Updated: Jul 6, 2021
What's Your Plan? Are you a planner or do you tend to "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants?" I am not a great planner and the reality is that while I love flexibility and I like to leave my options open, "f-b-t-s-o-y-p" does not really work well for me. I am more of a "hoper." I hope that everything will get better, I hope things will repair themselves, I hope that things will come together, etc. I should be clear, this is not anything like the spiritual hope that Paul often speaks of...this is the earthly, fleshly hope. It is a wish!
Because anger is a reoccurring sin issue that does not go away just because we hope it does or wish it to, we need to have a plan. The reality is that anger left unattended will take root producing all sorts of undesirable fruit such as bitterness, wrath, malice, hatred, division, strife, fighting, bullying, broken relationships, isolation, etc. As we consider plans, we need a plan that will deal with more than the anger itself since anger is only the presenting issue. We must deal with the heart of anger. This is where secular attempts to address anger (i.e. medication, venting, padded rooms, meditation, therapy, blame shifting, blame sharing, etc.) fall short. They will mask the problem at best and may provide a measure of tolerance, especially for those who have to deal with our anger issues, but they will not and cannot deal with our heart issue. It is like a weed in our yard or in the cracks of our cement, until we deal with the root (heart) issue, the weed will simply return and often with additional weeds and in additional locations.
So what's the biblical plan, the plan that addresses the heart? Know this, God desires to address the heart of our sin problem. He has spoken to us and provided relief. We must confront sin with determination (Matthew 5:29-30), but self-determination and commitment will not resolve our heart issue. James 4 (as we have been looking the last few days) gets to the heart of the issue. James 4:9 calls us to be wretched, to mourn, and to weep over our sin. He further calls us to allow our laughter be turned to mourning and our joy to gloom. Sin is not to be taken lightly. Sin is serious and we must have a serious spirit when we look at our sin of anger. A casual and light spirit about our sin will result in continued defeat.
We must turn to God in humility. There are not three or five steps to eradicate sin from the heart, but there is a way of humbly living in dependence upon God that will begin to unravel the grip of sin that we have allowed to take control of our heart. Our plan must include these elements at the very least. 1) We must be humble before God (James 4:10). This is a continual acknowledgement of our sin against and before God. It humbly acknowledges our sins rather than pointing our finger at the sins of others. 2) We must acknowledge our own helplessness (Romans 7:18). We cannot face this on our own. 3) We must confess our sin to God. This comes with humility. We acknowledge our turning from God and our sin against Him (Psalm 51:1), but we also acknowledge (confess) Jesus Christ as having dealt with our sin once and for all which allows us to live in the forgiveness that God has provided through Christ (1 John 1:5-10). 4) We must confess and ask forgiveness for the specific sins that we have committed against others (James 5:16). This is not just "I am sorry." It asks, "will you forgive me for my sin (name our sin) against you?" 5) We must depend upon God to continue His work of transformation in us through His Spirit. 6) We must continue in this humble life before God.
What is our plan for addressing our anger?