A few years ago, I had a pretty intense conversation with a very close friend.
We worked together. We prayed together. We enjoyed life together. We were close.
But during this one particular phone conversation, my colleague was angry. He was angry about life, business, and a plethora of other things.
And the entire exchange was one of the most hurtful conversations I’ve ever had with another human being.
Why it hurt
The conversation was painful because my friend chose to use his anger to wound others, namely me.
The anger in the conversation was vindictive, cutting, barbed, and poisonous.
It was also inappropriate, uncalled for, and completely unwarranted.
How do you react to others when you’re angry or offended?
I’ll never forget how I felt as he attacked me, during our conversation. I felt belittled, small, and unloved. I felt like the child of an angry parent who passes their frustrations onto their kids through a physical beating.
I became defensive as my main goal was survival. And as the discussion progressed, my emotional state and mindset was transformed into a warrior, as a byproduct of fight or flight syndrome.
Like someone who was prepared for verbal-battle, my reaction was to fight, and bear my sword and shield, while clinching my teeth with raw emotion that propelled me to strike back. The verbal conflict that ensued was mean and crude.
When the dust settled, after about an hour of dialogue, there were tears and emotional-lacerations that would need to be healed.
But being angry wasn’t the problem. Being angry isn’t a bad thing, unless in your fit of emotional indignation you intentionally attack and hurt others.
How to react
In Matthew 21, Jesus discovered some men were cynically profiting from those who came to worship in His Father’s house.
He too was angry. Jesus expelled these men and said “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'”
But Jesus’ anger was far different from ours.
When we get angry because we feel offended or because we feel someone is keeping us from doing something we want to do, we get upset and lash out.
When you and I feel this way, we seek to hurt the person who is preventing us from getting what we want because our anger is centered only on ourselves and our desires.
But Jesus’ anger wasn’t like this.
Instead of a selfish anger, His is a righteous anger. He was angry because the merchants were treating the Lord’s House with contempt. He was angry because they were cheating and treating people unjustly.
And when God gets angry at sin, it’s because He knows the terrible damage it does to us, whom He loves.
- Unjustified angry outbursts put your heart at risk because of the physical damaging effects on your cardiac health.
- Needless anger increases your risk of stroke.
- Unnecessary anger weakens your immune system and can make anxiety worse.
- Anger is often times linked to depression and can even shorten your life.
Unless your anger is a righteous anger, like that of Jesus’, it’s going to cause emotional issues, physical problems, and damage your quality of life.
Fools give vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm
Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm.”
Don’t excuse your anger.
Don’t let it destroy you and relationships around you, because left unchecked, it will.
The goal of being an emotionally healthy person is to learn to react to life’s frustrations with patience, instead of anger.
What to do
Have you unjustly attacked someone recently, (knowingly or unknowingly) because you let your anger get the best of you?
Have you wounded someone with how you angrily reacted when you were offended or didn’t get what you wanted, because you were focused on yourself and your desires?
If this is you, then seek restoration in your relationship. Seek forgiveness. Go to the person whom you offended and tell them you’re sorry and ask for their forgiveness.
This will build trust, show humility, and over time repair what was broken.
And when you’re angry, choose to react to life’s frustrations with patience, instead of anger.