How do you help people who are angry? This is a question that’s been asked of me in an increasing measure lately. Ultimately this is due to the Spirit of God bringing conviction to a person’s heart (John 16:8-11) but another small factor has been my willingness to share about my personal struggle with anger.
Before I continue it is important to remember that anger is not the actual problem; anger is the manifestation or “coming-out” due to a person not receiving something they believe they deserve, which I’ll share more in an upcoming post (hopefully my next one). So according to Scripture it’s not simply that a person struggles with anger; it’s more biblically accurate to say that a person is indeed an angry person. The difference between a person saying “I struggle” over against them saying “I’m angry” is monumental. The person who says “I struggle” will pinpoint with laser accuracy circumstances that “cause” them to be angry. The person who says “I’m angry” will pinpoint with laser accuracy circumstances that “provide an occasion” to become angry; the circumstances are not to blame, however difficult they may be. What is to blame is the sinful disposition of a person’s heart (whether it be wholly sinful [i.e. unbeliever] or a indwelling sin that needs to continually “put off” [i.e. believer]).
So how do you exactly help people who are angry. Here is a brief summary of what Robert Jones, author of “Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help For A Common Problem” says in chapter 9. For a more explanatory answer to this question I highly recommend you taking the time to read this excellent resource.
Step One: Enter the person’s world, understand him and his situation, and give gospel hope.
Gain an understanding of the ins-and-outs of whomever you’re meeting with tremendously help you in exposing idols in their life and subsequently pointing them to Christ (142).
Step Two: Help the person to root out his sinful heart beliefs that cause sinful anger and embrace the God of grace.
The aim of your time with an individual is to expose ruling beliefs and motives in their heart and again point them to repentance and trust in Christ (143). Walking through such passages as Matthew 5:21-22 or James 3:13-4:12 can be quite helpful in explaining and exposing what is ruling their heart.
And yet an individual does not merely need to see idols (though they do) they also need to replace those idols with the promises of God and truth from His word. To that end Jones offers three truths that are vital for angry people (146-147).
- God is the righteous judge of your offenders (and I would add “you’re not”).
- God is the merciful forgiver and righteous judge of your sins.
- God is your good, loving, and sovereign Father.
Step Three: Help the person to control his sinful anger expressions and to replace them with godly words and actions.
Jones, recalling some principles for anger-revealers in an earlier chapter, gives the reader guidelines that will hopefully help.
- Repent of the evil desires that produce angry behavior and receive God’s forgiving, enabling grace.
- Own responsibility for your angry behavior and identify it as evil before God and man.
- Confess and renounce your angry behavior before God and others.
- Believe anew in Christ and his gospel promises to angry people.
- Commit yourself to taking active, concrete steps to replace your angry behavior with Christlike words and actions (self-control; godly speech and working towards peace rather than strife).
- Establish and carry out a workable temptation plan. This includes enlisting the help of fellow believers.
- Continue to prayerfully study Scripture, and Scripture-based resources, on relevant topics.
What about anger-concealers?
- See the sinfulness and ugly consequences of your bitter heart and concealing behavior.
- Turn to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, and believe that he fully forgives you.
- Forgive your offender from your heart.
- Resist the countertemptation to vent your anger.
- Replace your concealing behavior with godly speech that ministers to others.
- Pursue peace rather than strife and be committed to problem-solving rather than problem-making.
- Continue to pray, to study Scripture (and Scripture-based resources), and to enlist the prayers, counsel, and accountability of fellow believers.
My hope and prayer is that helps you or someone you know. Blessings.