Thursday, October 2, 2014

What are you so mad about?

There's a question I sometimes float onto social media sites. I ask, "Do you think you can get through the rest of the day without getting angry?"

The purpose for the question isn't the obvious thing you might think. I put the question out to my readers because so many people today are angry --- some even seething with anger --- but may not even realize how angry they are. When confronted with the question, many are startled at the challenge when they realize how hard getting through the remainder of their day without getting angry might be for them.

There's a lot of anger out there!

I don't mean the "righteous indignation" kind of anger, either. It is true that anger can have a righteous purpose, and it is an emotion God equipped us with. Dr. David Seamands wrote the following about this:

"Anger is a divinely implanted emotion. Closely allied to our instinct for right, it is designed to be used for constructive spiritual purposes. The person who cannot feel anger at evil is a person who lacks enthusiasm for good. If you cannot hate wrong, it's very questionable whether you really love righteousness."

The problem is, much of our anger isn't that healthy emotion used for "constructive spiritual purposes," which is why James wrote, "Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires," (James 1:20).

So what are you so mad about?

For many, they have lost the distinction between an annoyance and grounds for anger, and exercise little self-discipline when annoyed by a simple disturbance.

A young girl who was writing a paper for a school assignment approached her father and asked, "Dad, what is the difference between anger and annoyance?"

The father replied, "It's mostly a matter of degree. Let me show you what I mean."

With that, the father took his cell phone and dialed a number at random. To the man who answered the phone, he said, "Hello, is Melvin there?"

The man answered, "There is no one living here named Melvin. Why don't you learn to look up numbers before you dial?" and then disconnected the call.

"See," said the father to his daughter, "that man was not a bit happy with my call. He was probably busy with something and we annoyed him. Now watch ..."

The father dialed the same phone number. "Hello, is Melvin there?" he asked.

"Now look here!" came the heated reply. "You just called this number and I told you there is no Melvin here! You've got a lot of guts calling again!" then the man hung up.

The father turned to his daughter and said, "You see, that was anger. Now I'll show you what annoyance means ..."

The dad dialed the same number, and a violent voice roared, "Hello!"

The father calmly said, "Hello, this is Melvin. Have there been any calls for me?"

Okay, I know many of you are thinking you would get angry if someone called you like that, but did you get the point? While something may be an annoyance because it's an interruption, how much of what we're mad about is worthy of all the effects of being angry?

How easily do you become angry? Do you let annoyances lead you to anger? Or do you exercise enough self-discipline to contain your anger to matters worthy of righteous indignation?

By the way, did you even realize how often you become angry?

Scotty

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