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Boiling point: Don’t let anger get the better of you

By Kevin Johnson

Anger is what you feel when friends ditch you. When a teacher springs major homework on you. A sister won’t leave your stuff alone. It’s also a natural response to unfair treatment and suffering, or when somebody hurts you. Or you get sick, or your parents divorce or someone you love dies.

The root of anger is always a frustration that something didn’t go the way you wanted.

Boiling over

But get this: Even God gets angry. Jesus got more than a little annoyed at religious leaders who lacked love (Mark 3:5), and He was furious when people made the temple into a shopping mall (John 2:13-17).

If God can get angry, then anger itself obviously isn’t wrong. In fact, there’s a Bible verse that says, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26, NIV). In other words, it’s possible to get mad without sinning, like when you see injustice in the world such as abortion, or even when you see someone getting bullied or taken advantage of.

God knows, however, that sometimes you can freak about the wrong thing. Anger will strangle you when it rules your life. God himself doesn’t stay angry forever, but overflows with kindness and mercy (Micah 7:18). So the Bible tells us to imitate God, getting rid of anger and acting with kindness to each other (Ephesians 4:31).

Living cool

God wants you to live cool.

You’ve probably heard lots of little ways to deal with anger:

Count to 10
Go for a run
Talk it out
Scream into a pillow

Each of those tactics can turn down the temperature when you get heated — for a while.

To really cool off, though, deal with why you get mad. Anger happens when you want what you don’t have. “The reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong — you want only what will give you pleasure” (James 4:2,3, NLT).

Sin is when you go too far and take what isn’t yours. You’ll cool off only when you trust that God will satisfy your needs.

The next time you’re ready to blow your stack, ask yourself two cool-down questions: What do I really want? And what’s the right way to get it?

God promises you what you truly need, from solid stuff (clothes, food, shelter and cash for college) to fuzzier but even more important stuff (love, friendship, understanding, respect and a reasonable amount of control in your life). And when you trust God for all your needs — and ask Him to show you the right way to satisfy good wants — you don’t have so much to get hot about.

It’s the only way to live cool.

Kevin Johnson writes for On Course, the national youth magazine of the Assemblies of God.

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