What Am I Missing When I Get Angry?

What Am I Missing When I Get Angry

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One of the more natural temptations for me to yield to is sinful anger. But it might not look like what you expect. It manifests in subtle ways that may not be perceived by others. And when I choose anger, I’m missing something significant.

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When most people hear the word anger, they have a picture similar to Bobby Knight, the former men’s basketball coach for Indiana University, throwing a chair across the gym floor. Bobby’s bouts with anger are well-documented in the sports world. When I say that I get angry, I am not talking about that kind of fiery emotion.

But I have gotten angry in many other ways, which is why it’s missing the mark to criticize those who use sinful anger differently from how I do. Here are a few examples of how anger has manifested in my life.

  • Impatience
  • Lack of Forgiveness
  • Frustration
  • Gossip
  • Criticalness
  • Uncharitable Judging
  • Unkindness
  • Slander
  • Silent Treatment
  • Harsh Tones
  • Rolling of Eyes
  • Sinfully Comparing Myself to Others
  • Putting Down Others
  • (See the Anger Spectrum Infographic Below)

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you (James 4:1)?

James asked an insightful question regarding anger and the need to think more deeply about this problem.

Another way of asking his question is, “What am I missing when I get angry?” Or “What is it that I am not applying to my angry heart?”

My anger informs me that something is missing in my life that motivates me to emote in ways that do not spread the fame of God, or benefit my other relationships.

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What Am I Missing?

In a nutshell, that missing thing is Christ dying on the cross for my sins. When I forget this central truth of the Bible, I am apt to become sinfully angry at someone. (For a clear portrait of a madman who ignored the gospel, read Matthew 18:23-35.)

It is in those moments before I yield to the temptation of the sin of anger, that I need to inform myself of what I am missing in the gospel. Below are some relevant statements that I have often used to “tell my heart” to neutralize sinful anger.

(It is best to inform yourself of these things before you are angry. It is wiser and more beneficial to enrich your soul during the peaceful times preemptively, rather than waiting until the moment of need to preach the gospel to yourself.)

Implications of the Gospel

The more I preached these “gospel implications” to myself throughout the day, the better chance I had of living under the control of the gospel’s power rather than submitting to the strength of sinful anger.

  • God resolved the most significant problem in my life at the cross.
  • I have no reason to be angry with anyone because of God’s overwhelming kindness to me through the cross.
  • Because of the power of the gospel, I can now overcome my anger.
  • It is easier to forgive others as I reflect on God’s forgiveness of me through the cross.
  • The gospel implies that I am guilty of killing Christ. There is nothing that anyone can do to me that is worse than what I did to Him.
  • The gospel implies that I was a murderer (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
  • The gospel further proclaims that I am no longer guilty (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

Because of the Father’s mercy to me through the cross, I now have the power of the gospel working in me, and for me so I can live in its ability. This new gospel-centered life is profoundly contrary to my sinful anger.

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Controlled By Anger Controlled By the Gospel
Impatience Patience Toward Others
Unforgiveness Ready to Forgive
Frustration Contentment
Gossip Telling Good Things About People
Criticalness Finding Good in Others
Uncharitable Judging Comparing Myself to Christ
Unkindness Kindness
Slander Praying For Others
Silent Treatment Quick to Reconcile
Harsh Tones Kind Tones
Rolling of Eyes Self-Control
Sinful Comparisons Recognizing the Log In My Eye
Putting Down Others Encouraging Others

Call to Action

  1. In what ways do you yield to sinful anger? The “Anger Spectrum Infographic” (below) may give you some clues.
  2. Make your own “Anger v. Gospel” list, and write out specific and practical responses that you can implement into your life.
  3. At the heart of sinful anger is a self-righteous attitude. Watch this 10-minute video (below) on how self-righteousness is the culprit to sinful anger.

Other Helpful Resources

The Anger Spectrum

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