Overcoming Anger

God-given emotions are like an indicator light on the dash of a car signaling something is wrong. Covering the light with a piece of tape would be suppression. Suppressing our emotions is dishonest and unhealthy. Stuffing our emotions is the cause for many psychosomatic illnesses. Smashing the light is indiscriminate expression. Venting our rage damages relationships and injures others. What we should do is look under the hood. That is acknowledgment. Spiritual maturity is dependent upon our emotional honesty. We can’t be right with God and not be real. If necessary, God may have to make us real in order to be right with Him.

Saul was angry, because David was getting more applause than he was (1 Samuel 18). Insecure people get angry when their social status is being negatively affected. Saul certainly didn’t look under the hood, and he vented his anger on David. A little self-inventory may have prevented all of that. David was the best friend of Saul’s son. He had saved Israel from the Philistine giant, and he had successfully done whatever Saul sent him to do (vs. 5). David was secure because the Lord was with him (vs. 12). People who are secure in Christ are less prone to anger, because their identity and sense of worth are found in Christ, not in the success or failure of others, nor in the positive or negative circumstances of life.

Saul was bitter after his confrontation with Samuel (1 Sam. 15). The Lord had rejected Saul as king over Israel for his rebellion and disobedience, and told Samuel to anoint David as king. There is no evidence that Saul ever repented of his sin or forgave David for up-staging him. At the heart of angry people is a bitter spirit. Such unresolved anger gives the devil an opportunity. After venting his anger toward David, “The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul” (vs. 10). The same could happen to us if we do not forgive from our heart. Jesus said the unforgiving servant would be turned over to the jailers [tormentors] to be tortured (Matt. 18:34). The Greek word for jailer is used almost exclusively for spiritual torment in the New Testament. That is why Paul said, “I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:10,11).

Paul wrote, “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:26,27). Our spiritual and mental health depends upon how well we learn to handle our emotions. It is not a sin to be angry, but in your anger do not sin. If you wish not to sin, then be angry the way Christ was, be angry at sin.

Dr. Neil

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