Psalm 30:4-5 – Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
Proverbs 15:1-2 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Ephesians 4:26-27 – Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.
Anger is a fact of life. The dictionary definition of anger is, “a feeling of displeasure resulting from injury, mistreatment, opposition, etc. and usually showing itself in a desire to fight back at the supposed cause of this feeling.” I’ve started this lesson with the subject of anger because many times, we don’t realize that what we’re really feeling is deep-seated anger. How can we deal with something if we don’t know the root?
Psychologists have devised what they call and “Anger Curve.” Draw a straight line on the bottom of a piece of paper, Then going from one edge of the line to another, draw a curving “mountain.” Draw vertical lines in the middle of the curve. This middle section is the area for the appropriate use of anger. On the top left side of the curve, write “Acting In.” on the top right side of the curve, write, “Acting Out.” These are the titles of the two ways we deal with anger inappropriately.
ACTING IN – Anger turned inward. Within this portion of your “mountain” is chemical abuse, anorexia, suicide, psychosomatic illness, cancer, heart attack, ulcers, silence, high blood pressure, passive aggressive behavior, pouting, headaches, arthritis, overeating and the attitude of, “I’m no good.”
ACTING OUT – Anger turned outward. Within this portion is chemical abuse, murder, kicking, shouting, violence, verbal abuse, theft, vandalism, and the attitude of, “I’ll blame you.”
When we engage in the inappropriate processing of anger, we abdicate our free choice. We demand environmental controls. We stop the maturing process. When this happens, resentment, hatred and obsession rules over us.,
The appropriate processing of anger happens when we decide to take responsibility for our own life, decide to let go of the control that anger brings, forgive and grow. Of course, this is what we want to do and how we want to behave but how do we get there?
Much of a person’s anger is the result of the following root issues:
1. Unsaved. An unsaved person is easily angered because, since God “has put eternity in their hearts”. . .they know somewhere, deep inside that they are going to hell and they’re angry about it. Solution: Get saved. Of course you can’t tell them that is their root problem but you need to know this in order to know how to deal with them.
2. Lack of self-acceptance. Solution: Get in God’s word and find out what He has to say about who you are. Then choose to believe Him more than the lies in your head.
3. Lack of God-ordained authority. Anger can be the result of feeling alone in the world without parameters. Solution: Seek God for the boundaries, authority structures and accountability partners that He has for you.
An unclear conscience. After salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart. One of His jobs is to convict you of sin. Solution: Acknowledge the sin, confess it, repent and receive God’s forgiveness as well as His cleansing. 1 John 1:9
Unforgiveness. Look honestly at all the real and perceived wrongs that have happened in your life. Solution: Forgive. (More on this later.)
Violated rights. Some rights are God-given; others are cultural or perceived. Solution: Distinguish what kind of rights have been violated, then yield as unto the Lord. Only if He gives direction should you stand up for your rights. If He gives a green light, ask when, where, how, and to whom? These questions are extremely important ones to ask and wait for the answers.
Irritations. Solution: Look at the deeper issues swirling inside you.
Lack of moral freedom. Moral freedom comes when we live our lives in purity and with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Solution. Deal honestly with the root sin. (Example: A friend of mine was feeling shame over something she couldn’t get rid of no matter how often she confessed her sin. Shame is an issue of the spirit. When I ministered to her spirit, pronounced God’s forgiveness over it and encouraged it to receive God’s cleansing, God not only set her free of her shame, He showed her that the root of the sin was something entirely different.)
Lack of knowledge. When we don’t know the Word of God, we are paupers, living in poverty of spirit which can produce anger because we don’t know what to do or how to live our lives. Solution: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Lack of vision. “Where there is no vision (revelation), the people cast off restraint.” Proverbs 29:18 Solution: Find out from God what His vision is for your life, then learn to understand about the birth, death and fulfillment of a vision.
Generational anger. We are influenced by the sins of our forefathers. Solution: Ask God to forgive you of your sin and to free you from the effects of the sins of your forefathers – the ones you know about and the ones you don’t know about. Renounce the sin of anger in yourself and your bloodline and cast it to the feet of Jesus. Receive His forgiveness, cleansing and the gentleness, peace and patience of the Holy Spirit.
Resentment must first be identified before it can be fully dealt with. It has to do with bitterness, hatred, ill will, grudges and the inability to forgive. Not only must any resentment be identified, we must be fully convinced in our heart and mind that it is a sin. You cannot afford to believe or feel that you are being imposed upon when asked to do something about such feelings. If this is you, consider carefully and prayerfully the following Bible passages:
Leviticus 19:18 Romans 12:17-19 James 3:14
Ecclesiastes 7:9 1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Peter 2:1
Proverbs 14:17 1 Corinthians 13 1 Peter 3:8-9
Proverbs 19:11 Ephesians 4:31 1 John 2:9, 11
Psalm 37:8 Colossians 3:8 1 John 3:15
Matthew 5:22-24 Titus 1:7 1 John 4:20-21
Matthew 5:39 Hebrews 2:17 Mark 7:20-22
Matthew 5:44 Hebrews 12:14-15 Matthew 15:19
Acts 8:18-24 James 1:19
How to deal with resentment:
1. Identify the feeling of resentment. We can’t deal with something if we are in denial about it.
2. Identify it as sin. If necessary, review the scriptures above.
3. Make the decision to give it up, to pay whatever price necessary to get rid of the sinful feeling. How badly do you want to be set free?
4. Make a list of all the things the person did or said over the years that you feel wronged or hurt you.
5. Identify all the feelings these words and actions resulted in.
6. Renounce those feelings.
7. Recognize your part of the problem. This can be difficult if. . .
a. You think that forgiveness is saying the person did no wrong.
b. If you adopt an underlying attitude of, “I am willing and want to forgive IF they don’t do it again.”
c. You are afraid the person will repeat the same offense.
d. You are much like the person you are forgiving.
e. You really don’t want to forgive.
f. You are trying to forgive the wrong person. For example, anger and bitterness toward your adult child may be rooted in those feelings toward one of your parents.
g. You don’t really believe your feelings are a sin that hurt you and the entire body of Christ.
8. Ask the Lord to forgive you for not responding with immediate love, understanding and forgiveness.
Sometimes our resentment is a result of betrayal or abandonment. Like shame, betrayal and abandonment are emotions of the spirit. Counseling and reasoning with the mind, will and emotions (your soul) won’t make those feelings go away. Tell your soul to step aside, call your spirit to the front and to attention. Then remove the feeling of betrayal and/or abandonment from the spirit and cast it at the feet of Jesus.
Below is a handout someone gave me years ago. I don’t know who wrote it or where they found it. If you’re reading this and you know, by all means, let me know so I can give proper credit to the author. It is, by far, the best piece on forgiveness I’ve ever seen.
We need to forgive others in order to be free from our pasts and to prevent Satan from taking advantage of us. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 We are to be merciful just as our Heavenly Father is merciful. Luke 6:36 Ask God to bring to mind the names of those people you need to forgive by expressing the following prayer aloud:
Dear Heavenly father,
I thank You for the riches of Your kindness, forbearance, and patience, knowing that Your kindness has led me to repentance. Romans 2:4 I confess that I have not extended that same patience and kindness toward others who have offended me, but instead I have harbored bitterness and resentment. I pray that during this time of self-examination You would bring to my mind those people that I need to forgive in order that I may do so. Matthew 18:35 I ask this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
As names come to mind, make a list of only the names. At the end of your list, write “myself.” Forgiving yourself is accepting God’s cleansing and forgiveness. Also, write “thoughts against God.” Thoughts raised up against the knowledge of God will usually result in angry feelings toward Him. Technically we can’t forgive God because He cannot commit any sin of commission or omission. But we need to specifically renounce false expectations and thoughts about God and agree to release any anger we have toward Him.
Before you pray to forgive these people, stop and consider what forgiveness is, what it is not, what decision you will be making, and what the consequences will be.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. People who try to forget find they cannot. God says He will remember our sins “no more.” Hebrews 10:17 Remember our sins “no more” means that God will never use the past against us. Psalm 103:2 Forgetting may be the result of forgiveness, but it is never the means of forgiveness. When we bring up the past against others, we are saying that we haven’t forgiven them.
Forgiveness is a choice, a crisis of the will. Since God requires us to forgive, it is something we can do. However, forgiveness is difficult for us because it pulls against our concept of justice. We want revenge for offenses suffered. However, we are told never to take our own revenge. Romans 12:19 You say, “Why should I let them off the hook?” That is precisely the problem. You are still hooked to them, still bound by your past. You will let them off your hook, but they are never off God’s. He will deal with them fairly, something we cannot do.
You say, “You don’t understand how much this person hurt me!” But don’t you see, they are still hurting you! How do you stop the pain? You don’t forgive someone for their sake; you do it for your own sake so you can be free. Your need to forgive isn’t an issue between you and the offender; it’s between you and God.
Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. Forgiveness is costly. You pay the price of the evil you forgive. You’re going to live with those consequences whether you want to or not; your only choice is whether you will do so in the bitterness of unforgiveness or the freedom of forgiveness. Jesus took the consequences of your sin upon Himself. All true forgiveness is substitutionary, because no one really forgives without bearing the consequences of the other person’s sin. God the Father “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 Where’s the justice? It’s the cross that makes forgiveness legally and morally right. “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all.” Romans 6:10
Decide that you will bear the burdens of their offenses by not using that information against them in the future. This doesn’t mean that you tolerate sin. You must set up scriptural boundaries to prevent future abuse. Some may be required to testify for the sake of justice but not for the purpose of seeking revenge from a bitter heart.
How do you forgive from your heart? You acknowledge the hurt and the hate. If your forgiveness doesn’t visit the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete. Many feel the pain of interpersonal offenses, but they won’t or don’t know how to acknowledge it. Let God bring the pain to the surface so He can deal with it. This is where the healing takes place.
Don’t wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving; you will never get there. Feelings take time to heal after the choice to forgive is made and Satan has lost his place. Ephesians 4:26-27 Freedom is what is gained, not a feeling.
As you pray, God may bring to mind offending people and experiences you have totally forgotten. Let Him do it even if it is painful. Remember, you are doing this for your sake. God wants you to be free. Don’t rationalize or explain the offender’s behavior. Forgiveness is dealing with your pain and leaving the other person to God. Positive feelings will follow in time; freeing yourself from the past is the critical issue right now.
Don’t say, “Lord, please help me to forgive,” because He is already helping you. Don’t say, “Lord, I want to forgive,” because you are bypassing the hard-core choice to forgive which is your responsibility. Stay with each individual until you are sure you have dealt with all the remembered pain – what they did, how they made you feel (rejected, unloved, unworthy, dirty, etc.)
You are now ready to forgive the people on your list so you can be free in Christ, with those people no longer having any control over you. For each person on your list, pray aloud:
I forgive (name the person) for (verbally share every hurt and pain the Lord brings to your mind and HOW IT MADE YOU FEEL).
After you have forgiven every person for every painful memory, then finish this step by praying:
I release all these people to You, and my right to seek revenge. I choose not to hold on to my bitterness and anger, and I ask You to heal my damaged emotions. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen