Controlling Your Temper

This entry is part 387 of 423 in the series Inquiring Minds
Image by Wendy Corniquet from Pixabay

What does the Bible say about controlling your temper?

The Bible has a lot to say about our anger and how to control it. Let’s begin with the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus speaks of anger. In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus brings up the commandment about murder.

That he internalizes the principle behind the murder. Why do we want to act or dream about murdering someone? For most of us, the reason behind it is our anger or rage for that person. Perhaps they wronged us or we just don’t like them for some other reason.

Jesus pinpoints the major reason for our desire to commit murder. He says that murder is judged by God, but even our anger leads us to judgment. Is the basis for why we would want to act out in murder. Anger is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, then the act of murder that follows.

We may be able to restrain ourselves from acting out in murder. But our thoughts and our emotions are just as important to God who searches our hearts and knows what we are thinking. The words we say out of anger are just as destructive as the action of anger.

Moses is a great example of what happens when we get angry. He killed an Egyptian taskmaster because he was beating one of his people, a Hebrew, hoping that his Israelite brothers would understand he was only trying to defend them (Exodus 2:10-15). But he went about it the wrong way and it all started with his anger.

Later on in life, he is called one of the humblest persons in the history of the Bible (Numbers 12:3). But he gained his humility through experience. He was also angry enough to strike the rock when God said not to do that (Numbers 20:10-13). Moses learned from these fits of rage how to become humble and control his anger better.

James also has much to say about our anger issues. Possibly referring to Proverbs 14:29, James tells us we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19-21). We tend to speak in haste and react in anger before we hear what somebody said.

He goes on to further explain that our anger is not a righteous anger that helps God or his agenda in the world. When Christians get angry at people, it turns them off to the gospel. Beyond this, when God gets angry, it is always righteous anger. Only after walking with him and learning from him can we also have a righteous anger toward the things that make God angry.

James further contrasts filthiness and wickedness, most likely related to speech out of anger, with the implanted word of God in us. Humility is a great contrast to our anger. The Bible relates some of our speech to our anger.

One of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, which helps us to control our anger (Galatians 5:23). But the most important thing we can learn is that the best way to control our anger is to humble ourselves before the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate the fruit of self-control in us.

With willpower, we may be able to control it once in a while, but anger will usually get the best of us until the Holy Spirit changes our character. As he makes us like Jesus, the Holy Spirit will control the anger we have.

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