Coping with Anger
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,
along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender–hearted, forgiving each other,
just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;
for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.James 1:19–20
When a man starts coming off lust, anger is often one of the first emotions that bubbles up. Some of this is the consequence of stuffing his feelings; the soul doesn’t do well when it’s been trapped in a box for years. Another source might be repressed anger at people who’ve hurt him in the past. The last piece of the puzzle is that his flesh is going on rampage; the Great Me is no longer getting its lust–fix so pride is going postal.
When I went through this, I would have quiet time with the Lord in the morning, feel great afterwards, and then snap at my wife moments later. I couldn’t stop the emotional poison inside from bubbling up.
At that time I still had several chips (more like logs) on my shoulder that I carried against several people. One was the person who molested me. Although I wasn’t aware of it, I had a lot of forgiveness work that had to be done. This and my pride were the two main elements of my anger problems.
We are commanded to forgive anyone who wrongs us from the heart (Matthew 18:35). Anything less won’t remove the root of bitterness. Doing so involves acknowledging we were hurt, grieving it if necessary, and then releasing the sin by granting a full pardon for what was done. If we struggle with bitterness, we do not stuff our feelings and deny that we were hurt; this is what poisoned our heart in the first place.
Some might say that we should wait until we feel like it to forgive or only if the other person asks for it, but this doesn’t square with Scripture. “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions” (Mark 11:25). There have been several instances in my life where God has called me to forgive someone who hurt me deeply—including the person who molested me—without waiting for a confession.
In one case I wrote the other person a letter, told them what they did, and then granted forgiveness. Their response was to write back and say, “Did that make you feel better?” without acknowledging any wrongdoing. In another case, I got alone with God and prayed through granting the other person a full pardon.
In both cases, I felt peace and a sense of relief afterwards. The response of the person who wrote back and didn’t own up to their sin didn’t matter because I had forgiven them. The root of bitterness was gone, and I had no intention of planting it again.
How others respond is not what matters, but that we submit ourselves to God and forgive as He tells us to. Jesus gave us the ultimate example of forgiveness when He asked God the Father to forgive those who crucified Jesus even as they were insulting Him.
For some of you, forgiving others will be a critical component on your journey to freedom.
The content above is an excerpt from Chapter 69 of 100 Days on the Road to Grace