Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Anger & Stress Management God's Way

Several years ago I took an "anger management" class for Christians at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Raleigh, NC, which was held at the church one night a week for several weeks.

The book used was called: "Anger & Stress Management God's Way" by Wayne Mack. 

Dr. Mack tells us not just how to handle anger but the root causes of anger. By doing this, he helps us better understand why our reactions to stress and its accompanying anger are usually the result of "not getting what we think we need."

I was skeptical when I took the class...because quite frankly I wondered how much a "class" was really going to help me when I wasn't even sure "why" I was angry. 

Well, that first night of class...BOOM...there it was: 

...if you are a Christian, 
you and all you have and are 
(your rights included) 
belong to God!!!

You are not your own. 
You belong to Him. 

1 Cor. 6:19 ~ Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

Romans 12:1 ~ Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Psalm 24:1 ~ The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;


Chapter 1: Sometimes it's Right and Sometimes it's Wrong to be Angry

"Is it always a sin to be angry? Some people sincerely believe that it's always a sin to be angry. From childhood, they are taught that it was wrong to express anger in any form. Yet there are others that seem to believe that anger is never sinful--unless it's directed at them.

For example, some parents will not tolerate their children expressing anger at them or each other, but will quickly excuse their own anger towards their children. There are husbands and wives who have one standard for themselves and another standard for their spouses. A man once told me that his anger against his wife was always justified. These people think that anger is wrong mostly when it's someone else's anger, but not their own.

The truth of the matter is that anger is sometimes sinful and sometimes righteous."

Dr. Mac told of an incident in his own life:
"Some time ago, I got on an elevator and made an effort to be friendly to another person riding with me. I gave the man standing beside me a cheerful "Hello" and asked him, "How are you doing today?" The man ignored me; he never blinked an eye or acknowledged my greeting. He never answered my question. He just flat out ignored me. My reaction to his lack of response was a bit of irritation. I thought, "Who does he think he is, treating me like that?" I interpreted his non-response as a put down and a slap in the face. In my sinful pride, I started to become angry."
"I assumed that I had a "right" to be acknowledged, and that he was denying that right. When I was denied that perceived right, I experienced... anger. I thought I had a right for him to recognize me. I thought I had a right for him to treat me as though I was worthwhile, as though I was important enough that he should at least respond to me... That kind of response is sinful, selfish anger. ...it has its roots in the soil of pride and selfishness..."
"When children fail to do something exactly as their parents want them to do it, even if their actions are no definitively sinful, parents sometimes become angry. After all, they think, "Children are supposed to obey and show respect to their parents. And the fact that they didn't do something exactly as I wanted them to do shows disrespect." Never mind that the Bible says, "love suffers long and is kind...love is not provoked" (1 Cor. 13:4-5). Their children have not treated them the way they want to be treated. So they become peeved and upset and openly express their annoyance to their children. When that happens, the parent's anger has nothing to do with what is best for the children. It's simply due to the fact that they're not doing what they want them to do. They become upset because, as the boss of their home, their "rights" are being denied. That kind of anger is sinful, selfish anger."
"Our anger is always sinful when it's caused by our selfishness. Whether we have had our feelings hurt, or we are jealous, or we are not getting recognition, or we believe that our "rights" are being denied, all these things lead to sinful, selfish anger."

Dr. Mack wants us to consider the following Application Questions:

What does the issue of rights have to do with sinful anger?

Which of the following do you consider to be your "rights"?
  • Right to have and control personal belongings
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to have and express personal opinions
  • Right to earn and use money
  • Right to plan your own schedule
  • Right to respect from others and to be obeyed by others
  • Right to have and choose friends
  • Right to belong, be loved, be accepted
  • Right to be understood and to be treated fairly
  • Right to make your own decisions and determine your own future
  • Right to be successful
  • Right to have good health
  • Right to date/be married
  • Right to have children
  • Right to be considered worthwhile and important
  • Right to security and safety
  • Right to travel
  • Right to have the job you want
  • Right to a good education
  • Right to be a beautiful person and to be desired
  • Right to have fun and to be free of problems
  • Right to raise your children your way

Which of these "rights" are you being denied, and by whom?

Discern which "rights" you think are being denied or neglected when you start to become angry. 

Do you think you have a right to be "respected" and is that why you are becoming annoyed at someone when that person doesn't show you respect?

Do you think you have a right to be "appreciated" and is that why you are becoming resentful toward someone who has criticized you or not shown appreciation toward you?

Think through the list of "rights" listed above and identify the ones that are most important to you; also reflect on how you tend to respond when these so called "rights" are withheld from you.  

Consciously recognize that, if you are a Christian, you and all you have and are (your rights included) belong to God (1 Cor. 6:19; Romans 12:1; Psalm 24:1). 

You are not your own. You belong to Him. He knows what you really need (Phil. 4:19).

Trust Him to take care of His property.

Cease to think in terms of your "rights" and concentrate on God's will and purpose and promises.

Make it a point to specifically dedicate your "rights" to God on a regular basis.

Turning your so-called "rights" over to God doesn't mean you must become a doormat. 

It doesn't mean that you never make your desires known, or that you never oppose, rebuke, insist, exhort or seek to correct a person. 

It does mean that you seek to do what you do in a biblical, God-honoring fashion and that you do it for biblical, unselfish reasons, out of biblical, God-honoring motives.

It does mean that after you have done all that you may legitimately do, you leave the results with God and believe that He will bring to pass what is right and good for you.

It means you believe God's promise that those who fear the Lord shall not lack any good thing (Psalm 34:8-10).

It means that you must fulfill your biblical responsibilities and then be content to leave your "rights" to God.

It means that you will choose to think of what you formerly considered as "rights" as PRIVILEGES.

Our anger is sinful when we allow our anger to control us. (Prov. 16:32; Prov. 25:28)

These verses are warning us against being people who are controlled by their spirit, which is partly the emotions, rather than being in control of their spirit.

We usually find it easier to allow the emotion of anger to control us, rather than maintaining control of our anger. 

How often have we heard someone say (or said it ourselves), "I was so angry, I just couldn't help myself!"? What are we saying? 

In reality, we are excusing ourselves for being out of control, and from the actions that resulted from our anger.

We are claiming no responsibility for what we did because we were at the mercy of our anger. 

The truth, of course, is that our actions were sinful.

Anytime that we allow our anger to control us, we are sinning.

Our anger is sinful when it becomes the dominant feature of our life.
If other people's first impressions of us are that we are touchy, irritable, or easily annoyed, then we may have a problem with sinful anger.
If we find that people seem to be constantly "tip-toeing" around us, it could be an indication that we have a chronic problem with sinful anger.

In summary, anger can be godly and constructive or it can be ungodly and destructive. When God expresses anger, it's always righteous. When we express our anger, it's often--if not usually--unrighteous.

In our study of anger thus far, we have learned that...
  • anger that occurs for sinful reasons, such as jealousy, is sinful anger
  • anger that controls us--causes us to act out of passion--is likewise sinful anger
  • anger that is the dominant feature of our lives is sinful anger as well

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