“I was madder than a wet hen!” This is a slang term I like to use about anger. It isn’t very becoming, and it is rare that I get really angry, but this incident pushed my limit. A group of Christian leaders decided to take a weekend holiday at our home on the lake. There were not many restaurants on our side of the lake, therefore George and I frequented one in particular. The restaurant usually employed young women in high school as waitresses and we would get to know them. On this particular night the restaurant was busy, but our group was seated quickly. While we were laughing and telling stories, a young girl came to take our drink order. We paused to answer and a few of the women kept changing their order. By the time the drink order was finalized, even I was confused. The drinks came and of course there were mistakes, which was no big deal.
The waitress proceeded to take our food order and once again some of the women kept changing their order and made it very confusing. Due to the crowd, our appetizer came a little late and the drinks had not been refilled. When the appetizer finally arrived, one of the women made a snide remark to the waitress concerning the time it took. When our food arrived, I was again not surprised some of the orders were wrong, but some of the women turned into two-year old’s and threw temper tantrums. They began to rail at the waitress to the point that tears filled her eyes.
My mouth dropped open at their rudeness. Enough! I could not stand their actions any longer and my anger flared. I slammed my hand down on the table and chastised them for how they treated the waitress. I quickly found her and apologized on behalf of our group. At the end of the evening, the sweet waitress received an apology and a big tip from everyone. The Golden Rule states, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
This was not the only time I had dinner with fellow believers and experienced their rudeness. I wonder what servers think when they overhear our conversations about the Lord or see us bow our heads to pray after they have been spoken to so offensively. “And so the tongue is a small part of the body yet it carries great power!” (James 3:5 TPT)
I am certainly not perfect, but as Christians, we are to emulate Christ. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2 NLT). His perfect will is to be kind, have patience, and speak in love. How much mercy does the Lord give us when we make mistakes? More than we deserve.
Many times, we need to stop and think about our words before we say anything at all. Ask yourself, how will my words impact that person? And, how will my actions reflect on my witness? When I was on staff at a church, it was amazing how some women spoke down to me as if I worked for them instead of the Lord. One day George came home from work and told me how a well-known Christian man spoke angrily to one of his employees. I wanted to cover my ears because I had admired this man. We are to “set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1Timothy 4:12).
Many times, Jesus could have lashed out in anger, especially when the Pharisees tested Him and Peter failed him. But Jesus consistently spoke with truth and grace to those around Him. When His anger flared at unrighteousness in the temple, He turned the tables and drove the money lenders out. (Matthew 21). This is righteous anger.
- Righteous anger is always self-controlled.
- Righteous anger is not reactive. Stop before speaking to calm yourself.
- Righteous anger is not vindication.
Unfortunately, I did not display righteous anger in dealing with my friends that night. I “stewed” until the anger began to build. I retaliated and was reactive. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV).
Wrong anger opens the door to the enemy. It causes division between you and whomever you have lashed out at. It is also sinful, causing a misstep in your walk with the Lord. I apologized to my friends and asked for forgiveness for my harsh words spoken in my outburst. I am thankful for my friends’ convictions. They understood why I reacted as I did, and they apologized too. The devil did not get a foothold by putting enmity between us. The weekend ended with fun and great memories.
My charge to you is to make every effort to ask God to help you deal with angry feelings before they explode and possibly cause damage. Ask the Lord why your response was such a sore point to cause unwanted anger. Ask for forgiveness of the outburst said in the wrong manner. The Lord has set a standard for us to live by. “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NKJV).
Lord, I know unrighteous anger can cause disruption in relationships. Many times I need to control my tongue before speaking without the internal stewing. I ask you to show me what pressure points cause me unrighteous anger. Help me learn how to respond to situations that cause anger whether it is righteous or unrighteous. Lord, I never want to cause another to stumble in their walk with You. Nor do I want a non-believer to be turned away from You because of my actions. Thank You for Your mercy in dealing with me and having patience. Amen.