How can I conquer anger?
Anger destroys relationships and generates violence in the home, on the street, and in the community. Scripture warns, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19–20).
Christians are to walk in the Spirit of God, by the grace of God, yielding themselves to righteousness instead of to the bondage of sin. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:12–14).
The following insights offer keys to resolving anger.
- Accept personal responsibility for your anger.
God holds us accountable for our thoughts, words, and actions, and we will give an account to Him for each of them. (See Romans 14:12.) Accepting personal responsibility for anger requires you to agree with God that your anger is wrong. If you justify anger, try to explain it away, or blame others for it, you will not be able to conquer it.
- See anger through the experiences of those who are damaged by it.
Ask immediate family members to recall times when you got angry at them and how they felt about it. Don’t justify what you did or try to explain your real intentions. Simply listen. Begin to understand the emotional hurts they experienced through your raised voice, sharp words, and attitude of rejection.
- Act quickly to resolve past offenses.
Anger is an emotional explosion that results from a buildup of tension. Tension builds if past sins are unresolved. We tend to react in anger toward others when they do the very things we have been guilty of doing in the past. Clearing your conscience can give you freedom from past guilt, fewer reasons to get angry, and a better understanding of others.
- Acknowledge the anger of your forefathers.
If your parents gave way to anger, you may experience unexplained surges of anger also. In Exodus 20:5–6 God warns that sin patterns are passed on to future generations. It is vital to acknowledge to God the moral failures of your parents and trust God for victory over the negative influences that they may have passed on to you. (See Daniel 9:1–19 and Nehemiah 1:5–11.)
- Regain surrendered “ground.”
The Apostle Paul warns us in Ephesians 4:26–27, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” Every time you allow anger to turn to wrath, you give Satan permission to torment you. He builds strongholds of false ideas on that ground and uses those lies to torment your soul with destructive emotions such as unfounded fears, tension, depression, unexplained anger, lust, self-rejection, and pride.
- Confess the sins that caused the anger. (See I John 1:9.) Stop justifying your anger and blaming others for it. Try to trace the anger back to the sins that produced the tension and guilt.
- Claim the cleansing power of the blood of Christ over the power of sin. (See I John 1:7.)
- Ask God to take back the ground you surrendered and to enable you to tear down the strongholds of false ideas that Satan has constructed. (See II Corinthians 10:4–5.)
- Fully forgive your offenders.
Just as God forgave your enormous debt (sin), you should forgive others for the comparatively minor offenses that they have committed against you. (See Matthew 18:21–35.)
- Learn to see the potential benefits from anger-causing events.
Responding well to frustrations can build character into your life, increase your maturity, and increase your sensitivity to others who are facing similar situations.
- Place personal rights under God’s control.
When someone violates our personal rights, we tend to get angry. Can you identify which of your rights was violated the last time you got angry? Yield your personal rights and possessions to God. Then you will no longer be the owner, but rather, you will be the steward of what belongs to God.
God loves you and He takes good care of His property. When something happens to God’s property, He is able to work good through it. Surrendering your rights to God frees you from a reason to be angry, because God is trustworthy to work all things together for good. (See Romans 8:28.)
- Establish a structure of accountability.
If you are serious about conquering anger, become accountable to those around you for daily victory. Remember that God is holding you accountable too. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10).
- Purpose to walk in the Spirit.
There is a struggle to overcome anger, because even for Christians, responses to conflicts in life are often natural, fleshly responses. These fleshly responses are always contradictory to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Wrath is one of the negative behaviors that should have no place in a believer’s life, because by God’s grace we are to walk in the Spirit, producing the fruit of the Spirit. (See Galatians 5:16–25.)
When you surrender to God and obey the direction of His Holy Spirit, your life will not be marked by anger, envy, immorality, or other sins. Instead, you will abound in “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–25).
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:8–11).