(This is actually an older post, but in the spirit of my new feature on book reviews, I’m “reprinting” it.)
Chapter Two of Mack’s book was also very good (I have a feeling I’m going to keep saying that for each chapter.).
Picking up where he left off in Chapter One, Chapter Two is entitled, “When Is Anger Wrong?”. He lists five more circumstances or situations when anger should be considered sinful anger.
1.) “Our anger is sinful when it involves brooding or fretting.” What does he mean by “fretting?” He writes…
“Fret is not a word we use much anymore, but it means to constantly think through distressing events in one’s mind while giving those events a negative slant. To put it in the words of Proverbs 30:33, fretting involves churning your displeasure into anger in the same way that milk is churned into butter. It means constantly dwelling on some personal slight, until what started as a small annoyance is built up into an enormous offense.”
Been there… done that. How often have you played and replayed an incident in your mind and by the time you were done, you were fuming… you were much, much angrier than when you first began thinking about it?
He writes, “…every time we play it over in our minds, the recording gets a little louder and a little stronger.” A little bit later on the same page he adds, “Like all sin, over time it begins to control [our] thinking.”
2.) “Our anger is sinful when we keep a running record of how we have been mistreated.”
Mack points out that “1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love does not keep a record of wrongs that have been done to it.”
I wonder how many of us carry around little score cards to keep up with everyone who offends us – each and every time they offend us.
Mack goes on to say that “Keeping a record of wrongs leads quickly to bitterness.”
I believe that this really is a self-destructive behavior. I also believe it leads to pity-parties with a woe-is-me attitude… with conversations with ourselves that sound like this: “Everyone is out to get me. Don’t believe me? Here’s my list.” No good can come from that.
3.) “Our anger is sinful when we pretend that we are not angry.”
Basically, this is an issue of truth-telling vs. lying. But Mack has an interesting take on how this plays out… especially in marriages. He offers the following example and draws out a principle…
“Over a period of time [of counseling a woman about a marriage issue] I discover that she is not responding in a biblical way. I know that her husband was responsible before God for what he did to provoke the problem, but I also know that she is responsible before God for prolonging the problem by her unbiblical response. There are some people who provoke trouble, and there are others who prolong trouble. In either case, whether a person is a provoker or a prolonger, that person is sinning.”
“If someone sins against us, he is wrong; but if we respond sinfully, we are wrong as well. The other person’s sin does not excuse our own.”
Which are you: A Provoker or a Prolonger?
So, how do we act in a responsible manner regarding our anger? Mack shares this good advice…
“To control my anger, I must recognize and acknowledge its presence and not play justification or denial games. I must put away lying and speak truth to myself, refusing to use euphemisms that tend to lessen the seriousness of my anger.“…I must recognize that to be hurt or upset or slightly annoyed is only different in degree from being furious or enraged. I must understand that whether I’m slightly annoyed or infuriated, I’m handling the pressures of life in an ungodly way. Having done that, I find it helpful to go on to say, ‘Lord, you already know that I’m angry for the wrong reasons and being tempted to respond to it and express it in ungodly ways. I’m confessing this to you and to myself. I take full responsibility. Please forgive me and please help me to understand what would be a godly response, and then help me to actually respond in a biblically constructive way.”
4.) “Our anger is sinful when we return evil for evil or attack the person with whom we are angry.”
There are three ways this can happen…
A.) The anger can be expressed verbally.
B.) The anger can be expressed passively.
C.) The anger can be expressed physically.
5.) “Our anger is sinful when we attack or hurt a substitute.”
This basically means that we’re sinning when we take the anger we feel toward one person and unleash it on another person.
Chapter Three is on, “Learning to Be Good and Angry.”