Anger is a strong emotion. It can elicit tears, yelling, or even physical aggression, resulting in resentment and regret over words and actions that can’t be taken back. How can we, as followers of Christ, deal with this passionate emotion when it is directed at us or when we feel the fires of it burning inside us?
You might be one to get frustrated and say, “ I hate people!” . Chances are you don’t really hate people, but you dislike their behavior. It can be frustrating when you follow the rules, expecting others to do the same, and they don’t. There’s a whole lot of the ME above anybody else mentality going on in the world, and that can be challenging to deal with.
Driving in traffic is one of the most telling scenes about human behavior. How do we react when other drivers tailgate too closely, or aren’t driving the speed limit, or cut you off? Driving is supposed to be a convenient luxury that brings us joy, but a lot of the time it seems to bring about irritation and downright anger. How do you respond when another driver honks and flips you off? Do you return the favor? Would Jesus do that?
Our response to people’s behavior is greatly influenced by what we have been taught and who we are spending our time with. When you have children, you teach them right from wrong, and you are discerning when it comes to the friends they hang out with. The reason for that discernment is because of the influence those friends will have on our kids, and because who they hang out with affects how other people view them. Like it or not, that’s the truth.
Even as adults, the behavior of the people we spend time with rubs off on us. Do you remember when you had little ones and you would be in a bad mood or stressed? Babies and little ones pick up on that and feed off of our emotions. That doesn’t go away in adulthood. Maybe the whole “feed off each other” thing is something born into us. When you hang around people who tend to be negative, it can be hard to stay positive.
Most negative and angry people are broken and have inner turmoil in their lives. They might just need to be heard, loved, not quickly judged, but helped. So, how can we befriend these folks but not become like them?
- · Set Boundaries
o As Christians, we may feel compelled to befriend and show God’s light to those who are broken. The trouble is, only Jesus can fix broken people. We should show kindness to them, but keep a distance emotionally. When you start to feel their negative influence taking over, choose to spend time in God’s Word instead.
- · Pray For Them
o When a driver honks at you and flips you off, look at the expression on their face. It won’t be a pretty one. Most of the time, there is pain behind that expression. Choose to pray for that person. Just a brief prayer saying, “Father, I don’t know what is hurting that person today, but would you ease his/her pain?”. That will also take the focus off of your frustration in the situation.
- · Love Them
o Our challenge is to love. It isn’t to judge or conform or covet, but to love. This is better managed when we remember that this world is not really home. There are a lot of good things here, and there is a lot of trouble here, but there’s a better home waiting for us.
- · Practice Self-Control
o In order to be in the world, but not of it, we must develop self-control. Jesus honors this because He practiced it. He stayed calm while being mocked, beaten and hung to die. We can look to His example, and not allow our emotions to control us.
We walk by example and teeter on a tight rope of emotions during various times in our lives. We must choose to love, and hope our example of light rubs off on somebody else’s darkness.
We leave you with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ““Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Passages to Ponder:
Proverbs 22:24-25 – Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.
I John 2:15-16- Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
Romans 8:9- But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all).
Contributors: Karen Bromby, Monica Brown, Michele Killion, Kim McClure, Marla McDonald and Kristy Tolley