Anger can be justifiable, or ‘righteous’ (for example, when we become indignant about an injustice), but all too often it is simply justified. Anger outbursts often result from turmoil and stress over being unable to control our circumstances. Whether in the car or in public, it is helpful to identify what we feel and to acknowledge dangerous emotions that can result in us affecting those in our world negatively and hurtfully. Whether others are at fault or not, we can’t control people and may not even be able to control events. Proverbs 29:11 suggests, though, that we ought to be able to control ourselves. Exactly how, though, when we can so easily feel our emotions and our anger getting the better of us?
Galatians 5:16-24 describes outbursts of anger as one of the sins of the flesh. It suggests, too that it keeps us from the Kingdom of God but that we conquer such imperfections by walking in the Spirit. This doesn’t mean striving to rid ourselves of anger all by ourselves before we can feel worthy of coming to God. It is precisely because we are unworthy that we need to lean on him and to crave more of the Spirit’s enabling in order to live life well. We walk in the Spirit so that we don’t fulfil the desires of the flesh, or our tendency to do wrong. This not only helps to overturn the lies we might believe (“I can’t be expected to be perfect”, “If only my wife would…”, etc.), but it is a powerfully liberating realisation for anyone seeking to overcome any life-controlling addiction or a bad habit.
Moses was angry, to the point of killing an Egyptian, yet God redeemed even him! He had the second chance that we often feel unworthy of and was charged with leading God’s people into the Promised Land of Israel. This symbolises the fullness of life that we can enter by crossing the Jordan River which symbolises the receiving of Spirit Baptism, just as the first crossing of water (the Red Sea) symbolised water baptism. Of course, Moses’ anger ultimately cost him access to Israel, even though he was sent to enter it. Leaving our wilderness wanderings and struggles behind requires the fullness of God’s Spirit to break the shackles of life.
Finally, Galatians advises us to crucify the flesh. This is a ‘can do’ attitude when God’s power is at work within us. It happens as we feed the Spiritual nature and deliberately avoid the carnality that conspires to undermine a life of holiness and service of God. When His strength becomes our strength, all things are then indeed “possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23).