Paul’s Rx for Anger Management

The apostle Paul doesn’t mince words in his letter to the Ephesians. He begins chapter four talking about how we are all to work together, recognizing and celebrating each others gifts. 

Now Paul really cuts to the chase.

you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,… 22 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:17a, 22-24 RSV

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Wait a minute, wasn’t Paul writing to Gentiles? Yup! And yes, he’s telling them to basically abandon their culture, their friends, neighbors, family members, business associates. Our guy, Paul, doesn’t make this Christianity thing easy, does he?

But Paul launches into a list of specific do’s and don’ts to clarify and help the Ephesians. Most of the items deal with “anger issues”. 


My cynical brain wonders if some listening to Paul’s letter may have been wondering, “That’s just great, Paul. First you tell me to give up my way of life, and nearly everyone I care about. Now you’re telling me to get over it. How am I supposed to do that?”

Good thing Paul knew his “audience”, even if he doesn’t know us, because he breaks it down even further. He gives the Ephesians a 3-step prescription for anger management:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, …
 *   be kind to one another,
*   tenderhearted , and
*   forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32 RSV

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Who doesn’t get angry? I know I do (although not nearly as often as I did as a young Christian). A coworker, a child who smarted off once too often, an overworked, underpaid snippy clerk at the store,  a spouse who forgot, again, to bring home milk. 

Dear Reader, this is one of those passages where I think God is saying, “Look, kids, I know it’s hard. But holding on to anger just isn’t good for you,or for each other. So here’s what I want you to do:

  • play nice;
  • cut each other some slack;
  • forgive and forget.”

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What do you think, Dear Reader? If we, as Christians, began to practice these prescriptions for anger management a little more consistently, would we begin to see less…

  • cringing when we read Facebook posts?
  • road rage?
  • “reality” tv shows in courtrooms?
  • bullying?
  • domestic violence?

God knows His children aren’t perfect, that’s why He gave us some tools to help us out. Maybe we could stretch the love card and candy companies are making big bucks off of, by promoting Valentine’s Day, if we simply take our medicine. The Great Physician is on call 24/7, and His pharmacy never runs out of what we need most.

What makes you angry, Dear Reader? What are your strategies to manage anger? How are you teaching kids in your world to manage anger?

What if we all pitched in to give God a huge box of the kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness? Let’s start with receiving God’s love, followed by showing His love, and end with giving Him more love than we knew we had.


0 thoughts on “Paul’s Rx for Anger Management”

  1. This is so perfect for these days we’re living in! People are so angry and if only each of us referred every action to Paul’s list of three that you’ve highlighted – what a different world we’d be in. In fact, I think we might consider it heaven! 🙂

    1. I think you’re right, Carol. As a culture, we seemed to have raised anger to an art form, me included. A good friend of mine used to frequently say, “Consider the alternative (life without/less anger)”. It does sound like heaven, doesn’t it? Or at least heaven’s next door neighbor.

  2. Great thoughts here! Dealing with anger is not easy but it is important. I like how you highlight Paul’s advice and I think the key thing is remembering God’s love and the grace he has shown us. It makes it a little bit easier to show that grace to others.

  3. Thanks, Lesley. You gotta love it when God gives us insights into His word. This was definitely one of lessons I was preaching to myself, and letting others eavesdrop on. Like everything else, God’s grace makes it better. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Anger is certainly one of the emotions God asks us to manage. It really is hard sometimes….I was in James last year and it got in my business about this. Happy to be visiting from #heartencouragement. 🙂

    1. Managing anger can be a huge task, especially when we begin to figure out its many faces and the damage it can do. I was super thankful for the new enlightenment from Paul about the simple ways we can manage anger, through God’s grace. Blessings for your day, Lisa!

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