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June 19, 2024

Understanding Anger

Question: Dr. Dobson, what do you have to say to the many people who sincerely try to control their anger, but who get irritated and frustrated and still lose their temper time and time again? How can they bring this area under control? Or is it impossible?

Answer: God dealt with my attitude over a period of several years. He gave me gentle but firm leadership during that time, chastising me when I failed and speaking to me through the things I read, heard, and experienced.

Growth in the Christian life depends on obedience in times of crisis. The believer who refuses to accept the new obligation despite unmistakable commandments from God is destined to deteriorate spiritually. From that moment forward, he begins to drift away from his Master. But, for the Christian who accepts the challenge, regardless of how difficult it may be, his growth and enlightenment are assured.

John Henry Jowett said, "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." This means that the Lord won't demand something of you which He doesn't intend to help you implement.

God doesn't expect instant maturity in each of these matters, but He does require consistent growth and improvement. The beautiful part is that we are not abandoned to struggle in solitude; the Holy Spirit "pities us as a father pities his child", tenderly leading and guiding us in the paths of righteousness.

Listed below are the aspects of anger which are most important to remember:

1. Strong negative feelings are accompanied by biochemical changes in the body, which are often set into motion by involuntary forces.

2. The word "anger" has come to represent a wide variety of emotions. Some of these feelings, such as responses to frustration, fatigue, embarrassment, or rejection may not be sinful in the sight of God.

3. Carnal anger, by contrast, is motivated by an evil nature inherited by the entire human race. It is characterized by vindictiveness, hostility, resentment, and a desire to hurt or damage another person. This reaction, whether expressed or hidden, is resoundingly condemned in the Bible.

4. A Christian can be in greater spiritual danger when he has been a victim than when he was the aggressor. Nothing justifies an attitude of bitterness.

5. Strong negative feelings should not be repressed or pushed into the unconscious mind, but should be released in a manner that is not spiritually destructive or harmful to another person.

6. Distressing negative feelings can often be pacified and eliminated by recognizing the human vulnerability and frailty of the person who offends us. This is the "Christian perspective," and can be learned with the help of the Holy Spirit.

7. Christians differ in the degree to which they manifest the characteristics of a mature relationship with God. Each willing person is led by the Holy Spirit toward greater Christlikeness.

8. There is no greater opportunity to influence our fellow man for Christ than to respond with love when we have been unmistakably wronged and assaulted. On those occasions, the difference between Christian love and the values of the world are most brilliantly evident.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5).

From Dr. Dobson's book Emotions: Can You Trust Them?

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