Our Armor of Anger

samuel-zeller-364234Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. ~Proverbs 22:24-25~

I have discussed the issue of anger in previous posts (here & here). But I wanted to look at it from another angle because one view will not sufficiently uncover the kaleidoscope of complexities that we call the “human nature.” Have you ever considered that anger just goes beyond a reaction of a situation we deem unfair or unjust? As Ed Welch says, “you have been anger’s victim.”[1] I am not arguing for the victim mentality, but I am saying that each of us have been on the wrong side of anger’s bite. Perhaps a parent or an adult we grew up with was extremely harsh, malevolent, or abusive (physically or verbally). Maybe you have been berated by someone and have carried the scars from their tongue’s lashing. It doesn’t matter in the end, we’ve all felt someone else’s wrath. But what do we do with that?

Under the surface of our skin, our armor which is made up of who we’ve become, we are often dealing with scars that leave us feeling vulnerable, weak, scared, or alone. The first thing we’ve got to do about anger (theirs) is to understand that it truly is wrong. It was sinful on their part (and on ours if we are an angry person). We must not minimize it or throw it in the back of our mental storage cabinet. We’ve got to deal with it. But what happens when we don’t really deal with it?

Have you ever listened to yourself when you get angry? By chance, do you sound like someone you know or used to know? I have noticed as I’ve gotten older that I sound more and more like my parents (I hope I’m not the only one!). There is a reason for this; things from our past have a way of leaving an imprint on who we are. Some would argue that the way we process our reality is based upon how we observed others doing the same as we grew up. Similarly, it can be said that how we respond to a situation we do not find favorable; a situation in which our anger is flared and our emotions fly, was something we learned. The truth is, it is easy to let the culture of anger we have learned in our past creep into our present lives and becomes much more than an unpleasant echo of our past. It becomes a shameful reality. We become the person Solomon is addressing in Proverbs 22:24-25. We have entangled ourselves in a snare of anger which is almost impossible to be free of. We can misplace our anger on the innocent bystander, on our family, or lay it upon the shoulders of our children who will end up carrying the same scars we are talking about. We make them pay with a quarrel we have with someone in our past.

But there is hope. We are told in the Bible that we have a sympathetic God (see Hebrews 4:15-16). Anger is a yoke that strangles; not just us, but possibly others too. Jesus invites those who are “weary and heavy laden” (see Matthew 11:28-30) to come to Him for rest. Remember how I said that anger was the “snare which is almost impossible to be free of”? Well, for us it is impossible, but not for God. We are a self-centered people who have turned our noses up at God. Anger is just one avenue of us venting this reality. But there is freedom in Christ. That yoke which is heavy can only be lifted by the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. Instead of unleashing the acid of anger on others, have you turned to the One who understands? Have you gone honestly to Him and told Him what you are dealing with? What scars are you covering with your own veneer of anger? Where has it left its mark upon your life? God already knows you were the on the receiving end of someone else’s anger, why not take off the armor of anger, and begin to deal with the issues on your heart?

[1] Welch, Edward T. A Small Book About a Big Problem: Meditations on anger, patience, and peace. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2017.

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