Dying to Anger
by Dr. Dominic Dixon
“God has been very good to me, for I never dwell upon anything
wrong which a person has done, so as to remember it afterwards.
If I do remember it, I always see some other virtue in that person.”
Saint Teresa of Avila
Mark 11:25 says that whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have
anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven
may forgive you your trespasses.”
Anger - The enemy within
Most secular psychologists do not consider the notion of sin, instead
they eliminate the concept of sin. In doing so, they do proclaim
that they do not have a need to repent. Therefore, let’s deal with
this issue from a psychological and spiritual manner.
Anger is a term for the emotional aspect of aggression, as a basic
aspect of the stress response. Any of the following if ruptured can
cause anger to set in. Acceptance, Anticipation, Boredom, Disgust,
Envy, Fear, Guilt, Hate, Joy, Jealousy, Love, Remorse, Sorrow
and Surprise. Anger may be ‘provoked’ or ‘triggered’ by perceived
threats, like conflict, or by abstract concepts such as injustice.
There are many physical conditions that increase the potential for
one to become angry. Common contributors to irritability include
fatigue, hunger, being in pain, sexual frustration, or recovery from
an illness. Other causes are hormonal changes, such as those
associated with PMS (Pre menstrual syndrome), giving birth, and
menopause, physical withdrawal, and bipolar disorder. Research
also shows that some individuals can be genetically predisposed to
higher levels of anger.
Suppressed anger and un-forgiveness are killers of love, joy, health,
happiness, loving relationships, family harmony, success and
prosperity; a killer of everything that we inherently desire,
everything that is good, lovely and fair. Control of our anger is not
enough. As long as we control our anger, we still have it. What we
really need is freedom from our anger. We develop many
characteristic traits while we grow up. Adam and Eve were the
only two humans that were adults at creations, and they did not
have to go through birth, adolescence and everything in between
While growing up we inherit many feelings, emotions and
behaviours that are happy and sad and those developments make
us into what we are. There are two characteristic traits, one is
inherited at birth and is what we receive from our parents, the
other is what we develop as we grow up at home, surroundings,
school, etc., which is acquired.
Marah – Bitterness
Exodus 15:22-26 Then Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea,
and they went into the wilderness of Shur; they went three days
in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah,
they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter;
therefore it was named Marah. And the people murmured against
Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD;
and the LORD showed him a tree, and he threw it into the water,
and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a
statute and an ordinance and there he proved them, saying, “If you
will diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD your God, and
do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his
commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the
diseases upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the
LORD, your healer.”
Many Christians, become bitter and murmur at the Church and at
the Lord when situations or circumstances don’t go the way they
would like it to. Grumbling is the opposite of thanksgiving. “Have
no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to
God.” Philippians 4:6. This bitterness leads to pride and envy – a
feeling devoid of God and His mercies. Sometimes the marah
experience is good, it makes us realize that God is who He says
He is and we are who He says we are. These experiences should
draw us close to the Saviour and seek His face.
But the Word of God says: “There is therefore now no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1.
“Since, therefore, we are now justified by His Blood, much more
shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.” Romans 5:9
“And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing
evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death,
in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable
before him.” Colossians 1:21-22
Forgiveness has been described as an attribute by which one ceases
to feel resentment or to carry a grudge against an individual or a
group for a wrong he or she has committed against oneself.
Forgiveness can be granted with or without the other asking for
forgiveness. Christians believe that persons can forgive themselves
for any guilt that they might have against themselves such as an
act of abortion. That it is possible to forgive groups of people, for
it is possible to be forgiven by God, the very reason Christ had
come into this world. Forgiveness is recognised in Christianity as
a spiritual blessing and mercy of God. Spiritual forgiveness does
not necessarily have any connection with material or financial
forgiveness. One may spiritually forgive another, yet expect that
the other should still make material or financial amends. Christ
Jesus is the source of all forgiveness, which is made possible
through the suffering and sacrifice on the Cross.
Forgiveness can be seen as a religious value. However, secularists
say that belief in a deity is not necessary for forgiveness. It can be
motivated by love, philosophy, appreciation for the forgiveness of
others, empathy, or personal temperament. Even pure pragmatism
can lead to forgiveness, as it is well documented that people who
forgive are happier than those who hold grudges. However this is
humanistic, if the source of love is not from God, it can have
ulterior motives and can be conditional and counterfeit.
Psychology of Forgiveness
In the last decades, forgiveness has also received attention from
social and secular psychologists. Although there is no consensual
psychological definition of this concept in the research literature,
many researchers assume that forgiveness is related to a pro-social
change of attitude and health linking with interpersonal motivations
towards another person who has committed an offence. Specifically,
three secular and three spiritual changes in motivations are thought
to occur when someone forgives an offender:
- An increase in motivation to act in ways that benefit the offender
or the relationship with the offender.
- A decrease in motivation to take revenge on the offender.
- A decrease in motivation to avoid the offender
- An increase in motivation to seek God
- An increase in motivation to attending Church and prayer groups
- Reconciliation between man and God.
Forgiveness is necessary for civilization, since without it, all wrongs
would demand revenge, which may themselves be taken as wrongs
requiring revenge, resulting in a spiralling escalation of retaliation,
leading ultimately to utter destruction.
Forgetting – a journey that ends
One of the most blessed things in being a Christian is the grace of
forgetting past hurts and wounds. Paul says in Philippians 3:13.
Beloved, I do not consider to have made it on my own, but this
one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward
to what lies ahead.
The Greek word for forgetting is epilanthonamai (ep-ee-lan-than’-
om-ahee) meaning, ‘to lose out of mind’. Paul was saying that he
loses the past as he removes it out of his mind and this is done
only with divine intervention; this is why he says that he does not
consider to have made it on his own.
The Greek word for behind is opiso (op-is’-o) meaning back in
time or place. Paul did not worry about the past, he broke away
from the past and all that it carried. He did not bother about the
place where he was hurt or the people that hurt him. He just left
it behind. In Philippians 3:8 …For His (Jesus) sake I have suffered
the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that
I may gain Christ. In our lives many times we get hurt by several
people. For example a girl who was hurt or treated badly by her
father or may be was sexually abused. If she has not dealt with
that hurt and set herself and her father free from the bondage of
unforgiveness, she tends to carry that pain on to her husband when
she gets married and that will have an effect on the marriage. If
perhaps the father had called the daughter an idiot at all times with
those words causing pain and grief to this child. If she is not being
able to react to that hurt, the hurt will sit in her mind all through
her growing up. When her husband casually calls her an idiot, her
mind reaches to the unconscious repository and pulls out the hurt
caused by her father which will cause her to react to her husband
in an absurd or hurtful and even vengeful manner.
That is why it is important to leave all behind and surrender it to
the Lord and ask for healing and deliverance. People say that time
is a healer; time is never the healer. God is the healer and He gives
us time to deal with our feelings.
The Greek word for straining forward is epekteinomai (ep-ek-tinom-
ahee) meaning to stretch forward or reach forth. Philippians
3:16 only let us hold fast to what we have attained. We have
attainted salvation through repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
In the same way, we need to forget the past and keep looking
Forget what others have done to you. We cannot say the wound
is healed but the scar remains. Forget what others have done to
you, when we forgive, we don’t forget the person, we only forget
the hurt. We need to make conscious efforts.
Forget what you have done to others. We so often live in guilt and
unforgiveness. We need to repent. The meaning of repentance is
brought out in the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15. While
sitting in the midst of pigs, he remembered his father and said I
will go back to my father’s house and ask forgiveness. He decided.
He got up and went to his father’s house. He realized that he had
sinned against God and his father. He got up, and he did not sit
in the same pit that was destroying him. The pit that we sit in is
a reservoir that’s filled with hurt, anger, envy, pride and all the
rotten fruits of the evil one that cause a stench in our lives.
We need to recognize and act upon it. We need to confess our
sins. 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, He who is faithful and
just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The Greek word for confess is homologeo (hom-ol-og-eh’o)
meaning to speak out or acknowledge.
Confession however is not repentance. We need to repent and
forsake our wrong doings. Proverbs 28:13 says, No one who
conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and
forsakes them will obtain mercy. The Greek word for forsake is
azab (aw-zab’) meaning to commit not to do it again or refuse to
do it again.
The main source of our conviction and mercy is only from God.
The Greek word mercy is racham (raw-kham’) meaning to obtain
love, pity and compassion.
We then need to be washed from our sins and iniquities. I John 1:7
says that the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins. The Greek
word for cleansing is katharizo (kath-ar-id’-zo) meaning to purge,
blot out and eliminate. The Greek word for all is pas meaning
whole, completely and thoroughly. The Greek word for sin is
hamartia (ham-ar-tee’-ah) meaning faults or offence and hamartano
(ham-ar-tan’-o) meaning offence, trespass or not to share the prize.
This is what Paul means when he said in Philippians 3:14 I press
on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call. Therefore
sin disqualifies us from receiving the prize, but repentance takes
us forward to the goal set for us towards receiving the prize. In
summary, we need to understand that the Blood of Jesus cleanses
us from ALL SIN, not just some of it, and we need to get out of
the guilt mode.
If the Son of Man sets you free, you are free indeed.
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Copyright © Dr. Dominic Dixon. All rights reserved.