Anger isn’t something that ever resonated with me. I would almost immediately dismiss most words on anger. Until I heard David Powlison write on the topic.
He defined anger as “active displeasure toward something that’s important enough to care about.” He also talked about the six expressions of anger: “irritability, arguing, bitterness, violence, passive anger, and self-righteous anger.” Ouch. Perhaps violence is not a struggle, arguing isn’t a personal vice, but the rest? Bitterness, self righteous anger, passive anger and most of all irritability. These show up in my heart more than I would like.
Irritability has been likened to anger on a slow simmer. Sadly, the list of things that irritate me is sometimes long. A recent irritation has been noise. Crying, whining, loud chewing, loud talking, snoring, constant questions and while I know I will miss it one day, hearing four small voices calling my name can sometimes be irritating. If my irritability is active displeasure toward something that’s important enough to care about, what does that mean? When I’m irritated by all of these things, what am I caring most about? Maybe my own peace, comfort or just a quiet moment. I begin to care so much about these things that my heart’s response when I don’t get them the way I want them is to feel irritated or more accurately, angry.
We all have things like this, don’t we? I definitely have more significant irritations, bitterness and passive anger I could share, but this is a good and maybe relatable place to start. Don’t let anger take root in your heart. Let’s not excuse away our irritations or frustrations or passive anger. It will only cause destruction.
My beloved brothers, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and every expression of evil, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save your souls. James 1:20