Aristotle had an insightful quote that was almost accurate—
Anybody can become angry—that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
I agree with most of this, but I would argue that it’s not within anybody’s power to express their anger in the right way.
The Bible says that our challenge is to not sin when we are angry (Ephesians 4:26). But most anger is selfishly provoked. That means, I’m angry because I have been offended, or my “rights” have been violated, or someone injured me.
If my anger has been selfishly provoked, how can I be expected to express my anger in any other fashion but selfishly?!?
Instead of me trying to manage my anger, I need to listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice. There is one important question the Spirit asks us (which comes from Jonah 4:9)—
Do you do well to be angry?
- Is it good for me to be angry with this? or should I let this go?
- Is my anger righteously provoked? or is it selfishly provoked?
- Does this grieve the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:10)?
God’s Spirit within you is never silent. He will either confirm that your anger is righteously provoked (as it was with Jesus in John 2:13-17), or it’s selfishly provoked (as it was with Jonah). That’s why you must ask yourself that question and allow the Holy Spirit to help you answer it: Do I do well to be angry?
If you answer “yes,” and the Holy Spirit confirms this in your heart, then He will help you to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way (as Aristotle said).
And if you answer “no,” the Holy Spirit is the only one who can help put out the flames of your anger in a healthy way.
So don’t try to manage your temper. Listen to the Holy Spirit asking you, “Do you do well to be angry?” And let Him guide you from there.