Friday, March 7, 2014

Know Your Enemy

26 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.                                                  Ephesians 4:26-27

Do you have anger issues? I didn't think I did until my health went down the proverbial toilet. Actually, it was my chronic pain/fatigue that shed a very bright light on my anger issues. But, oh how I justified myself -

It's like riding a bike

You will notice in verse 26 above that the Apostle Paul doesn't tell us never to get angry; he says do not sin when we are angry. Which would you say is easier:
  1. To behave well when you are calm?
  2. To try to behave well after getting really upset?
Allow me to expound on my bicycle analogy to make my point...
The street I grew up on was at the top of a huge hill. I can still remember the thrill of riding all the way down at full speed, daring myself not to touch the brakes. It was really fun until I tried to stop at the bottom. I couldn't even slow down and almost got hit by a car!

Too high a price to pay

There is a reason the Bible tells us to keep our anger under control. If we don't, not only does it lead to very bad behaviour, it causes a multitude of health problems. For the chronically ill, anger is like an amplifier for every symptom we have because it causes stress. If we are not careful, stress can become chronic. When that happens, it's like racing down a hill without brakes - we will eventually crash.

Understanding the enemy

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.             1 Peter 5:8

Just as people in business must understand their competition, we must know and understand ours. I know calling Satan the "competition" sounds a bit far-fetched; however, he is competing for our souls, right? How does he do this? By competing for our thoughts! We are in a constant tug of war between God's plan and Satan's. Every decision we make is for one or the other. Look at the decisions you made today - whose agenda was glorified?

Think about a few of your more memorable hissy fits.  How did they start? Was it a sudden bad event, or did you work your way up to it? If you are like me, 9 times out of 10, it starts with something minor. Instead of dealing with it or letting it go, I keep thinking about it, which fuels the fire burning inside me. Then, I rally people around me who will take my side (justification is a key component), and by the time I blow up, that little molehill has turned into a big, ugly mountain!

I completely get it when the Apostle Paul voiced his frustration over wanting to do the right thing, but instead did the very thing he hated (see Romans 7:15). I want to handle issues calmly and with love, but once anger hits, all bets are off. My only solace is if Jesus could use Paul in a mighty way, then there's hope for me yet.

Living in victory

It's pretty hard to do the right thing when we are trying to do it all on our own. We need to learn how to rely on and trust God's plan. We do this by studying His Word, getting to know Him, and learning to do things His way. I use online study tools, like to help me in this area. I also listen to various preachers, like Joyce Meyer, Bobby Schuller, or Andy Stanley. They are all excellent teachers and they make God's Word relevant to my every day life.

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Are you struggling with anger issues? What steps could you take today to help you gain victory over them?