Have you ever blown your top? I mean gotten up in arms, blown a fuse or a gasket, flown off the handle, or gone ballistic? I mean gotten really steamed up so that you were fit to be tied? Have you hit the ceiling or even gone through the roof? Have you ever bitten someone’s head off? Gotten hot under the collar or seen red or gotten bent out of shape? There are, I suppose, hundreds of expressions we use for one of the emotions common to all of humanity: anger.
Everyone experiences anger, but then what? What do we do with it? How do we handle it?
When Susan and I were about to be married my mother said to us, “I want to give you two pieces of advice:
- “Don’t put off living to some future time,” meaning, don’t wait to retire to enjoy your life together. Enjoy your life now because you don’t know what the future is going to hold.
- Don’t ever go to bed angry.
What she may or may not have known was that she was quoting the Bible on both counts! A portion of our scripture for this week that deals specifically with how we are to handle anger, Ephesians 4:26, similarly advises us, “Be angry without sinning. Don’t let the sun set on your anger.”
In this chapter from Ephesians, the writer is giving advice for not only how to live in harmony with other people (and, according to my mother, in marriage!), but also how to live the new life that we have in Christ. Part of living well in this way has to do with how we handle anger.
Notice that the scripture doesn’t say, “don’t be angry.” That would be unnatural; in fact, it would be just plain weird. Everyone gets angry — and sometimes for good reason! So, we’re going to be angry sometimes; even Jesus got angry. It’s how we handle that anger that makes all the difference.
Going back to my mother’s advice, I’ll have to tell you we’ve really tried to do that — and it’s made for a few really late nights in our 38 years of marriage.
So as followers of the teachings of Jesus, how are we to handle anger — and ourselves in times that “make our blood boil?”
How do we handle anger? Well, we might: fly off the handle, blow a gasket, flip a lid, chew nails, flip out, melt down, hit the ceiling, blow up or have a fit.
By the way, having a fit is a category all its own. You can either have a fit, pitch a fit or throw a fit. And, if the situation is extreme, you might even have a walleyed fit, a hissy fit, or even a walleyed hissy fit. (Sources also inform me that you better stay clear of anyone who is fixin’ to have a conniption fit.)
So, think a little bit about anger this week — and how you tend to handle it when this emotion rises.
I look forward to exploring this issue of anger and response with you this Sunday in the Sanctuary worship services.
Grace and Peace,