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Confession of an Angry Professional

Anger is one of those respectable, often hideable sins. We shake our heads at those few colleagues who occasionally lose their temper. How can these people be so unprofessional? we wonder.

Yet, anger is expressed in many ways: bitterness, complaints, excessive criticism, or even silence. For the Christian, none of these more acceptable forms of anger are in any way acceptable!

  • “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you” (Eph. 4:31).

BUT–you might exclaim–what about when we are merely reacting to the injustices around us, like the foolish things our bosses waste our time on, or the ways those we serve do not value us as they should? Isn’t there such a thing as righteous anger?

There sure is! Jesus expressed it frequently. But fallen people rarely have that Jesus-type anger. We’re not often angry about how the injustice goes against God’s Kingdom–when it gets down to it, we’re just mad because it goes against us! The rarity of good anger is why the Bible repeatedly says things like:

  • “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).
  •  “Men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” (1 Tim. 2:8).
  •  “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you” (Eph. 4:31).

So: I confess that, even though I rarely lose my cool at my workplace, I often do possess anger. Whether its expressed or suppressed, it’s not good.

In his article “Killing Anger,” John Piper gives some great tips for… well, killing anger:

First, ponder the rights of Christ to be angry, but then how He endured the cross, as an example of long-suffering: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

Second, ponder how much you have been forgiven and how much mercy you have been shown. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32)

Third, ponder your own sinfulness and take the beam out of your own eye: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:3–5).

Fourth, think about how you do not want to give place to the Devil, because harbored anger is the one thing the Bible explicitly says opens a door and invites him in: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:26–27).

Fifth, ponder the folly of your own self-immolation, that is, numerous detrimental effects of anger to the one who is angry — some spiritual, some mental, some physical, and some relational: “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (Prov. 3:7–8)

Sixth, confess your sin of anger to some trusted friend, as well as to the offender, if possible. This is a great healing act: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

Seventh, let your anger be the key to unlock the dungeons of pride and self-pity in your heart and replace them with love: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4–7).

Eighth, remember that God is going to work it all for your good as you trust in His future grace. Your offender is even doing you good, if you will respond with love: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4).

Ninth, remember that God will vindicate your just cause and settle all accounts better than you could. Either your offender will pay in hell or Christ has paid for him. Your payback would be double jeopardy or an offence to the cross: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom. 12:19). “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting his cause to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

Finally, let me recommend a book: Uprooting Anger. Any good idea in this article that wasn’t John Piper’s was probably from that book!

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About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at TeachingtheCore.com. He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

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