Lies about Anger

The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog references something I have been reading lately. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book, magazine article or blog post I have or am reading.

I spent some time yesterday working through David Powlison’s pamphlet Anger: Escaping the Maze where he gives some helpful pointers on how to control our anger not get caught up in sinful anger when life doesn’t go our way.

The most helpful part of this twenty-eight page pamphlet is when we tackles three common misconceptions about anger:

LIE #1 – Anger is something inside me. He explains that anger is not a thing but a moral act. We wrongly use phrases like “pent up” or “blow off steam” or “boiling mad”, which suggests that anger is some kind of substance that when pressurized will explode. If you accept that anger is something inside you, then the treatment would be to simply remove it. Since anger is more volitional than physical, the treatment is within the soul or heart. It is not an organic problem that can be treated by physical means.

LIE #2 – It’s okay to be angry with God. We wrongly interpret the psalmist’s complaints and frustrations with God as a template for how we can express our anger towards God. Powlison writes, “The psalmists are dismayed because they know and trust that God is good, because they love him, and because they struggle to reconcile his promises with their present struggle. The psalmists move toward God in honest faith, wrestling with their circumstances. But people angry at God shove him away.”

LIE #3 – My big problem is being angry at myself. We get angry at ourselves because we don’t live up to certain standards and they are often our standards. Getting angry at sin is more than permissible but getting angry at ourselves because we are not meeting our standards, while leaving God’s standards out of the equation, is misguided.

I would commend this short pamphlet to you as a helpful resource and quick reminder for anyone who needs a primer on why we get angry and what to do about it so we don’t displease God with this reaction.

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