Friday, July 28, 2017
"Slow to Anger"
My Presbyterian friend, Lloyd Ogilvie, likes to say, “Tell me what ticks you off and I will tell you what makes you tick.” Anger is a powerful emotion, it will not be repressed. When we repress anger, it emerges in some other destructive form, detrimental to the integration of body, mind, and spirit. When our needs are not met, anger is never very distant.
Happiness is one of our perceived needs. What is creative, good and right for us? When our needs are blocked or detoured in some way, anger begins to surge. Yes, we say, “It makes my blood boil.”
In the Psychology of Being, Dr. Abraham Maslow describes our basic needs in life – safety and security, belonging and affection, respect and self-respect, and self-actualization. Put a hold on any of these and up springs anger. It generally emerges in destructive imaging and behavior.
Can we alter the intensity of our anger? Yes, our greatest gift is freedom of choice. We do choose how we react to the denial of our needs. The Biblical insight found in James 1:19-20 says, “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.”
Through James, the Holy Spirit suggests to us three things; be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
Part of listening is prayer. Our candid prayers God can handle. Part of prayer is listening for the counsel of the Holy Spirit. What does the Lord want us to hear?
Slow to speak suggests we pause before responding and ask ourselves, what is the redemptive thing to say? Blurting out a crippling response is not therapeutic. There is a big difference between leveling someone and leveling with someone.
Slow to anger is a reminder that we are responsible for what we say and do. Are we respecting the other person as having been made in the image of God? Sin is to miss the target, fall short of God’s good intention for us and rely on our own ingenuity.
The expectation for the Christian is that we will be Christ-like.
Now, that’s a challenge!