Six years ago, I stood before our church as we started a new message series called Healing, and introduced the sermon saying, “Hi. My name is Brandon. I’m a Christian who struggles with anger.”

For the first fifteen years of my ministry, I learned to fake it. To play the part. To look like a pastor. And things went fairly smoothly on the outside.

On the inside, however, I was shrinking emotionally and spiritually because there was a gap between the real me and the me I wanted people to see. As a result, I stuffed things. I stuffed pain. I stuffed fear. I stuffed resentment. And I thought I was okay.

Until it came leaking out. Sometimes, it exploded out, not in acts of physical violence, but in ways that would certainly create anxiety in the people closest to me.

Now, I’ve read books, talked to my counselor, and worked through a lot of issues. For me, this is still a temptation – to stuff pain, to leak out on others, to melt down emotionally instead of speaking truth to myself and handling my anger in a healthy way.

So I know about this, first hand, and I can tell you that just as with any other sin, there is hope for your recovery if this is something you struggle with. God never intended for you to live in slavery to emotions of anger for the rest of your life. He wants to set you free. But there are is something you need to know.

Anger isn’t necessarily sin, but it usually comes out in sinful ways.

The Apostle Paul wrote,

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

~ Ephesians 4:26 MSG

There may be issues over which you are justifiably angry: abuse, oppression, injustice, etc. It isn’t your sense of anger that is the problem. It’s the way we express our anger that creates issues. James put it this way:

Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

~ James 1:20 NLT

If you struggle with outbursts of anger, it’s almost always because you’ve repressed your emotions. That could be as small as having a bad day and getting really grumpy with your family because of it, or it can be as devastating as repeating generational cycles of physical or emotional abuse.

So how do you break free?

  • If you’ve had an outburst of anger, confess it to God and repent of it.
  • Dig down to the root of your hurt and pain and share it with God and trusted loved ones.
  • Live an honest life, sharing your feelings and thoughts as they come, with gentleness and kindness.
  • Forgive small offenses quickly.
  • Pray about everything that bothers you.
  • Take time-outs. Sometimes, it’s literally your heart rate that’s getting you in trouble – slow down, calm down.
  • Stay accountable. Talk to a counselor or Christian friend regularly about the issue.
  • Let go of any and every resentment. Don’t give Satan a foothold in your life.
  • Take control of your physical state. Relax your face and your muscles and breathe deeply.
  • Break any agreement with the lies that fuel your negative feelings and believe God’s truth instead.

At the end of the day, it is our holy and righteous God alone has a right to remain angry at the sin of other people, but he chooses to show grace out of his love for us. He allowed his own wrath toward our sin to be visited upon Jesus Christ on the cross so that we could be set free.

So be free indeed. Trust his grace. Stay accountable. Get help. Release it to God and he will heal your heart.

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