Unmet expectations. One of the biggest causes of anger is when we have such high hopes, and then we come crashing down into reality. We’re disappointed because we don’t get what we wanted, the way we wanted. We’re heartbroken because of failed relationships; we’re just plain angry at the loss of a job or perhaps something of value that was stolen from us. We’re frustrated that we aren’t achieving financial goals while others seem to ride the winds of worldly success with very little effort.
Here’s the thing. We want. We are born wanting. We want food, sleep, and human contact. Later, we want complete control of our toys, and maybe of everyone else’s as well. Later still, we want control of our own lives even though we’re still living on our parents’ nickle. We want a car, we want all the electronic stuff, we want the cool clothes, we want a girlfriend or a boyfriend.
When the “wanter” that lives in each of us is allowed to dictate our behavior, we are bound to be angry quite a bit of the time. See, other people mostly just don’t care if our wants are fulfilled, because they’re all focused on their own. Parents, it’s very important to teach your little ones to have a spirit of gratitude, and not a spirit of discontent.
We are plagued with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:16). The lust of the flesh includes tasting, touching, smelling, and hearing. There is a strong appeal to our senses, and we crave to satisfy our senses. Our bodily appetites demand to be satisfied, and when they are not, we’re angry.
The lust of the eyes is seeing. It involves covetousness, a malicious desire for what other have that you do not.
The pride of life is thinking you are special because of who you are, what you have, what you know, or what you look like. Today, we call this a sense of entitlement. We really do seem to believe we are somehow special, set apart, and that we deserve to have everything our own way.
The Bible says we need to humble ourselves (James 4:5-8). We need to recognize that we are NOT above anyone else; that we do NOT deserve special treatment. I’ve always found it interesting that we are told to humble ourselves; we are not encouraged to ask God to humble us. It is only when we deliberately choose to submit to His authority that true humility can grow in our hearts.
We are to draw near to God. We do this by dying to ourselves every day (I Cor. 15:31), and allowing His Holy Spirit to control our wants. We are to resist the devil, and he will flee from us. To resist is not to chase or attack; it is to stand fast and firm in God’s strength.
So how dow we replace this cycle of anger? The answer is in Ephesians 4:22-24. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts: and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Let me give you my own paraphrase of that passage: In order to become contented and filled with the Holy Spirit, we need to take off our former behavior, which is the old sin nature, as if we were taking off a garment. That garment , that behavior, is corrupt because it is based on deceitful cravings and appetites. We have to be made new in the spirit of our minds, our thinking. This can be done when, after taking off the old nature, we replace it with the new nature, which is the Spirit of God, created in righteousness and true holiness.
Set aside old habits, thoughts and behaviors. Anger will go away right along with them. When we no longer allow ourselves, with the power of the Spirit, to dwell on unrealistic hopes, dreams, expectations–the anger, hurt and disappointment make a quiet exit out the back door.
We’re going to look at another aspect of unresolved anger next week, again in Ephesians 4.