There are people in my life who I love, but who do not control their anger. I grow weary of their behavior and the strain it places on our relationship. In truth, I believe these relationships are coming to an end. Not because I don’t love these friends. Rather, they are unhealthy for me to be around. I need to focus my energies elsewhere.
In part, my angry friends are products of our culture. What is curious to me is that our culture cultivates anger at all – and perceives self-indulgent expressions of it as a sign of strength or an acceptable exercise of authority.
We have only to consider our friends to gain insights into ourselves. We have only to consider our elected leaders and celebrities to gain insights into our society. Elected leaders and popular celebrities are a reflection of the culture they represent. They become role models for future generations. In all things, including our attitudes towards anger, we have only to look to our leaders and celebrities to see what our culture values and what behaviors will be tolerated by our society.
Anger is a human emotion and it will always be a part of us, but it needs to be controlled. It needs to be channeled constructively — in a way that won’t be harmful to ourselves, others, and the world we live in. Unfettered anger is inconsistent with a peaceful and harmonious existence. It is inconsistent with a meaningful relationship with God.
We need to control our anger, and not let it control us.
We need to reexamine the perception that unleashed anger is strength — and recognize that controlled anger is aligned with strength of character.
The Bible teaches us, “A wise man restrains his anger and overlooks insults. This is to his credit.” (Proverbs 19:11) It is not a sign of strength when we indulge our anger. It is a sign of weakness.
The Bible also cautions us that how we handle our anger is a personal choice for which there will be consequences. We can teach our children how to handle their anger constructively and in a harmless fashion by fostering good role models and by not tolerating poor behavior. It’s our obligation as caregivers not to indulge our children’s fits of temper when they’re young: “Discipline your son in his early years while there is hope. If you don’t you will ruin his life.” (Psalm 19:18)
For the truth is that as we grow older, we can become slaves to our anger, and it becomes harder for us to change our behavior or recognize its harmful nature. Eventually, giving in to anger becomes a way of life.
“A short-tempered man must bear his own penalty; you can’t do much to help him. If you try once, you must try a dozen times!” (Proverbs 19:19)
If we are going to be slaves to human emotion, let us be discriminating in the emotions we choose. Let us choose our leaders and role models wisely.
There is no better role model than Jesus Christ.
If we are to be ruled by emotion, let us be ruled by love.
There is no other emotion as important or consistent with Christ’s teachings.
“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all others.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)
Photo Credit: Heiko Kverling