One of the founders of the Biblical Counseling movement said that anger is involved in over 90 percent of all counseling cases. In my experience, I’m not sure what the 10 percent might be in which anger is not an issue.Because we want to have our way, we are tempted to play God in our hearts to judge and punish people.
All of us struggle with anger. James says that we have desires in our heart and when these are not met we are tempted to be murderous. We know from what Jesus says in Matthew 5 that to be angry in your heart is murderous. To say unkind words to others is murderous. Because we have a desire to have our own way we are tempted to play God in our hearts to judge people and in our hearts to punish people.
The word of God provides life transformation. This is really for the angry person. That transformation really begins fundamentally with the gospel; to realize that it’s not my calling to punish people for the things they do that I don’t like. God is Judge. As Joseph said to his brothers, “I’m not in the place of God.” James says, “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” “God is Judge; I am not. Furthermore, I am a person who has received much mercy.”The grace of the gospel to us empowers us to overcome our anger.
When we’re angry, we’re like the unmerciful servant who is choking his fellow servant saying, “Pay what you owe,” and yet we have been forgiven the ten thousand talent debt to the blood of Christ. Paul tells us to be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other as God in Christ has forgiven us.
The grace of the gospel to us empowers us to overcome our anger. It empowers us to put out the fires of anger by remembering that the wrath of God was turned away from us through Christ. He wants us to be gracious to others as he has been to us.
It is the Gospel that enables us to be new people instead of being fleshly with outbursts of anger. We can bear the fruit of the holy spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. That is what the Lord does in the lives of believers when he gets hold of us. Then, we recognize he is the one who is in control. We are not. We can trust him. And so, as we trust him we can be at peace.