Keeping Your Cool?

Do you keep your cool?

Being in ministry allows pastors to see people when they are at their best, and their worst.  We see how people can rise to overcome challenges of sin like they never thought it possible before.  We can see marriages restored and friendships healed.  We get to see so many amazing things that clearly can only be attributed to God working in the life of someone, and that person walking in obedience.  But we also get to see the other side.

Sadly, we also get to see men and women throw away many years of marriage for silly things.  We get to see folks make foolish choices that scripture warns will only lead to pain.  We give counsel about how to live life, and watch it get rejected quickly without a thought.  But one of the most regular things that we see people do is lose their cool.

Anger reveals your functioning god

Losing your cool is not a Biblical term, but it is one that is often used in our society.  This heart issue has many forms today: getting frustrated or being upset always points to the same issue…the heart of anger.  Scripture warns time and again that anger gets you nowhere fast.  Sure, there are a few times when it is appropriate to get Biblically angry, but for most of us those events are few and far between (and aren’t even the times we actually get angry the most).

For most of us, when we get angry we reveal what is functioning as our god in that moment: yourself.  When something is not done the way it should be, when a spouse says or does something hurtful, when a colleague lets you down again, the natural response is to get angry.

Often, during the show of anger, there are two powerful words that come out of the angry person’s mouth…“because” and “but”. They get used in many different ways by the angered to somehow justify the response they are exhibiting.  For example, when a spouse gets angry for the socks not getting picked up they often blame shift their anger, saying it’s because of something the other person did.  Or the word “’but” gets used to deflect the blame that belonged on the angry person.  These words need to be forgotten in the vocabulary of problem solving.

Water bottle and anger

Paul Tripp uses one of the easiest to understand metaphors that have ever been taught. He stands on stage and opens a new water bottle and instructs the audience to watch closely.  He then shakes the water bottle with its cap off and then asks the question, “Why did water come out of the bottle?”  Instantly the smartest folks rush to the answer and declare, “Because you shook the bottle!”  Paul then says the question again, but emphasizes a key word in the sentence, “Why did WATER come of out the bottle?” and then the answer hits the crowd in the face…because water was in the bottle.   We get angry not because of others, but because of what is in our heart!

Friends, if you find yourself with a heart of anger, don’t seek to blame or explain, seek to confess.  You get angry at folks because you have anger inside of your heart.  Confess your anger, repent of your actions, seek to make restoration, and pray for God’s help in changing your heart.

Joshua M. GreinerJoshua M. Greiner
Joshua is the Pastor of Faith West Community Ministries. He has been on staff with Faith since 2010. He graduated from Purdue University with a BA in Political Science and from Faith Bible Seminary with a MDIV. He is married to his wife Shana and is the Father of Winston.
  • Sam

    Very good reminder of the heart of pride that anger shows as we try to be our own god. Why is it so easy to function like this so automatically? Idols and sinful motivations of the heart of course but what needs to be ruling the heart instead? How can I break the pattern and handle anger biblically? What does righteous anger look like? Am I truly a Christian if this is my regular practice? Dealing with the problem of sinful anger begins and ends with the gospel. The gospel, through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, needs to be a transformative part of my daily thinking resulting in obedience. In the gospel, I am reminded that God is just to give me His eternal wrath for the punishment of my sins. I am just as bad if not worse than the person who sinned against me. As Richard Baxter explains a confirmed Christian is very low and vile in his own eyes and therefore can easily endure to be low and vile in the eyes of others. The humbling reality of the gospel brings clarity to my soul about the truth about myself. It also brings clarity to who or what I truly desire instead of Christ. If I am truly in Christ (in union with him) then my chief desire, comfort, and Lord is Christ and not myself, my control, the respect I deserve, etc…When motivated by the love of Christ, being considered vile, being attacked, and being disrespected becomes an opportunity for the transformative effect of the gospel in the life of another.