The danger of anger
Mattias Tan // June 13, 2017, 11:37 am
I’m sure you’ve felt this way some point in your life. This undeniable boiling, bubbling on the inside; your fists are clenched, muscles tensed, fangs bared and seething with rage.
Your entire body is on the edge, raring to go, like a greyhound on the racetrack. All it takes is a single match, a single spark, a single wrongly-placed or inappropriate comment and …
That’s right. Boom.
Such rage. It’s everywhere.
Gamers rage quit. Parents rage at defiant kids. Even the apostles James and John, who were in Jesus’ inner circle, were referred to as the Sons of Thunder in Luke 9:54, where they wanted to call down fire from heaven in a fit of rage.
Life, y’know? So often we find ourselves like bubbling cauldrons, and sometimes it all just spills over. But rage isn’t good for us.
Research shows that people who rage easily have a 19% higher chance of getting heart disease compared to their calmer counterparts.
Stress hormones race through our veins when we’re angry, causing our blood vessels to tighten and blood pressure to rise. Over time, this constant contraction and relaxation of our artery walls can damage them due to wear and tear.
In addition, many other health ailments are associated with rage: Strokes, anxiety disorders, depression, lowered lung capacity, airway inflammation, weakened immunity system and even a shortened life.
In the Bible, there were many instances where rage led to terrible things happening. Moses, in his anger with the Israelites, struck the rock at Meribah instead of speaking to it, thus preventing him from leading the Israelites into the Promised Land (Numbers 20).
In his anger, Cain murdered Abel, which meant that Cain could no longer live a peaceful farming existence but had to wander the earth (Genesis 4).
At the moment of outrage, which god do we serve?
God repeatedly cautions us in His Word against the danger of anger. Ephesians 4:26 warns us against sinning while angry, and Proverbs 29:22 states that an angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. The list goes on.
Despite knowing that, in our anger, we do things on impulse, often without thinking. In my younger years, I have said and done many rash things in anger, which I have later regretted.
But God doesn’t just say “don’t do this” or “don’t do that”. He doesn’t just leave us with rules, but shows us the better way forward.
Proverbs 29:11 tells us that a fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control, and Proverbs 15:18 urges us to be the patient man who calms the quarrel, rather than being hot-tempered and stir up conflict.
ANGER IN PERSPECTIVE
Over time, as I’ve grown closer to God and learnt to walk in step with Him, I’ve learnt – often the hard way – to keep my temper in check. No, the flashpoints didn’t go away, yes, it’s difficult – I still flare up from time to time.
But I’ve learnt something crucial: At the end of the day we must learn to look to God and trust Him in our anger. We must invite Him into our rage, so that He can calm the storm.
It’s the lesson of Psalm 2, which begins: Why do the nations rage?
And the solution is this: Appreciate that whatever it is you’re raging about, there is a greater fury to fear.
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury.
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.(Psalm 2:4-5, 10-12)
We are creatures of outrage. We are addicted to anger. We can’t help ourselves. And the truth is, so much of our rage is legitimate. So justifiable.
But that’s not the point. The point is this: At the moment of outrage, which god do we serve?
In our anger, do we offer up sacrifices to the altar of sin? Do we think murderous thoughts about others? Do we allow our tongue to go untamed? Do we think of people with contempt, not compassion?
We must learn to look to God and trust Him in our anger. We must invite Him into our rage, so that He can calm the storm.
The lesson of Psalm 2 is this: That whatever judgment you are passing on others in your anger, know that there is a greater judgment that is yet to come, when you will have to give an account for your thoughts and actions. For every word you speak (Matthew 12:36).
So let it go. It’s not worth it. Surrender your anger. Let God vindicate you, not your fists and foul words.
Kiss the Son – take refuge in Him. We invite Him into our rage – so that He can calm the storm.