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Am I an Angry Person?

11 December, 2009

100_8531-corcpicsmall I wouldn’t describe myself as an ‘angry’ person – but what about a person who often gets frustrated, upset, irritated at people or situations? According to Carole Mayhall, that means I’m angry. She writes the following in a book my wife’s really enjoying right now, Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: Speaking the Truth in Love:

When I memorized Proverbs 13:10, the lessons bombarded me. It says, ‘Only by pride cometh contention’ (KJV). I thought, Wait a minute here! Can this possibly mean that whenever I feel contentious, upset, angry, it is due to pride? That’s hard to swallow…. It began to dawn on me that except for righteous indignation – anger about sin committed against someone else – my anger did indeed stem from putting me and my feelings first.

Seen in this way, my irritations really are the result of circumstances running up against my pride; my frustration is lodged in not getting my own way in the providence of God (but not my providence!). Unrighteous anger is what happens when a proud sinner lacks self-control.

Anger is an emotion just as sadness, joy, and fear are emotions. Many people say that an emotion is neither good nor bad – it just is. I won’t argue that point. It is, however, very clear in Scripture that the godly way to handle anger is with self-control: ‘In your anger do not sin (Ephesians 4:26). Oh, my friends, there will be no exception to this rule. When we scream, rant, get hysterical, say vicious things – whenever we lose control – we sin against God and man. One fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23), control of our tongue, our emotions, the tone of voice we use, our facial expressions, and our actions.

As we all know, anger usually manifests itself in our mouths and issues in all sorts of harmful conflict (Prov 15:1). It’s telling in this regard, as Mayhall, notes, that James 1:19-20 ties together slow listening, quick speech, and quick anger with unrighteousness:

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

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3 Comments
  1. Donna Ellis Burrell permalink
    12 December, 2009 1:53 pm

    Thanks for “keeping me straight” on that issue…I struggle with it at times and need a reminder.

    • Robin permalink
      29 December, 2009 6:58 am

      The phrase: “emotions are neither right/wrong, they just are” meaning they have no moral connection is popular psychology and contrary to Jesus’ teaching: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Matt. 15:19

      Of course, Scriptures says more on the subject.

      I wait for the day when thinking Christians use their understanding of the Imago Dei to reclaim the truth about the human condition and not succumb to Pop/Psych myths.

      Meanwhile, it is good, right, true for the Christian to be “furious” at sin and death (according to Calvin and Holy Scripture.)

      Just some additional ponderings…

      • 29 December, 2009 10:21 am

        Robin~

        Thanks for the comment; I actually think you and Mayhall agree. She doesn’t think our ’employment’ of emotion is ever neutral, because we’re not neutral — good tree good fruit, bad tree bad fruit. What she’s saying is that emotions in and of themselves are neither right nor wrong, because they’re simply human. What’s right or wrong is the person employing those human emotions toward righteous or unrighteous ends. Mayhall is quite antagonistic to pop psychology.

        She also agrees with you (and Calvin) about being furious at sin and death, what she calls righteous anger, giving the example of Jesus throwing over the money-changers’ tables in the temple.

        As often happens, my small snippet of her work may have skewed what she says as a whole; I hope this helps clarify,

        ~B

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