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Anger's cousins.


The experts debate whether or not anger is a primary or secondary emotion. It's a basic but circular argument: do our other emotions ignite anger in us, or does anger activate and inflame those other close relative emotions? It's certainly not a case I'd be prepared to argue. It's way over my pay grade. But, I do note in Scripture that when God inspired the Bible writers to record instructions about anger he also taught them the close association between anger and several other dark side emotions. In my simple thought process they are anger's cousins, emotions and actions that typically visit us when anger comes calling. Like anger, these behavioral kin are elements of our human nature. In Scripture they are often referred to as works of the flesh.


A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Proverbs 29: 22, ESV


Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry,

sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,

drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that

those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5: 19-21, ESV


Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,

along with all malice.

Ephesians 4: 31, ESV


But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk

from your mouth.

Colossians 3: 8, ESV


I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger

or quarreling.

1 Timothy 2: 8, ESV


So, here they are, angers many cousins:


strife transgression sexual immorality impurity

sensuality idolatry sorcery enmity

jealousy fits of anger rivalries dissensions

divisions envy drunkenness orgies

bitterness wrath clamor slander

malice obscene talk quarreling


You see, anger unleashes emotional, physical, and spiritual responses in our life systems. The synapses are firing, sending stress hormones throughout our bodies, shunting blood away from our inner systems to our muscles, energizing us for physical exertion. Our heart rate increases, blood pressure and respiration are quickened, and our fight or flight instincts are activated. Many health issues result from uncontrolled anger management. The cousins often amplify the emotional and physical aspects created by outbursts of anger. Many of them are next phase amplification of the provocation that lit our fuses. They wreck our human systems, relational integrity, what is best for the people around us, and of course, our own self-esteem and view of the world around us.


And, there are spiritual consequences to life dominated by anger. Reliable and practical James defined the spiritual elements of anger in a simple and profound statement---


For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1: 20, ESV


Many of the cousins are active expressions of the aggravations we experience when anger guides us---jealousy, bitterness, malice, rivalries, quarreling, impurity, enmity, dissensions, and others---that angle us against others, and therefore, in angst with God. The aftermath of an explosive outburst can cover us with clouds of doubt, fear, untrust, forgiveness issues, love, discipline, witness, and obedience, surely complications in our spiritual well being. Uncertainty here places question marks around how we live.


And, the cousins can take us in directions that complicate life in many other ways. So, tomorrow we'll discuss what it means to be slow to anger, and then Friday, ways we can control the angry impulses of this human nature, and hopefully deal with anger's cousins.


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