What's in Your Cup: Self-Control vs. Anger

Posted by Carla Collier on 02/20/2012
 

A cup filled to the brim with sweetness cannot spill one bitter drop, no matter how suddenly it is jarred.

Amy Carmichael (1867-1951, Irish missionary)

  What's in your cup? What spills out when you are jarred?   If you are like me, you can probably remember occasions when angry or bitter words splashed out like scalding liquid burning those nearby, and the feeling of regret that words spoken cannot be erased and harsh words leave scars. As women we have a powerful and far-reaching influence. Lori Merrill says in the Called to be a Keeper Bible study, You and I have been given the gift of being able to set the tone and mood in our homes through our attitude. I love how she refers to this as a gift. This is part of our calling as a Keeper! What kind of tone are you setting in your home? Peaceful, gentle, and forgiving or stressful, harsh, and vengeful?   This week in our series* on health, we want to explore what the Bible says about anger vs. self control. Anger is an emotion that we all feel from time to time and while it is not wrong in itself, it can lead to sin. We know that anger is not wrong because the Bible tells of times that God and Jesus were angry, and the Bible says that they are without sin. (See Mark 3:4-5, John 2:13-16, 1 Peter 2:21-23 and Revelation 4:8 for example.) The anger of God is directed at sin because He is holy. There are times that we feel this kind of anger when we see evil in the world; other times our anger is a secondary emotion as a result of frustration or hurt. We need to be careful that in our anger we do not sin:   Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27   Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19,20   But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:8, 12-13   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25   These verses give us very specific keys to be able to have self control over our anger:  
  • Do not let the sun go down on your anger.Deal with problems as soon as possible, do not let them fester and grow. A root of bitterness cannot grow when seeds of anger are not allowed to germinate.
  • Give no opportunity to the devil.The devil would love to use our hurts and frustrations to gain a foothold in our life...don't let him! Take every thought captive to the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.Be a good listener, think before you speak (maybe even count to ten!), be patient: don't just react, respond. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
  • For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.Our goal needs to be honoring and glorifying God in the midst of conflict ... not venting, speaking our mind or getting something off our chest. (see also Ephesians 4:29)
  • Put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Put on then compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another. Just as we choose what clothes to put on in the morning, our attitudes are a choice!
  • Forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Forgiveness is a gift we have received from God and are commanded to share with others.(See Matthew 18:23-35)
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. The most important key is to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit; in our own strength we will fail but if we allow the Holy Spirit to direct us we will have victory and fruitfulness. Pray each day that the Holy Spirit will help you to have self control and that God will give you wisdom to handle the hurts and frustrations of life in a way that honors Him.
  Sometimes past wounds and scars that have never fully healed can cause us to have a cup full of bitterness. In their book Intimate Encounters, Dr. David and Teresa Ferguson address this concept of emotional capacity. They explain that when we are filled up with "unhealthy emotions such as bitterness, resentment , anger, guilt, fear and anxiety" we will exhibit stress and we are prevented from feeling positive emotions. If you struggle with anger, or know someone who does, I would highly recommend their marriage conference and book. Additionally, Christian counseling can be helpful with uncovering root causes of anger and addressing them.   God desires to heal and restore your soul, He binds up the brokenhearted and wants your cup to overflow with goodness and love (Psalm 23). I pray that you will allow Him to begin this process of healing and refilling today.   (Carla and her husband Clyde have seven children and will celebrate 25 years of marriage this year. She enjoys tennis, reading and writing. Carla serves as the website editor on the Keepers Ministry Team.)
 

To read previous articles in this series look in the Health/Fitness category.

 

*I would like to thank and give credit to the Ministries of Jesus (MOJ) Clinic, a ministry of Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, OK, for the Wheels of Health idea and illustration, which is based on the book God's Design for the Highly Healthy Person by Walt Larimore, M.D. (www.DrWalt.com ).

For more study on the topic of Anger vs. Self Control we recommend:

  Week Seven, Day 2 of the Called to be a Keeper Bible study by Lori Merrill  

Other resources that we recommend are:

  God's Design for the Highly Healthy Person by Walt Larimore, M.D. (www.DrWalt.com ) Intimate Encounters by David and Teresa Ferguson (www.GreatCommandment.net) The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande (www.peacemakerministries.org)          

2 Comments

Alesa Campbell Says:
February 20th, 2012 at 10:26 am
I love that cup quote! Beautiful article with great scriptural reminders for us to remember when experiencing anger. Thank you Carla for addressing such a difficult subject!

Lori Says:
February 20th, 2012 at 7:06 pm
Great article Carla! Thank you!
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