“From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires” (1 Peter 4:2 (GNT).
Our feelings are a gift from God and can be used for His glory or ours. It is fine to have and express feelings. The problem occurs when our feelings begin to control our life rather than God’s will.
Our feelings of frustration, anger, etc. are often a result of not obtaining something we desire. There is a recurring theme throughout Scripture of the inherent battle in man between the desires of the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh may want a new house or a new boat. There is nothing inherently wrong with these things and if the Spirit wants you to have these things, you will.
One of my favorite promises from Scripture is found in Psalm 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” As we begin to move closer to Christ, we also begin to desire the same things that He desires. It is important to remember that God is not Santa Claus. God will give you everything that you need (2 Thessalonians 1:2), but he will not give you everything that you want. This is particularly true if you are not following the first part of Psalm 37:4. God wants us to delight ourselves in His ways, not our ways. If we are truly delighting ourselves in God, then the evidence (fruit) will be manifested in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Just as blood in the water can attract shark, so can anger in your heart attract the enemy. Ephesians 4:26-27 warns that anger opens the door to the enemy. “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Jesus certainly was angry at times, but He never did allow himself to sin.
Our minds are a battlefield because our thoughts can originate from God or the enemy. How can we tell who is the author of each thought? When we are angry, or feeling any range of emotion, we can “take each thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) by asking ourselves a few questions.
“What is really going on here?” A strong feeling of anger may be because there is residual resentment from some unresolved issue. If you had a bad day at work, then that frustration can be transferred to your spouse. Maybe you are not happy with how an issue has been handled at home, so this anger is carried over to other interactions with your spouse. Maybe a parent, teacher, or friend said something years ago that that struck a nerve and when someone today says something similar, your overreaction is really a demand that they pay for that past offense.
“Is it true?” Is what you’re feeling at that moment true? Anger and fear can often cloud our judgment. The enemy will introduce angry thoughts into your mind to cause you to feel alone, marginalized, misunderstood, or unappreciated. As you separate yourself from others and from God, you are more vulnerable to further negative emotions. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah gets so discouraged that he complains, “God, I’m the only one in the entire nation of Israel left serving you.” This was false, but it was his truth. God’s truth regarding our identity is found in Ephesians 1. Please, go read it.
“Is this feeling helping me or hurting me?” Another way to ask this question is – will you get what you want by continuing to feel this way? For example, if you want a new car and don’t have a new car, it is self-defeating to continue to feel angry month after month. Your anger will not expedite the delivery of a new car or motivate somebody to buy you a new car, but it will make it much more likely for you to sin (Ephesians 4:26-27).
It is normal and healthy to feel angry when you are not happy with a decision. It is also normal and healthy to “find your voice” and express your anger to your spouse. However, at some point you are denying reality if you feel that the key to obtain what you want is to continue to express your anger. If you hang on to anger, you allow yourself to miss the blessings of the present and future. Now, that is something to be angry about! An attitude of gratitude is much more beneficial than an attitude of anger.
Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the gift of emotions. Forgive us for our emotions that dishonor you. Give us the wisdom to seek out the origin of our anger and the courage to boldly lay it down at the foot of your cross. Amen.