How do you help an angry person?

Uprooting AngerBefore 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.  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 an angry person. The difference between a person saying, “I struggle” over against them saying “I am 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 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.[1]  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.

Gaining understanding of the ins-and-outs of whomever you’re meeting will tremendously help you in exposing idols in their life and subsequently pointing them to Christ.

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. 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.

  • 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.

[1] Jones, Uprooting Anger, 140-152.

 

 

2 thoughts on “How do you help an angry person?

  1. I just finished Ted Cunningham’s Fun Loving You, which I highly recommend as a marriage book. Probably one of the top two marriage books I’ve read. He has this quote, which I think is applicable, so I share it hear:
    “Anger has three primary sources: hurt, fear, and frustration. Anger is a secondary emotion. It’s not a primary emotion. You always feel something before you get angry. Those feelings are amplified when your heart is closed.”

    • That’s a good word Justin and I agree – anger is an emotion that manifests itself because of something else…one example would be James 4 – where you don’t get what you want.

      I’ll have to get that book. Thanks for reading/commenting bro.

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