Some sins feel like they stick around for decades. This is especially true for those who deal with a quick temper and outbursts of anger. You see one or both parents struggle with it, you struggle with it, and it seems like a family trait you just have to endure for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, the progress seems so slow in fighting it that you face the temptation to give up and say it’s just the way you are.
An uncontrolled temper can do untold damage to yourself and the people around you. When you lose your temper you say harsh things and act in irresponsible ways. In Proverbs, Solomon speaks often about the chaos we cause when we fly off the handle.
“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” Proverbs 11:17
“A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.” Proverbs 14:17
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” Proverbs 14:29
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”
“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” Proverbs 20:3
Because the Scriptures speak of anger as a sin that causes harm to the people around you, those who wrestle with a quick temper cannot write it off as something they cannot control. Instead, you must learn how to control ourselves and put your hot tempers to death.
What can you do to grow in controlling your temper and making progress in self-control?
Repent and Seek Grace
The Scriptures demonstrate with great clarity the sinful foolishness of temper tantrums and losing your cool. Therefore, you must repent when you sin through outbursts of anger. Confess your sin and foolishness to the Lord, asking him to forgive you through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then you must walk in repentance, running from anger and fighting against it with all your Spirit-empowered might.
Using the vocabulary of sin and repentance is necessary when dealing with anger. When you treat your anger as a sin and not just a personality quirk, you begin to take our responsibility to act seriously.
When you think pet sins have been licked is when they come back at you full bore. This is why constant immersion in the Scriptures, and particularly the book of Proverbs is essential. Solomon spoke often to his son about the foolishness of losing his temper, so reading one chapter of Proverbs every day will serve as a constant reminder of the folly of our anger and the wisdom of learning self-control.
Anything God calls Christians to do he will empower us to do through his Spirit. You don’t need to only confess our anger, but to ask the Lord to empower you to exercise self-control and flee the sin of anger. He comes to our aid when we are tempted, so look to him for the help he gives.
Also, when you pray and the Lord delivers you, you know we cannot give credit to the strength of your own will. Prayer acknowledges your need for God’s help and when he comes to your aid you know to give him the glory for your deliverance.
In order to fight anger, you need to have a better understanding of the workings of your own heart. What is going on mentally before blowing a gasket? Is there a recited laundry list of grievances you are going through or is there a constant irritant that causes the pressure to build up? Know these things, and have a strategy for dealing with them when they come up. When the situation arises and the anger begins to boil, pray and walk away.
If losing temper tantrums often comes as a result of stress, then there are practical steps we can take to address this. If stress mounts up it will blow in one way or another, and anger is a terrible way to blow off stress. Take some time to exercise every day as a way to work off stress in an acceptable manner. Also over time this will help you feel better in general and goes a long way towards helping to fight off anger.
Do you blow your top and blame it on being tired? The fix for this problem is simple- you need more sleep. You might retort that you struggle to sleep, but a fight can be waged against this problem as well. Cut out caffeine after 4:00 PM, turn off screens 30 minutes before bed, and exercise during the day so you are more tired at night. Getting plenty of sleep gives you greater self-control.
I hesitate to mention accountability because it can so often be misused or become a crutch. You must understand first of all that you are accountable to God for your attitudes, thoughts, words, and deeds. After understanding your accountability before God, it is good to seek out other Christians to help on the journey. They can ask pointed questions, correct you when necessary, and encourage you to continue on in the good fight.
What are some other steps you can take in the battle with your temper?
“Putting Out the Fires of Conflict”
For Further Reading:
Overcoming Sin and Temptation edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor
The Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio