Anger Creates Toxic Relationships
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19
I once nearly got into a physical altercation with a buddy . . . while arguing about church politics. The problem – beyond our collective stubbornness – was that we were arguing about something that was inherently attached to our faith. So, we were both convinced we were right and we both believed that our convictions came from God. I could have even provided scripture that supported my viewpoint. Maybe I was right and maybe I was wrong. Even if I was right, in my anger, I still acted terribly. In my anger I assumed an arrogance, using words and tone that were destructive to me and the relationship. Though it felt so right in the moment, my anger intoxicated me, nearly taking me somewhere I never intended to go.
Anger is like that. When we’re provoked, it feels so right. I’m justified! When we indulge though, it takes over, inebriating us, making us say and do things we thought we’d never would do. At work, when angry, we fire off an email that we later regret. At home, when frustrated, we say things to our spouse that we don’t mean. Once it’s done though, it can’t be taken back. Rarely does our anger take us where we want to go. Anger doesn’t build the life or relationships we truly desire. It’s like a drug. Though it feels good in the moment, it breeds disastrous consequences later.
The problem is that anger profoundly distorts our thinking. When we’re angry, we’re absolutely convinced that we’re absolutely right. As Christians, we often even believe that God is on our side and that he wants us to be angry. I have a righteous anger like Jesus! Yes, Christ did turn over tables and drive merchants out of the temple (Matthew 21:12). Jesus also fed the hungry, healed the sick, and died on a cross. We rarely try to emulate him in those pursuits. No, we claim to be like Jesus only when it’s convenient to justify our impulsive, self-destructive behaviors. God wants me to be angry!
At work, when angered by a coworker, or at home, when frustrated by those we’re closest to, we must recognize our natural impulses for what they are – self-destructive, relationship-damaging, unhelpful impulses. If we desire healthy relationships, we must first understand that anger doesn’t get us there and then, we must act accordingly. Daily, we must choose to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Anger does not take us where we want to go and blaming God for it only compounds our failure.