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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Refrain from Anger, and Turn from Wrath

A Biblical Call from David

In Psalms 37:8, David sang, "Refrain from anger, and turn from wrath; do not fret -- it leads only to evil." (NIV)

How many of us get angry unnecessarily? It's true that we sometimes "lose our heads" over petty issues. But when you find yourself getting angry for no apparent reason, scolding others who may not have done anything wrong, you may need to manage your anger.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Proverbs 29:11


Don't get me wrong. A life without anger is perhaps best for the peacemakers. But sometimes we need anger. Righteous anger spurs the righteous into taking action; or how else do you expect your everyday police officer and law enforcer to do their duty? They need to feel the burn of righteous anger, the need to clamp down on evildoers.

But for the everyday Joe a life filled with anger may be detrimental. It's bad for you, and bad for those around you. If you explode at every little mistake that others do, and if you find yourself clenching your jaws, or even your fists, too often, it's time to take a long hard look at yourself before something bad happens.

Anger causes people to feel that they are "justified" in their action.

This may be because, "He made me angry" seems to be a valid excuse. Someone else irked you, and you exploded. You didn't get angry; someone else made you angry.

"I lost my temper" seems to be another valid excuse. You held on to you temper as best you could. But things got out of hand, and you lost your temper.

Is it any more valid than "She made me touch her" or "I lost my self-control"? If you think that you should have the self-control around other people (not your spouse) then you should have some degree of self-control against anger.

I think it's also a fallacy to declare that others made you angry. In fact, you let yourself become angry. If you harden your heart, you won't get angry. If you look at things objectively, you won't get angry. 

In anger, we lash out in ways that may hurt others. But what may be required is judicious action that helps to solve the situation.

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9

Do not fret, it leads to evil.

The word "fret" in the verse is quite strange. Perhaps it was not used in the petty sense that we think of today, some housewife wringing her hands in hopelessness and saying to herself, "Oh, what can I do! I can't help myself!" Or, perhaps it was?

In the Names of God Bible version (NOG) the verse is translated to read, "Do not be preoccupied, it only leads to evil". Fretting is replaced with being preoccupied. And this actually makes more sense, because being preoccupied with being anger seems to mean, being obsessed with being angry.

In the Common English Bible (CEB) the verse has been translated from the Hebrew to read, "Don't get upset -- it only leads to evil." So, fretting is also equivalent to getting upset. But you don't get upset all the time. Whereas, it's possible for a person to be preoccupied all the time. Morning, afternoon and night, that person may be preoccupied with anger. Obsessed, even.

The Angry Birds decided to address their anger one day.

How do you become preoccupied with anger? 


When you pre-justify your threatened actions with anger. "Don't make me angry, or else you will get it from me!" That's setting yourself up to get angry, isn't it? You're saying that you will get angry if something happens. When it happens, you have to get angry, because you are a person of principle. (But it's the wrong principle, unfortunately.)

When you keep thinking about getting angry. "I really don't want to get angry, but somehow getting angry seems to make me feel better." Or maybe, "I don't really want to get angry, but I can't avoid it." In your continuous thoughts about getting angry and how bad you feel when you get angry, you are almost meditating on getting angry. Instead, you should focus on the times when you made peace, and when you were peaceful. This is almost like people who say, "I want to quit pornography, but watching porn makes me feel good." They keep focusing on the benefits of pornography, so how can they every quit it?

And when you externalize the cause of your anger, by blaming it on others. "He always makes me angry..." Or, something like, "People who do so-and-so make me upset." This is justifying it based on the fact that you cannot control yourself, when in fact you control yourself. Did anyone force you to breathe? Did anyone force you to eat? Did anyone force you to get married? Did anyone force you to work in your present job? You chose to do all these things, and you need to understand that you are the main cause of your getting angry.

So learn from this short article, and cool down. Your life , and that of those around you, will be better as a result. Act from peace, and act based on wisdom. Remember, anger is a danger.

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