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Dealing With Our Problems Biblically: Anger, Part 4

April 28, 2015

Grace to you! So far we’ve seen that our hearts are the reason for our anger. The desires we have, whether for evil or wanting something good too much, produce anger in us. (See James 4:1-4) Our call is to desire Christ more or in place of what we currently desire. So what does this look like in a real life situation?

Remember, we have to understand that Scripture calls us not to merely break bad desires and habits but to replace them with godly desires and habits. This is called the ‘put off, put on’ principle. First, we discern what our desires are that motivate us to do certain actions. Then we ‘put off’ the lies of our desires with the truth of God’s word and ‘put on’ the motivation to live for Christ’s glory. This new motivation then helps us ‘put on’ new actions. The result is that we live a life that honors God and allows us to love our neighbors as ourselves rather than responding with sinful anger.

Let’s take a common example. Scripture tells wives to ‘respect their husbands.’ (Ephesians 5:33) As a husband, I know from God’s word that men desire to be respected by their wives. And this is a good thing. However, problems can still arise in me depending on how my heart and its desires respond to this good commandment. How so you ask?

As a husband, I desire for my wife to be obedient to the Lord. But the problem comes when my desire to be respected becomes something I demand I have from my wife for my life to be meaningful. Let’s look at this closer. The commandment is written to wives, not to husbands. So if I as a husband begin to demand that I be respected, I’ve changed the focus from her glorifying God to me getting the respect my heart wants. At this point, my desire for respect, which in itself is a good thing, has now become a sinful craving that I want to serve only my interests. Why is it sinful? Because I have taken a good desire and now have let it rule me. Jesus is the only One who is to rule my heart.

So since my wife doesn’t respect the way ‘I desire in my heart’, the result is that I’ll get angry at her. I’ve set up my own standard about what it means to be respected because I’ve made the commandment more about my desires being met rather than my wife obeying Jesus.

How do I counter this? Again, a good desire has to take a back seat to honoring Christ. I honor Christ by realizing that ‘respecting me’ is a commandment for her. It’s not my opportunity to browbeat her into giving me the respect I think I deserve. Anger shows a good thing has become an enslaving desire. Love Jesus and good things will not become ultimate things. Because when good things become ultimate things, they become bad things!

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