have a fight.” “If you won’t come through for me, I’ll get my needs met somewhere else.” Unforgiveness and grudges. Vindictive.
- Heart anger + aggressive anger = Passionate yelling matches. Lots of crying, pain, anguish. Manipulation, doing / saying hurtful things to “get even.” Selfish. Punishing.
- Heart anger + passive-aggressive anger = Deadly. Bottling then exploding hatred. “Too little too late” kind of victim mind set. Secret sin response. Cheating on spouse, calloused heart, and wrath.
- Notice how everything listed so far has been devoid of God’s love and lays completely within ourselves and the enemy?
- There are so many lies the enemy gets us to believe that cause us to go to anger instead of God. Lies that tell us, “we need to have it all under control”, “have it all figured out”, “it’s not ok to be wrong”, “failure is weakness”, “and our lives need to be perfect”… When we get there and hold on to those false realities instead of our relationship with God, things crumble and we grasp out, often with anger, to get what we think we want and need.
- The simple truth is, if we are not going to God, we are grasping for the wrong thing, period. Whatever that thing is, it will never come through for us.
- Think about it: How many times has anger really helped you? How many times has it built, grown, and developed positive relationships? How many times have you had to apologize for something you said or did when you were angry? How many apologizes do you still owe to people because of your anger? How many times has anger caused you to willfully sin?
- Anger against your three links of support.
- I believe I’ve seen in my life where the enemy really tries to create division within my strongest supports to attack and weaken me, Satan wants me to feel alone. Satan is constantly trying to destroy all I hold dear and isolate me. I can often feel opportunities where I can chose an anger response towards my links of support or a loving / understanding response towards my links of support. I totally relate with this verse here, 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The devil is trying to work with my flesh to get me to fall.
- Anger separating me from God.
- When I’m unhappy with my circumstances or feel like He is to blame for why times are tough or I’m not getting my way, anger steps in. It’s easy to believe the lies that flood my brain: “He doesn’t love me.” “He is challenging me too much, too hard, it’s not fair.” “I can’t hear Him, I haven’t heard from Him in a while, He’s abandoning me.” “I can’t take this!” When I’m buying into those lies my anger hardens my heart and I feel separation.
- Now I want to make a point here. Notice how again, it’s all me, my flesh, the enemy within. God has unconditional love, no matter how much I doubt or sin, he will love me the same and wait for me. What I’m saying here is when I’m in my depravity and turning away from Him in sin and doubt, I cause the separation because of my anger and calloused heart.
- Anger separating me from my wife.
- Living with someone is hard. Doing it on your own without God’s influence is even harder!!!
- As I’m sure many of you can relate, living with someone can give you opportunities to show love or to show anger on a minute by minute basis! When we are focused on our needs and our wants, we have blinders on and can quickly go to anger when we are not getting our way.
- If I’m not careful, my anger can easily bully and intimidate my wife. Again, the enemy comes at me with lies that get me to buy into a false truth, “My wife should be perfect!” “She should know…” “Doesn’t she know how hard I work for her…?” It’s so easy to tear her down for her mistakes and punish her with my anger and unloving attitude. I can crush her heart and her spirit with anger, quickly, often without even knowing it. Other times I do it on purpose. Then I wonder why we have discord and she doesn’t seem “in the mood” or want to interact with me the way I want.
- Emerson Eggerichs wrote Love and Respect. There he describe the “Crazy Cycle” where (for the sake of argument, let’s start here by saying) a man acts unloving in his flesh towards his wife, then the woman acts disrespectful in her flesh towards her husband, and the cycle perpetuates… Sound familiar? I know I’ve been there. Suddenly you are looking for ways to point out your wife’s flaws and trying to attack her! Crazy right? This is the woman you fell in love with and want to spend your life with, what went wrong?
- Anger separating me from my brothers in Christ
- As we walk and talk and live life together, as we share and are vulnerable and known with each other, it gets real.
- The pursuit of perfection is a sin. No one can attain perfection. Yet we often expect others to come through for us in ways that seem to require them to be perfect. Often when we don’t get our way, we react poorly with our brothers.
- When we are not careful, our flesh and Satan can wreck these fragile manly relationships. At times I know I’ve felt anger with guys I’m known with for a number of reasons. Sometimes its feeling judged for something. Sometimes it’s be ridiculed or mocked for a place of struggle instead of getting support and advice. Sometimes it’s getting too much advice when really I just needed a listening ear. Sometimes it’s seeing a brother struggle and giving sound advice, then seeing them ignore it and choose to continue down the wrong path, then losing patience, love, or judging them for it.
- Again, in many of these situations, it’s easy to let anger take over and judge, to start putting up defense walls to protect myself, to make vows like, “I’ll never… again with that guy.”
- The solution? Battle well, go to your links of support for help fighting anger. Now guys, I’m not saying it’s bad to feel anger; that IS going to happen. I’m not writing this to beat you up for feeling angry or losing your temper. What I am saying is that it matters how we process our anger and how it manifests itself in our behavior. I am not suggesting we turn into mindless “nice guys” who never get mad or angry. I’m saying we need to examine ourselves and see how our heart is. Beyond self-reflection, our links of support can give appropriate and valuable feedback on where you are at. I think we need to remember that as a Christian in this fallen world, it is our job to reflect Christ to anyone who sees us. I should want to honor God in all that I do. As if that isn’t enough motivation, also think about your legacy. How do you want to be remember? Angry, volatile, unapproachable, unloving, dominating? Or something better??? Philippians 2:14-16 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”
- Link #1 God:
- The opposite of anger is love. God is love. We are called to reflect God’s love to the world. If I am to do this, I HAVE TO BE IN CHECK WITH MY ANGER.
- It always come back to the double love command!!! Mark 12:29-31 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
- James 1:19-21 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
- Enough said, right!
- I have to think of God and others first, we are called to be servant leaders. Not a popular stance in our culture, but essential to get this right!
- We have to surrender to Him and realize we can’t do it on our own, we need Him. We will struggle, we will not do this perfectly, but He cares about our heart and our effort. He forgives, He loves. Nehemiah 9:17 “They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.”
- Link #1 God:
- Psalms 145:7-9 “They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”
- The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
- God calls us to be slow to anger and quick to forgive; to keep a “short list” just as He does for us.
- We have to develop the mental discipline to keep our minds dependent and focused on God in order to curve our choice of anger in our response. We have to love others enough to realize when we are wronged by someone else, they may have had no ill intentions or that they were in their flesh and not themselves as they are in Christ. Then forgive instantly as Christ does for us.
- As I think about showing Christ to the world, how well does anger do that?
- Psalms 37:7-9 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
- Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”
- Link #2 Wife:
- Again, the double love command. I must love God first and my wife second, both above myself.
- I have to prioritize my marriage with her, I have to balance life’s responsibilities to include her as a major priority and communicate with her. I have to treat her in a way that honors God, regardless of her actions or response. Ephesians 4:26a “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
- When you screw up in your anger, don’t you want her to react in a Godly way towards you? Then you have to model it first and you have to do it for her! 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 “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.”
- Talk things out with her, even if it’s tough, especially if it’s tough. If it’s tough, that means it is important and worth the effort to work it out. She will love hearing your heart, even if it is hard stuff. Communicating on deep levels about heavy stuff brings you closer together, helps you really know and understand each other, and build oneness.
- Emerson & Sarah Eggerichs wrote Love and Respect, one of the best Biblical marriage curriculums I have ever seen! It has been nothing short of phenomenal in my marriage! I would consider it absolutely required of every married or engaged couple to go through this curriculum! Earlier I described the “crazy cycle,” the opposite of that is the “energizing cycle.” Basically the energizing cycle is fully owning the double love command by loving/honoring God through my loving response to my wife. I react in ways that communicate love to my wife because I am putting her first regardless of her response to me. Hopefully then, over time, with God working in her life too, she will also do the same for me, but if not I do it anyways because it is right. I do it not as a manipulation to get what I want, I do it because in honors God and honors my wife.
- Link #3 Brothers:
- Ephesians 4:30-32 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
- Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Understand we are all battling our flesh daily. If you can remember that in a tough moment, it can help you understand they are not being their true self in the movement and give some grace and forgiveness right away!
- Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” Again if we are developing that mental discipline to focus on God, we have a better ability to control our anger response when that adrenaline rush hits in the midst of conflict. We can anticipate our flesh and conquer it through God and in turn love each other well by responding in a way that honors God and Honors each other.
- As we share, open up, walk together, and are known with each other; we also have to demonstrate that grace and forgiveness God gives to us. We can so easily wound each other, just as we have wounded and grieved God when we make mistakes. Yet God forgives, why sometimes can we not? Is that which someone has done to us so bad that it is too big for God to handle? I think not. We have to let go of that control; that grudge, that anger, and forgive. Then get back to the work of the Kingdom together!!!
- With mutual respect, love, and understanding this relationship between guys works as God intended; to learn from each other, to grow, to build, to encourage, and to support.
- So guys, as always have the courage to really be known with other Godly men! Take a risk! God will reward it! Share, be know! If things get tough, forgive and continue!
- Anger is so common among men, Guys this is relatable! Share! Encourage each other to put God and others first! Hold each other accountable to the double love command.
- If you have unresolved conflict with a brother in Christ, guys don’t let it linger. Be a follower of the double love command and love. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Break the chains grudges keep around your heart and be free!
- Questions to ponder:
- Where is anger most prevalent in your life?
- Is there unforgivness and grudges in your life that you need to surrender?
- Do you relate with the “crazy cycle” in your marriage? If so, what will it take for you to begin moving into the “energizing cycle?”
- How can you improve your obedience to the double love command?
- Do you have brothers in Christ that you can relate to with this stuff?
Guys, remember I need this stuff as badly as you do. I can write this because I have lived it. Ups and downs. Mistakes and triumphs (daily). God has shown me a lot about myself over the years and I have been broken by it many times. But, I never give up, I keep working, I keep trying. I am here to battle and give my best. Thank you for coming along with me.
As always, I want to encourage you to battle well through this stuff. Don’t go through these struggles alone, don’t get down on yourself, you have to be able to forgive yourself and remember God has a plan for you through everything. I pray that you have the blessing of good godly brothers in your corner that you can go to for support. Anger can create some heavy chains around our hearts. Those chains are not permanently in place; men I challenge you to begin the process of reflecting and allowing God to show you where anger is holding you back. Through Him, you can break the chains of the enemy and be free! We are all a work in progress, be patient with yourself, your wife, your brothers, and with God; but keep on battling and moving forward, keep your eyes on Him!
3:18 Men of Freedom
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