Controlling the temper is a difficult thing to do, but we must learn to do it. Christians are told not be enslaved to anybody or anything. The only person we follow and obey as our Master is the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, we should learn to make our temper obey us.
But how do we control our temper, especially when something awfully wrong happens or something terribly upsetting is done to us? Let's see what the Bible has to say about it.
Tempted to let our temper run wild
When something wrong or unpleasant happens, we normally get upset about it. At times, especially when what happened is painful or caused some loss or additional trouble, we are tempted to throw a fit. We get into squabbles, quarrels, and fights, either verbal or physical.
Did you know that venting anger is the mark of a foolish man? Proverbs 29:11 tells us,
"A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back."
When we have unforgiveness in our hearts, for example, even the very memory of the bad thing done to us years ago can still cause us to explode in anger. The very remembrance of the person who offended us still ignites some anger in our hearts and causes our blood to rush into the head.
If you can relate to any of the two situations described above, you've got to break free from the slave-driver called anger.
Here's how you can do that.
1) Be angry under control
Friends, it's not a sin to be angry, as long as we don't commit sin. What I mean is it's pretty much OK to be upset when something wrong is done. What is not OK is doing something wrong in response to the upsetting thing that is done to us.
Psalm 4:4 tells us, "Be angry, and do not sin."
When someone offends you, acknowledge the fact that you are offended. Don't respond in like manner, however. Don't go off speaking curses, hurling insults, or hitting back in return. If it helps, you can remove yourself from the situation so you won't be tempted to retaliate. Be angry, but hold yourself from doing what displeases God.
The next thing that needs to be done is to release the offense. Forgiveness opens up the door for tempter to leave us alone. Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us,
"Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."
Forgive your offender, especially before sleeping at night. Research has found that whatever you think of during the day gets cemented in your brain while you sleep, making you remember it more after you wake up. Release the offense.
3) Focus on God's goodness
Focusing on the hurt and the offense won't help you get better. It can help you turn into the Hulk, but it won't make you more like Jesus. Who do you want to be like?
The Lord Jesus said in Luke 6:40, "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher." We can only be like who or what we are following and imitating.
If we focus on the offense, we will soon be filled with negativity. If we focus on God's goodness, we will soon be filled with hope and joy.
Jesus Himself said this when He said in Matthew 6:22-23:
"The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"
Instead of focusing on the wrong, focus on God Himself. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we are transformed as we do that.
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."