“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” – Matthew 5:21-22
Jesus talks a lot about the seriousness of anger. In God’s eyes, we are guilty of the worst crime against man — murder — when we lose our temper, have a contemptuous attitude, slander another, or are overly critical. In God’s eyes, anger is on equal footing with murder in the seriousness of the sin.
So, how can we learn to control our temper? Start by recognizing the times we are most vulnerable to the sin of anger or contempt towards others. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- TIRED. When we’re tired, we tend to become angry more easily.
- DISCOURAGED. How often have we seen great athletes trying their best to win, when everything falls apart near the end of the game? All of a sudden fights break out. Why? They’re discouraged about how things are going; they lose their cool and fall into the sin of anger.
- HURT. Hurt and betrayal are two big anger triggers. Think about when a spouse discovers that their partner has been cheating, or when a close friend or colleague betrays you. Anger rises up and everyone loses his or her cool.
- FEARFUL. Imagine that a driver cuts you off on the freeway. In that moment, fear consumes you as you narrowly avoid an accident. When our life is threatened and we’re consumed by fear, we can lose our cool and respond in anger.
Here’s the point. Keep your guard up when going through a time of stress, fatigue, discouragement, fear and hurt.
And when you find yourself in those “trigger” moments and feel your temper begin to rise, ask yourself, “Do I want Jesus to hear this?” Because He will. Then ask the Lord to help you regain control and keep your anger in check. Give your fear, discouragement, hurt and exhaustion to God.
And when you blow it – because all of us do – seek God’s forgiveness. But don’t forget to apologize for the one who felt the full force of your anger. Always apologize for losing your cool. Because, there’s a big difference between confronting a person who has done wrong in love, and losing your temper in anger. Where do you fall on the spectrum?