“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78,79)
One day a husband asked his wife what she would like for Christmas. The wife said, “The one thing I would like is for you to get help with your anger.” Thankfully, the man humbly set himself to get her the gift she wanted.
All the pleasant moments in our homes and relationships are marred by those times when outrageous and ugly anger breaks out. Such episodes have a traumatizing effect on all involved. Unbridled anger inflicts great and often long-lasting damage. Jacob cursed the anger of his sons that led to so much carnage. “Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel …” (Genesis 49:7)
When anger spills forth, when rage finds expression, it harms all in its path. Like a river that has overflowed its banks, wrath has people fleeing for safety. It drives people away. It is the main cause of domestic abuse and through fear of more terror causes the abused to contemplate an exit strategy. Who wants to live with a ticking time bomb?
We not only destroy others through our “madness,” we ruin our own lives. “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:12-14) An angry person is not a peacemaker. They only ever stir up strife. “An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.” (Proverbs 29:22)
If we would be a blessing to all those around us we will need to “pursue peace.”
If we would be a blessing to all those around us we will need to “pursue peace.” This means we will need to get serious about departing from the evil that our anger begets. We will have to stop blaming our anger on others. We will need to take responsibility, not only for our actions, but for our reactions. We will have to commit to keeping our tongue from evil, and that starts with a decision to never curse or use foul language when we are angry. No situation we face ever justifies ungodly wrath. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).
Apologizing for an outburst is good, but people will want to know that we have looked square in the mirror and are aware of the bigger underlying problem. They will want to know that we are taking steps towards change. The first and biggest step is repentance. Change has no chance of happening when we won’t even recognize our wrong. From there God can begin to help us. Patterns of behavior don’t change overnight, but as we are willing for God to show us why we get ticked off we will come to understand what makes us tick. We will grow in our understanding of ourselves and all of humanity, to whom anger is such a common temptation. We will learn how to resort to God in our most trying moments, letting Him keep us from all ungodliness as we abide in His secret place. Instead of removing our hearts far from God, we will learn how to draw near to Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth. We will discover His rescue from the sin that has so easily beset us and we will be given hind’s feet for our high places.
As we are considering what to get others this Christmas, why not give them a gift that would bless them perhaps more than any other. May our homes be merry indeed this time of year, and not filled with sorrow and woe. God help us to change at the deepest level of our being. That’s why Jesus came. That is His gift of salvation to us.