Crafting a Christ-like response to anger

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Oh patient Father,
Though I may struggle with my human emotions,
I will seek to learn and practice Your ways.
When anger threatens to well up inside of me,
help me focus on what’s most important: doing Your work.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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John 18:10-11

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Peter was understandably angry. An innocent man, his friend, had just been arrested. He was so angry, in fact, that he responded to violence with violence. Jesus responded to Peter’s anger with both a direct instruction (Put your sword into its sheath…”) and a question (“Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?)

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My cheeks were burning a hot red. My heart was pounding. My fist was tightly clenched around the handrail inside the bus. Anger was welling up inside of me. I heard all the comments and not so quiet whispers:

“Oh, the poor baby!”

“He can’t do it…”

“Why doesn’t she just help the little guy?”

“Oh, that’s so sad…”

But the truth was that Mark deserved the time he needed in order to navigate the steps off the school bus independently. Yes, he was exceedingly tiny for his age. Yes, he was frail. And yes, the backpack slung across his shoulders was nearly bigger than he was. But Mark could do it. He just needed more time—more time than apparently the other mothers were willing to give him.

“You can do it,” I said loudly but gently. If I was hearing the comments, I was positive Mark was, too. I wanted to be sure he heard my words over theirs.

Honestly, I wanted to turn around and tell them to all go home. My son wasn’t a show for them to watch. Their kids were all off the bus. Why were they so intent on sticking around to watch mine? But as I let my grip on the handlebar tighten, I let my focus get ever more determined, too. Mark was what mattered most in this situation. While I believe my anger was absolutely justified, a greater good, my ultimate responsibility, was already in front of me and he was working so hard to safely navigate the giant steps all on his own. He deserved all my focus and attention, not the nosy, noisy peanut gallery behind me.

“Mank you, Momma!” he said as his tiny feet finally reached the ground.

And with that, I let go of the handlebar and gripped the grateful hand of my little one.

No reward could have been sweeter.

For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James 1:20 (ESV)

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Anger is an emotion we can feel. Identify some of the physical things you feel in your body when you start to become angry.

Jesus gave Peter instructions on what to do when he became angry. We can use God’s peace to guard our hearts and minds when anger threatens to overcome us, too (Philippians 4:7).

Use the physical reactions you feel to cue you into creating a new, more Christ-like response. What do these kinds of responses look like? What are the results?

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