Anger: Attacking The Problem Not The Person


Your spouse leaves articles of clothing on the floor...again.  You child tells you 'No!' or worse, you discover that someone has 'lied' about you.  Then it happens.  You feel your blood pressure rise.  You..are...angry! 

So what should you do with that anger?  In Ephesians 4:26 the Bible says, “Be angry and do not sin.”  Anger is sometimes the emotional response to wrongdoing because it indicates that one has perceived a wrong doing.  But the Bible reminds us to 'be angry and sin not.’ In other words, in our anger, we are not to sin. God is not impressed with our anger (James 1:20; Matthew 5:22).    

Jack Kinneer, author of How To Grow In Christ, (Copyright 1981, P&R), offers us words of wisdom.  When it comes to anger in our marriages, he writes, “Solve problems by attacking problems, not your spouse." This principle applies to all of our interpersonal relationships.  Granted, there are some circumstances that will involve civil authorities, but even then we are to do everything we can to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18).      

If you've been wronged you are to be ready to forgive the wrongdoer (Eph. 4:32; Colossians 3:13-15).  We are to be ready to 'cover a multitude of sins' (I Peter 4:8).  However, if you can't 'cover' the sin, meaning that it must be addressed for the relationship to continue, then go to the one who has done the wrong.  Graciously spell it out for the person (Matthew 18:15).  When you handle the situation biblically, you will have already identified the specific wrongdoing or 'sin,' and be able to communicate to the person that their action has harmed the relationship.  If he or she admits wrong doing and asks forgiveness, then you are bound to forgive the person. 'So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them' (Luke 17:3). In order to do this graciously, you will need to realize that you are not free from sin yourself (Matthew 7:1-5).  To grant forgiveness is not only biblical, it takes great humility given by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:20-22).   

What if you are the one who has done wrong?  There are no loopholes with God. You are to take action.  You are to go to that person, confess the offense and seek his or her forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-24).  In addition to saying 'I'm sorry', you are to ask the one you've offended for 'forgiveness.' 

Remember this. The pattern for our forgiveness is God's forgiveness!  When God forgives, He doesn't hold it against the person in the future! (Isaiah 43:25) He forgives completely and graciously-we do not deserve His forgiveness! (Eph. 2:8-9) This is why Jesus is called the 'Prince of Peace,' (Isaiah 9:6), because it is only through Him that we have peace with God (Romans 5:1)

So when your wife makes you late, when your husband leaves his dirty pants on the floor, when your child ignores your simple command, and your parents loose their cool, what are you going to do?  Will you scream?  Will you recite the recurring list of wrongdoings?  Will you attack the person, or will you attack the problem and seek reconciliation? If you are unwilling to forgive, then the words of Jesus should cause you to pause.  He says that if we are not willing to forgive the one seeking forgiveness from us, then neither will we be forgiven by His Father in Heaven (Matthew 18:34-35).