Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32
Holding onto anger is like holding onto a snaked poised to strike.
Arturo Toscanini was an expert conductor in the early 1900s. Known for his interpretation of great composers such as Verdi, Beethoven, Brahms, and Wagner; Toscanini was revered as one of the greatest Italian conductors of his time. Through his time conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra on a radio program, he became a household name. What most people didn’t know about the great composer was his often uncontrollable temper. In fits of rage he was known to throw precious masterpieces at his musicians and risk losing such great compositions. Especially troubled by his temper was his composition librarian. Charged to watch over the masterpieces, she went to great lengths to study Toscanini’s behavior before a fit of temper. First, he would grab his baton with both hands and struggle to break it. If he succeeded, he would usually calm down afterward. If he did not succeed, he would grab the nearest compositions and begin hurling them at students. How did his librarian help preserve the compositions? She made sure Toscanini conducted with a weak baton.
Toscanini’s anger almost cost him timeless, priceless pieces of workmanship. Rather than controlling his temper, he allowed his anger to overcome him. How many people could identify with Toscanini? Classes are taught, seminars held, and trained professionals hold meetings to help people combat anger issues. But God shows us in Ephesians 4 that His desire is for anger, hatred, a quick temper, and bitterness be put off each day, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.”
Put off anger. Someone once described anger as a man who hated being slapped on the back, so his solution was to strap dynamite to his back and wait to teach a lesson to the next person who slapped him. Anger not only hurts the people around you, but also hurts you.
Anger not only brings emotional and spiritual problems, but anger and bitterness has been linked to several medical problems. Doctors and medical professionals realize the danger in holding onto anger, and encourage people to release their anger in a constructive manner. While their methods are based on science, God’s methods of putting off anger is based in His Word.
You must practice a putting off of anger each time your emotions rise. Even when a situation seems beyond your control and your flesh tells you to react harshly, seek God and put off the anger you feel.
Put on kindness. To replace the anger you feel, God commands you to put on kindness, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” When putting off something in your life, replacing it with something good helps keep you on the right track. In the case of anger, a good way to put off feelings of animosity is to replace them with feelings of kindness. Showing someone love, turning the other cheek, and returning evil with good are all ways God desires for you to put on kindness.
Do you ever feel anger toward someone? Perhaps a situation happens that “presses your buttons” or builds feelings of resentment in you. Rather than giving place to anger, seek God’s help in putting off the old feelings of hatred and putting on kindness through loving actions toward others.