By sis Shanice Soh
What do people do when they are annoyed, frustrated, or provoked constantly by others? Chances are they retaliate by being mean, spiteful and vengeful. If such feelings of annoyance are not kept in check in the early stage, it will fester. Over time, one will be easily provoked, embittered which will then manifest in frequent flashes of anger, regrettable outbursts of words, damaging actions and sinful deeds.
We know God permits anger but forbids sins (Ephesians 4: 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.) However, it is quite challenging not to sin in times when we are bursting with anger and when we tend to react to our explosive emotion with equally fiery words or actions. We need to, therefore, make a commitment to control our anger. Proverbs 16:32 says, “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.” This verse extols the value of self-control and shows that temper can be tamed. Anger management is not just about reining in our emotions, but also our thoughts and bodies. Apostle Paul talks about subjecting our every thought to the obedience of Jesus Christ in 2 Cor 10:5. When we do so, we certainly progress towards the self control that Christ was the best example of. Those who do not exercise self-control are likened to “a city that is broken down, and without walls.” (Prov 25:28).
The bible teaches us to be slow to wrath (Prov 14:29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.) We need to be patient so that we don’t get angry easily. Patience is becoming rare in today’s fast-paced world where people want instant gratification. People become testy when they are caught in a traffic jam or when they are not being attended to as fast as they expect. Nevertheless, we are instructed to be patient and to forbear others in love (Ephesians 4:2).
Love will mould us to be patient and self-disciplined when dealing with others. The love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13 will shape our thinking and attitude which will in turn make us act in a Christian-like manner and not sin when situations that tend to arouse anger present themselves.
In cases when we have been wronged, we are inclined to focus on our emotions and ourselves as being victimized, and to conjure ways to strike back at the perpetrators. But ‘love seeketh not her own’ (1 Cor 13:5). Love banishes evil thoughts so that we are not easily provoked (1 Cor 13:5). Love helps us to be longsuffering and kind (1 Cor 13:4). Such agape love is a form of love which includes commitment and mindfulness. It does not only rest on one’s heart and emotions.
When we get upset with someone because of their failures and shortcomings, often times it boils down to pride, having the ‘I know it all’ or ‘I’m better than you’ attitude. However, “charity… vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up’ (1 Cor 13:4) Instead, love clothes us with the humility to esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) and to forebear one another (Ephesians 4:2).
Fruit of the Spirit
In closing, it is important to remember the need to bear the fruit of the spirit. Love, longsuffering (translated to mean “patience”) and self-control are three of the characteristics of the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) which will help us manage our anger and prevent us from sinning.
To bear the fruit of the spirit, we need to walk “after the spirit” (Romans 8:5) and that means setting our minds on spiritual things. There is no better way to mind the things of the Spirit except to dig into God’s Holy Word. Apostle Peter encourages us to be diligent in acquiring the Christian graces - ‘add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love’ (2 Peter 1:5 – 7) And when we build ourselves up in this way, we can assuredly echo the words in 2 Peter 1:8.
“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”