Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Thank you. It seems impossible to believe that this simple "proper manners" element that we were likely taught as a child has the ability to directly impact our sin of anger. In teaching us to say, "thank you," our parents, intentionally or unintentionally, were teaching us humility. Refusing to say thanks is an act of pride. It says, "what you did for me is actually what you should have done for me and it is something that I deserve!"
Believing that we deserve something or that we are owed something, is fundamentally a heart issue of pride (at the very least). Humility never sees itself as being owed anything!
Jesus provides us an incredible example of this humility. He, the Creator and eternal God, walked among men and they failed to acknowledge Him. Those who followed Him often only followed Him for what they could get from Him. John 6 is one of the clearest pictures of this. Jesus confronted the people for only following Him for the "free lunch" rather than being the Son of God.
I remember many years ago reading a book that spoke about my love for God. The author questioned whether I loved God for who He is, God Himself, or if I loved God for what He could do for me? I was deeply convicted that my love for God was rooted more in what He could do for me than because He is God. It was evident because I was continually looking for the "next thing" that God was going to do for me rather than rejoicing in all that He had done or in Him. I have had to learn to be content with God and to trust Him even when He does not grant me my wishes or the things that I think I need when I think that I need Him. This is an ongoing lesson, and I find it shameful that I actually can say that I have to learn to trust God and trust the One who is always good and has already done so much. I am much like these "bread-mongers" that challenged Jesus by saying, "we will believe you if you give us more bread!" I am the same way!
So how does this link to anger? Have we ever found ourselves angry with God because He did not respond as we anticipated or hoped? Anger is demanding and is nearly always linked to our demands not being met. Others do not act or do what we expect, they do not treat us with the respect we feel we deserve, they do not respond according to our timeline, they do not control themselves like we do, they do not meet our standards of morality, they do not consider us with the proper feelings, etc. These responses are linked to our pride. Pride and anger link closely together just as humility and grace are tightly knit.
We need to continually remember what we were before Christ and the ongoing work that He is doing in our own lives to form us into His image. We have not met His standard, but rather than responding in anger to our failures, God pours out grace upon grace. Because we have received this grace, we are free to respond in humility and grace to everyone around us. Anger forgets God's grace or believes His grace is deserved in some way. Anger cannot say thank you because it wrongly believes it is owed what it receives.
How are we saying "thank you" to God and others? How are we responding in anger to God and others?