Anger: The Third Deadly Sin

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I don’t get mad. I get even!” Wait a minute! To get even doesn’t a person have to get mad first? Vengeance is a by product of anger; it is an angry person’s attempt at regaining what he feels has been stolen from him. We become hostile when we think that our rights have been violated or that we have lost something that we have the right to keep. The loss may be a person, a goal, an object, or in many cases, our own self-esteem.

But, a person who holds grudges and is obsessed with vengeance harms himself more than he/she may realize. Gandhi once said:“Following the philosophy of‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ would leave the world filled with blind, toothless people.”

Most anger is caused by not getting our way and is always self-seeking. The process goes like this: Someone says or does something unexpected that hurts our feelings. Many times we are taken off guard and aren’t prepared with a good come-back. The embarrassment causes us to create scenarios of the things we should have said, or the things we should have done; we resolve to go in punching the first chance we get.

Resentment builds up in a person’s heart as a result of feeling unjustly humiliated, unloved, misunderstood or unappreciated. Bitterness is inner resentment; a fertile breeding ground for anger’s offspring. Anger gives birth to brawling, slander, murder, and every form of malice leading to trouble of all kinds. History has shown that the emotion of anger burns away all reason and compels man to take destructive action. The early church leaders of the Middle Ages named seven evil dispositions that motivate most of the evil in the world. Anger is third on the list of the‘Seven Deadly Sins.’

A symptom of anger is something I call‘toxic tongue.’ Words that spew out from a wounded heart can cut like knives; injuring someone’s mind and spirit. Angry words have long-lasting and negative consequences that may ruin a relationship overnight. It takes years to gain someone’s complete trust and confidence and only one moment full of angry words to break it down. Once angry words have entered someone’s mind they can’t be retrieved. Although some people are quick to forgive hurtful remarks they will not easily forget; because when hateful words hit their mark they always leave a scar. What is unleashed in a fit of angry passion exposes something ugly that’s been hiding in the dark corners of our hearts. People are never quite the same around us after they’ve seen our monsters.

A poisonous seed takes root in our hearts when we clench our mental teeth around a bitter incident, chew on it again and again, and intentionally internalize it—a mind full of resentment and bitterness contaminates the good in us in more ways than one. Anger is always self-defeating and self-destructive. Anyone who has been enraged enough to hate knows that there is little rest for a troubled mind. There is evidence that anger causes chemical imbalances which are linked with arthritis, asthma, heart disease and cancer. A person who can’t take their vengeance out on their perceived attacker will turn their anger inward and suffer emotionally as well. Depression is anger unexpressed; it’s a joy-killer. When anger turns inward it wreaks havoc on the mind, hindering a person from effectively participating in life.

Such character imperfections are not productive traits. It’s time for all of us to grow up and learn how to deal with life’s obstacles without resorting to emotional outbursts. The first step toward maturity is to eliminate the things in ourselves that displease God and cause us problems. To get an anger issue under control…

Desire to submit to God’s will instead of your own.

Don’t take everything as a personal attack. It isn’t really all about you. Other people have bad days too.

Put others needs first before yours. Giving your attention, love, care, skills and talents for the benefit of others out of love for God.

Commit to love others as you would like to be loved. Don’t expect to get what you are unwilling to give.

Don’t expect anything in return for the good things you do. False expectations will disappoint you, filling you with resentment.

Learn to reel in your emotions before they overtake you.

Take full responsibility for your behavior without blaming others or trying to justify your anger.

Stop resenting others for not reading your mind. Communicate.

Talk about your feelings calmly; don’t point fingers, cuss or throw fits.

Watch people’s reactions to your behavior and words. Make needed adjustments.

List everyone who has offended you. Forgive them.

List everyone you’ve offended. Ask their forgiveness. If no longer possible, forgive yourself.

Stop running from your problems. Confront the reasons why certain things make you angry. Deal with past issues that are affecting your present.

Be patient with yourself. Change is a process that takes time.

Ask God to help you overcome your stinkin’thinkin.’

Think about this…your body, your time on earth, your talents, your abilities, and your loved ones all belong to God. Whatever is in your possession is a privilege that God has allowed you to enjoy. Rights can be violated. Privileges can’t. Now ask yourself…

‘Do I really have a right to be angry?’

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