One simple question to help overcome anger

I never thought I would turn into “that guy!” You know, the guy who doesn’t like people walking through his grass. The one who takes pride in straight lines. The guy who works hard, discretely of course, to keep dogs from marking their territory on his territory!

Well, sadly, at times, I can be “that guy.” The guy who gets angry over silly and insignificant things. Maybe it’s because I’m a dad and dads care about yards and landscaping and grills and bird feeders. Or maybe it’s because I am over 40. Mostly, I think, it’s because I think God wants to show me how much moreIneed to grow – not just my grass.

God will use whatever it takes to get our attention. To dislodge our idols. To expose our hearts so we can see what’s really going on inside. He uses cancer. The loss of a loved one. A crying newborn in the middle of the night. A mess made by a toddler. He’ll even use grass. Whatever it takes, God will use it. But it’s because He wants to give us something better.

Read this: Four ways to respond when you find yourself in crisis 

In the New Testament, the fruit of a life lived apart from God takes on many forms. It looks like sexual immorality, hatred, greed, division, selfish ambition, and fits of rage (Galatians 5:19-20). Out of the many things listed in Galatians 5 that we can struggle with, anger tends to be a pretty common vice. It’s true that God gets angry, but His anger is always good, right, and justified. Anger, in and of itself, is not bad. More times than not, our anger can lean in the direction of unrighteous anger. This is what the Apostle Paul was warning against in Ephesians 4:26 when he wrote, “In your angerdo not sin.”So there is a good kind of anger, but what we need to overcome to experience life in Christ, is our selfish and sinful anger!

One way we can take a step in the direction of experiencing more of the abundant life (John 10:10) that Jesus wants for us is to begin asking one particular question when we find ourselves getting angry. It is very simple, but helps us take a hard look at our hearts.

 What am I not getting that I want or believe I deserve?

Anger always triggers a moral judgment. A verdict about what we think we should or should not be getting in life or out of life. It could be a feeling of being respected, obedient children, a promotion at work, a quiet house, the perfect yard, or a trial-free season. All of these, and more, can cause us to get angry because we are not getting what we want, or what we believe we deserve.

The things we desire might very well be good things.  But we find ourselves in trouble when those things become more important to us than God. In this way, anger reveals what is really ruling our hearts more than Jesus.  It exposes what we really worship. Questioning our anger has a way of getting underneath or behind our anger. When we question our anger, we begin to see what has become more important to us than loving God and loving others.

What is it for you? What is it you need to confess and turn from? A life lived with Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, is one marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). This is the kind of life God wants for us, and I am guessing, this is the kind of life you really want for yourself too. If you want more life, more of the life God wants for you, for your marriage, for your family, start by asking a question – one simple question that can help you overcome the wrong kind of anger:

What am I not getting that I want or believe I deserve?

Now read this: Are you guilty of one of the ‘most damaging” attitudes within our churches 

Patrick Schwenk is a husband, father, pastor, and author. Along with his, wife, Patrick is the creator of For the Family and the author of For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse with Kids in the House.


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