Taming Your Anger, Part II
"If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the Devil." 1
One of the worst things we can do with anger is to deny and repress it. Long-term repressed anger turns into hostility and contaminates everything we do. And there is probably nothing more destructive to personal relationships than unresolved buried anger or hostility.
Even worse, when triggered, it can have fatal results. According to The Bulletin, an Australian magazine, in one year 80 percent of the homicide victims in one state were killed by family members or intimate friends. Most of these fatal attacks were the results of quarrels in everyday situations.
Hostility can show itself in any of a number ways: a negative, critical attitude, nagging, sarcasm, gossip, resentment, hatred, slamming doors, shouting, taking it out on the children, kicking the cat, aggressive driving, childish "I'm hurt!" crying, rebellion, denial of sex in marriage, deviant behavior (prostitutes, for example, are often angry at their fathers or men who abused them), putting people down, constantly running late, passivity, withdrawal, rage, and even criminality—or becoming saccharine sweet in an attempt to deny that they are angry. The list is endless.
Or, as Dr. Cecil Osborne explains in his book, The Art of Understanding Yourself, repressed anger may eventually come out in the "form of some psychosomatic illness: ulcers, asthma, arthritis, colitis, dermatitis, heart ailments or any one of a score of others."2
Hostility attacks people. Healthy anger is directed against wrong(one word-)doing, is connected with love, and is the right amount of anger for the given situation. A helpful question to ask yourself if you think you might be overreacting is: "Should I be this angry?"
People who overreact to situations often have a lot of repressed anger. The immediate situation which out-of-proportion anger brings out doesn't cause it, it triggers what is already there.
The Bible also says, "If you are slow to get angry, you are wise. But if you are quick-tempered, you only show foolishness."3 This isn't an excuse for denying one's anger, as denial can be equally foolish and destructive.
Being quick-tempered is usually overreacting, another sign of unresolved anger.
Again, as the Bible reminds us: "So get rid of your feelings of hatred [anger]. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with dishonesty."4 Also, "If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the Devil."5
How then do we resolve anger? We'll answer this question in tomorrow's Daily Encounter.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to always be in touch with my true feelings whatever they are, and be honest about them to myself and to you, and learn how to resolve them in healthy and loving ways. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Ephesians 4:26-27 (TLB) (NLT).
2. Cecil Osborne, The Art of Understanding Yourself, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967, p. 61.
3. Proverbs 14:29 (NLT).
4. 1 Peter 2:1 (TLB) (NLT).
5. Ephesians 4:26-27 (TLB) (NLT).