The goal of this blog is to assist The Surge body--and other readers--with some practical steps to cooperate with God and His Spirit to make killing anger a reality. Hope this encourages you!!
Number 1: Ponder, don't react. We act like it sometimes, but we are not simple beasts of the field. We are not my daughter's mutt that goes ape every time the mailman shows up. We do not have to react every time anger bubbles up. In fact, you have already learned to control your anger to some extent Proof, you say? Ok, how about at work? Yeah, that boss or that co-worker. You can feel anger rising up, but you don't always scream or rant or stomp or throw things when things happen at work. If you do, you won't have a job there long. No, you've learned to hold it at least until you can get to a restroom or take a walk, some place you can scream bloody murder and not get fired.
So, all we're talking about is extending the practice you use at work to other arenas of your life. Use the anger welling up as a tipoff that something is wrong. Get yourself some "be still" time--time to figure out what's really going on. Now, this is definitely hard for we extroverts, but even we can be trained. The minute you walk in and your spouse tells you she wrecked the car, or your child tells you he failed the class, or your parents tell you to clean up your room--the minute you feel the anger begin to boil, just purpose to be still. Having accomplished that, you have to have something to ponder, right? That's step number 2.
James 4:1-3 - 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, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
When you are angry, it's because there is something you want, and you are being thwarted in your attempt to get it. So, force yourself to answer the question: What is it that I am really wanting here, in this moment? Approval? Control? Acceptance? Respect? Comfort? What is it you are wanting? Dig in and get to the bottom of you. Something's happened, and it has made you angry. That something has triggered something inside of you. So, focus right now is off the situation, off the other person. It's on you. What in you is reacting to the what's outside of you? Anger is just the tip of the iceberg. Look below the surface for the real story.
Once you find the answer, you are ready for step number 3.
Once God has us seeing our hearts the way He sees them, we're ready to move to something healthier. Step number 4.
Ok, we're in a healthier place, with a saner view of reality. Time for step number 5
You might ask, "Dwaine, is this even possible? Is this realistic?" Well, not really, at least all by ourselves. If Jesus is not in your life, ruling and reigning over your heart, then it isn't going to happen. But, if He is, then it is realistic. Because that's the way Jesus lived, isn't it? I mean, in 1 Peter 2, we're told that Jesus is being crucified at the hands of angry men. And it says this:
1 Peter 2:21-23 - For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
Amazingly, the whole message I preached is summarized in that passage right there. Because here's what Jesus is saying: "I'm being mistreated by men, threatened by men, crucified by men, hated by men, spoken evil of by men." But, according to this passage, Jesus was enduring it, knowing that He was precious to his Father, knowing that he was loved by Him, knowing that he was pleasing to Him, even as He suffered the consequence of all of mankind's sin. And it was his trust in God that ruled his heart. He trusted God for the ultimate outcome. Jesus knew that God, the Father, would be taking care of the outcome, and so he entrusted himself to God's care. He opted not to demand the respect and approval of everyone else because He knew where He stood with the Father. He chose not to retaliate because he was secure in that relationship. As Christians, this is also true of us, if we just took the time to ponder before we react.
So, in the end, the practice of Jesus, the one we've declared is not only our savior, but our king, provides an example of the pattern He seeks to make a reality as His Spirit governs our daily lives. It is possible if Jesus is your King and His Spirit is in you. What a hope we have. I'm praying that anyone who reads this might get to experience the dwindling of anger and the emergence of a peace that even we find stunning. And may we, as Christians, live out the truth of the good news we've received in such a way that others are drawn to this magnificent God we serve.