The Root Of My Anger

Anger sign

A loud thump, followed by laughter and more loud thumps, reverberated from upstairs.

I ran upstairs to discover my boys having a battle and throwing things at each other. “I thought I told you to get ready for bed!” I scolded, as they stifled laughter. It was like the scene in “What About Bob” when Leo Marvin catches his patient Bob Wiley and his son Siggy jumping on the beds and shouts, “All’s I want is some peace and quiet!” Giggling, Bob says, “Okay, I’ll be quiet,” and Siggy says, “And I’ll be peace!”

I was fuming like Leo Marvin. “You guys are making me mad.” “But you’ve said no one else can make you mad,” one replied. I hate it when my kids quote me. For I’ve always told them that when we get angry it’s our own sin.

It sure doesn’t feel that way though. It feels like other people or things are the cause. That driver who pulled out in front of me. My teen who smarted off to me. The boss who asks too much of me. It feels like things outside us cause our anger. Scripture says we should look within:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask (James 4:1-2).

Here’s the root of our anger: We want something and can’t get it, so we fight and quarrel.

So here’s a million-dollar question that helps expose that root: What do I want right now that I’m not getting?

When we discover our idolatrous craving, then we can repent and seek grace to change.

I once read about a pastor who was looking forward to some quiet relaxation when he got home. His wife, who’d been with their small children all day, desired some adult conversation that evening. Their cravings came into conflict and they began fighting for their desires until they both became angry. What caused their anger? Each wanted something and wasn’t getting it.

Once driving a stretch in Pittsburgh I hit every red light and started getting irritated (angry). By God’s grace I asked myself what I wanted and wasn’t getting. I realized that what I wanted was for every red light to turn green the moment I approached – I wanted all creation to serve me. I wanted to be God. I wasn’t getting what I wanted so I got angry.

So the next time you get angry, ask yourself the million-dollar question. Excuse me, I have to run upstairs – I just heard a loud thump.

Photo by Mirsasha

Comments

  1. Marshall says

    We are responsible for everything we do because God has given us each a free will. It’s this victim mindset that hurts us. As you’ve described, it’s hard (impossible actually) to escape feeling like a victim if we don’t have Christ.

    If you agree with this, do you think Christians following Christ can ever be victims?

  2. says

    Hi Marshall, Christians can be victims of other people’s sins at times and we will all be sinned against. But even when sinned against, it helps to remember that we deserve far worse – we deserve eternal punishment for our sins. It also helps me to remember that my sins against Christ are worse than anyone’s sins against me.

  3. Bill Haughery says

    Thanks Mark for another excellent post. Can’t help remembering the first time I heard anger defined by the question, What do you want that you are not getting?” It was in the late 90’s at Celebration and you said it. I have never forgotten it.

  4. says

    Thanks Bill! Now if only I could quit craving things so much….

    I have great memories of those Celebrations with you and the incredible Lancaster skit team…

  5. says

    How insightful and how true! I’ve heard the verse many times from many different versions of the Bible, but now I have a real life thing to apply it to. And I must say, I willl have to keep this post in mind next time I get angry, I do so very easily, being the hormonal teenage girl that I am. Thank you, I appreciate this post very much. :]

    -Bee-

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