Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Anger, part 3: putting away

“Be angry but… put away all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander along with all malice” -Eph. 4

We continue to discuss anger and how to deal with it in a healthy way in our families. In lesson 1 we discussed the tendency to stuff anger. Lesson 2 was about shifting. Blame shifting is the process where responsibility for a problem is shifted from one person to another. When a problem presents itself and we get angry, often we look for someone to blame. We prefer to point the finger at someone else.
But love points the finger at ourselves and challenges us to do something edifying with our “stirring up” or anger. It’s always the best choice to love your teenager.

Today we discuss lesson 3: putting away.

It’s true that any healthy relationship has struggles. Every family deals with anger issues. Paul’s continues his challenge on anger in Ephesians chapter 4. He challenges us to use anger in a positive way and then get rid of it. Specifically, he says to “put it away.” When my kids were little we always had “put the toys away” time after they’d left their toys all over the house. We had a wooden toy box that sat in our living room that stored all the toys. But the toys didn't jump into the box. It required the kids to pick up the toys and put them into the box and shut the top. When the toys were “put way,” they weren’t there to play with anymore. Paul is reminding us, whether the anger is appropriate or not, to get rid of it quickly.

Paul specifically lists 6 “toys” to put away: bitterness (“bitter-hatred”), wrath (outward anger), anger (the same word used for good anger), clamor (shouting), slander (intent to injure) and malice (to wish ill-will). What a gross list of fleshly, damaging emotions. Putting them away means I bury them. It means I let them go. It means I shut the lid on the toy box and turn the latch. It means I move on.

It’s interesting that Paul says to put away the very “anger” he said was positive. He’s reminding us that even justified and useful anger needs to be buried and forgotten.

The family is such a dynamic, interacting machine. Emotions come and go as they’re stirred up in relationships. As you work through issues with your kids, when the issues are resolved, don't hold on to the anger. Like a cancer, anger not put away can morph and grow into destructive emotions that will harm the relationship.

Remember, when destructive emotions are correctly put away, the home becomes a place of peace.

Next: lastly, option #4: putting on

by Joseph Staples ©

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