I know from personal experience that getting angry and staying angry can make you sick. Yes, physically ill. I’ve had times when I was so mad my blood pressure soared, my heart raced, my stomach revolted and sleep became impossible. I’m not talking about so-called “righteous indignation” (whatever that might be) or being deeply hurt. No, I’m talking about having a burning, boiling rage inside that seems to grow and fester.
Fortunately, I seldom get angry (as Steve is my witness), but when I do, I’m ashamed of how ugly I become in looks, thoughts and actions. It goes against everything I know about being Christlike and exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit in my life.
The Bible very specifically warns against it:
James 1:19-20 – “Remember this, my dear friends! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry. Human anger does not achieve God’s righteous purpose.”
Psalm 37:8 – ” Don’t give in to worry or anger; it only leads to trouble.”
Colossians 3:8 – ” But now you must get rid of all these things: anger, passion, and hateful feelings. No insults or obscene talk must ever come from your lips.”
Ephesians 4:26 – “If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.”
God knows us. He knows our human tendencies to bristle, seethe and burn inside. He also knows how harmful it is to our bodies, to our witness for Christ, and ultimately how damaging it is to furthering His kingdom.
Just this past week, I observed two women suffering ill effects from their anger. Both of them, no doubt, feel completely justified with their anger. I don’t know the whole story in either case. They may have some valid points. But, what I DO know is that they are suffering consequences because of their anger. The anger itself is doing them no good. They’ve lost their ability to see things logically and with true discernment.
Jonah got mad at God. Yes, God. Jonah was mad because God chose to forgive the Ninevites and to spare them and their city. He lost complete sight of the BIG PICTURE, and God called him on it.
Read about it here in Jonah 4:1-11 (The Message):
Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, “God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!
3 “So, God, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!”
4 God said, “What do you have to be angry about?”
5 But Jonah just left. He went out of the city to the east and sat down in a sulk. He put together a makeshift shelter of leafy branches and sat there in the shade to see what would happen to the city.
6 God arranged for a broad-leafed tree to spring up. It grew over Jonah to cool him off and get him out of his angry sulk. Jonah was pleased and enjoyed the shade. Life was looking up.
7-8 But then God sent a worm. By dawn of the next day, the worm had bored into the shade tree and it withered away. The sun came up and God sent a hot, blistering wind from the east. The sun beat down on Jonah’s head and he started to faint. He prayed to die: “I’m better off dead!”
9 Then God said to Jonah, “What right do you have to get angry about this shade tree?”
Jonah said, “Plenty of right. It’s made me angry enough to die!”
10-11 God said, “What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?”
So, anyway, I’ve been thinking about the high price you and I pay when we get angry and stay angry. I want to learn from my past mistakes. Don’t you?