June 1, 2011

Anger is a battle you cant afford to lose.

Since college anger has been a real struggle for me. In high school it wasn’t that big of a deal. I was pretty laid back.

That all changed in college. Alcohol had a role in that change but most importantly what changed was my surrounding. I joined a fraternity with the hopes of being a light and a witness. It ended up just turning me into a bigger hypocrite.

Something changed. I was tired of the fight, the struggle to do what I believed to be right.

I gave in.

I started drinking more. The alcohol brought out pent up anger and aggression from all those years of dealing with the persecution of trying to follow Christ. It just didn’t seem worth it anymore. So I went with the flow, but when I drank I got angry.

My prodigal moment was when a friend called me a hypocrite, and she was right!

I was planning on moving to Charlotte after graduation but decided it was time to come home. I took 18 hours in a summer session, packed it up and headed back to Texas. I knew that if I moved to Charlotte nothing would change. I was weak, and would give in to my peers.

Back in Dallas I found out that you can take the man out of his environment, but the change inside him takes time to correct. It was a fit of road rage that woke me up. Somewhere down the line I got way off track.

The Lord gave me 6 months of searching for a job to humble and break me.

It wasn’t an overnight change, and still isn’t. God is still working out transformation and sanctifying my life. He is bringing me into a deeper relationship with Him which ultimately reveals the true depth of my sin. The closer you get to God the more you realize how much you need Him and how powerful His grace really is. But that initial act of repentance and ‘coming home’ initiated the road to healing.

Years later I went to a Bill Glass prison outreach. Behind the walls I met men who all struggled with a common theme, anger. And at the root of that anger was pride. They were all looking to prove themselves. Whether by the gangs they were in, how tough people thought they were, or how much they could intimidate you. Deep inside many were hurting and lost. Searching for affirmation and correction from a father figure.

Anger, pride and lust are a common pit fall for men and they all share a common thread… self. But at what point does anger become sin? God is slow to anger but in His anger does not sin.

If God can be angry and not sin, then we know that anger in and of itself is not a sin.

But we must also keep in mind that we are not God.

Although anger is a legitimate emotion it must be controlled by the Spirit. So long as we are walking in the Spirit we can be angry and not sin [Ephesians 4:26]. But this is a fine line. If you are walking in the Spirit the things that anger you will be things that anger God. In the flesh things that anger you will be things that affect you. Namely, your pride and ego.

What is the source of your anger? The source of your anger may reveal whether or not you are walking in Spirit or the flesh. But be careful, even your self imposed ‘righteous indignation’ could very well be self righteousness.

The fruit of the Spirit gives us the best practice for emotional stability and anger is not listed there [Galatians 5:22-23]. A spiritually mature man is a man in control of his emotions.

As men we need to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

The real battle happens within.

As a man who struggles with anger I question the fascination with UFC fighting among Christian men. The popular sport fighting even endorsed by some prominent Christian men reflects the nature of our society. I am not referencing sport fighting as wrong, but question what watching it does to the inside of a man. And what it reflects of the inside of man. If our society is turning towards the gladiator days of Rome, perhaps the depravity of Rome can be seen throughout America. And perhaps our future is the same as Rome?

The Christian man should keep in perspective where the real fight is.

“For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

Let’s be a generation of men known for fighting the good fight, denying the flesh and submitting to Jesus Christ.

Then we just might walk in His power.

— Article contributed by Matt Cote. Director of Marketing and Operations of the Master’s Men ministry.