Anger is increasing in our nation.
Much anger is hidden behind issues and masked in silence.
Silent anger is a more significant threat than hostility displayed.
Many people are not only angry, they are more hostile than they were a year ago, according to an NBC/Esquire survey last month — particularly Republicans (61%) and white people (54%), but also 42% of Democrats, 43% of Latinos and 33% of African Americans.
Christians Are Angry Too
We are watching the most significant shift in our culture. America was once a nation where our neighbors were our best friends. Not so today.
We have neighbors polarized by issues, political parties and incivility.
Ninety - three percent of Americans say we have a civility problem, according to Dr. Jim Denison, CEO of Denison Forum.
We see a lack of civility in our government, social media, schools, colleges and in public places. Without blowing out this fuse, social anger will explode in our public places.
Can We Turn Our Anger Around?
It is not the first time our nation has struggled with anger.
In 1977, James Averill, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, sent the residents of Greenfield, Massachusetts, a questionnaire in the mail. The first question: "Try to recall the number of times you became annoyed and/or angry during the past week."
Averill never expected the results to be so eye-opening. The transparency and the buy-in of the citizens were surprising. Replies flooded Averill's mailbox.
Another shocking discovery was that people attached a thank-you note to Averill for sending the questionnaire.
The recipients were more than willing to talk openly about their anger issues. Could this strategy work for our generation? Sure, couldn't hurt.
Summing up his research in American Psychologist, Averill wrote:
In the vast majority of cases, expressing anger resulted in all parties becoming more willing to listen, more inclined to speak honestly, more accommodating of each other's complaints. People reported that they tended to be much happier after yelling at an offending party. They felt relieved, more optimistic about the future, more energized. "The ratio of beneficial to harmful consequences was about 3 to 1 for angry persons." Even the targets of those outbursts agreed that the shouting and recriminations had helped. They served as signals for the wrongdoers to listen more carefully and change their ways. More than two-thirds of the recipients of anger "said they came to realize their own faults."
The response from the survey was astonishing. The respondents in the Averill survey landed in a healthy space by sharing their anger openly. This was a key step in overcoming the anger danger.
Aristotle said, "Anybody can become angry — that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way — that is not easy!"
Therefore, God's Word tells us to be "slow to anger" (James 1:19).
The command to be "slow to anger" reveals there is anger we have permission to express.
The Bible also distinguishes between man's anger and God's anger. The book of James says, "the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).
So, the Scripture separates the righteous anger of God from the unrighteous anger of humanity. Knowing the difference requires discernment and patience.
Because when we are hurt, disappointed, betrayed or rejected, being angry feels right and justified. But this kind of anger is from the soul. Anger expressed from the soul is man's anger. Man's anger is expressed selfishly. The anger generated from our soul is self-centered and from an emotional impulse.
We should check ourselves before becoming angry with others. The Scripture provides sound advice on the best way to view our human anger.
"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord" (Rom. 12:19, NIV).
Righteous anger is the way that God expresses His anger toward injustice, malice, cruelty and wickedness.
Anger expressed from our Spirit is righteous anger. When we express our anger with the equity of God's wrath, our indignation is righteous. Being angry over child molestation is understandable. Expressing anger in a godly way is the struggle.
"'Be angry, and do not sin': do not let the sun go down on your wrath" (Eph. 4:26, NKJV).
We have primarily used this verse to deal with marital issues. It reaches much further than marital arguments and a man sleeping on the couch.
God does not want anger to set up in our hearts or to develop in our character or spirit. Anger is only permitted when sin is not attached.
Let's deal with our anger effectively and the way the Scripture purveys.
Thomas McDaniels is a pastor/writer and the guy behind thomasmcdaniels.com. He has written for ChurchLeaders.com and currently is a contributing writer for Fox News. He is also the founder of LifeBridge.tv and the Longview Dream Center in Longview, Texas. Thomas can be found on social media, Instagram and Twitter.
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