‘Don’t use… abusive language.’ Ephesians 4:29 NLT
The Bible says: ‘Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.’ (Ephesians 4:29–30 NLT) Notice, when you lash out in anger you not only hurt the other person, you grieve the Holy Spirit. Have you considered that? As followers of Christ we’re called to try to understand what the other person needs. That means not bringing up previously confessed offenses, dragging in other people, or using wisecracks about someone’s weight, color, IQ, or physical, mental and emotional limitations. Don’t bring up things that cloud the issue and keep you from finding a solution. And don’t raise the decibel level in order to intimidate or manipulate. God made you with a capacity for anger because, when handled right, it can be the fuel needed to bring positive change and the medicine that heals. So:
(1) Seek a solution, not a ‘victory.’ Name-calling and ‘diagnosing’ others just makes things worse. Your focus shouldn’t be on what they did, but what you can do together to resolve it.
(2) Acknowledge your flaws and ask for forgiveness. Admitting your imperfections makes it easier for the other person to admit theirs.
(3) For every difficulty you address, give a sincere compliment. Instead of criticizing, try saying, ‘I’m sure this wasn’t easy for you to hear. Thanks for listening to me so graciously.’
Being solution-focused instead of blame-focused gives people something to live up to, not down to.
‘Out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.’ Luke 6:45 NIV
What you store on your computer’s hard drive can be recalled with a few clicks. Jesus said: ‘The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart… the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.’ And when you download old resentments you grow bitter. When you’re angry, deal with it quickly. Don’t walk around on a ‘slow boil’. And don’t sit around hoping the other person will see the light and apologize to you. What if they never do?
Jesus said, ‘If your brother wrongs you, go and have it out with him at once—just between the two of you. If he will listen to you, you have won him back.’ (Matthew 18:15PHPS) What do you value most—your point of view, or the relationship? When you ‘stuff’ your anger and refuse to deal with the issue in a healthy way, you add another skeleton to your emotional closet. Imagine what that does to you.
Some doctors say resentment eats at your stomach lining, attacks your immune system, and predisposes you to heart problems, cancers, and other physical, social, and emotional disorders. And that’s not all! It preoccupies your mind, drains your energy, and cripples your creativity. It strains your fellowship with God, your family, and friends, as well as denying your offender an opportunity to clear their conscience and make things right with God and with you. Until you deal with the issue, you’ll drag it around like a ball and chain. Refuse to live that way! Ask God for the humility and courage to deal with the issue—today.
‘My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak right things.’ Proverbs 23:16 NKJV
When it comes to practicing anger management, here are two important Bible principles:
(1) Don’t blame people and things. Blaming is a way of evading responsibility while pointing your finger elsewhere. ‘If only you’d arrive on time, I wouldn’t have to nag you,’ or ‘If you’d stop nagging me, maybe I’d start being on time.’ Words like that don’t help, they just antagonize the other person, perpetuate your anger, and fail to get the results you want.
(2) Don’t use words as weapons or a form of control. Instead keep your emotions in check and express them in a healthy way. Remember, your goal is to solve the problem and strengthen the relationship, not leave wounds that fester. Is this easy to do? No—that’s why you need God’s help. The Bible says that your words can crush the other person’s spirit (see Proverbs 18:14), break their heart (see Proverbs 15:4), and destroy the relationship (see Proverbs 18:21). Solomon said that angry words ‘go down to a man’s inmost parts.’ (Proverbs 26:22 NIV) What you say can live in the memory of another person their whole life—all the way to the grave. Is that what you want?
On the other hand, anger properly managed never needs to be regretted or repented of. Learn to discern the difference between the anger you feel and the words you speak. Anger can reveal what needs to be changed in the relationship. So ask God to show you what needs changing—first in yourself, then in the other person.
‘Don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Ephesians 4:26 NLT
Here’s a Bible plan for growth that includes anger management: ‘Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil… Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them… Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.’ (Ephesians 4:23–32 NLT)
God gave you every emotion you have, including anger. But He wants you to handle it the right way. Note the words ‘let us… tell the truth’. When you’re angry, instead of denying it, use it to bring about positive change. Saying, ‘I’ve been feeling angry because I value our relationship and I’d like to talk about it,’ brings healing and solutions. Pretending you’re not angry when you are is basically dishonest. So is exaggeration. ‘You never listen to me… You always ignore my wishes… Nobody does anything around here except me.’ Such generalizations are untrue and serve only to aggravate and polarize, guaranteeing the problem gets obscured and goes unsolved.
God’s will is for you to control your anger rather than letting your anger control you.
‘Life is not measured by how much you own.’ Luke 12:15 NLT
One day a man was talking to an angel. The story goes that the angel said, ‘What can I do for you?’ The man said, ‘Show me the Wall Street Journal one year from today. This way, I’ll know where to invest my money and become a multimillionaire.’ So the angel snapped his fingers and out came a Wall Street Journal dated one year in the future. The man flipped the pages of the newspaper, studying the listings and observing which stocks would be high and which ones would be low. But in the midst of his joy, tears began to roll down his cheeks.
Why? Because when he looked over the obituary column, there was his face.
God is not opposed to you acquiring and achieving things in life. But He wants you to know that this life can only offer so much, and unless you live each day in the light of eternity, you’re going to waste your time on the wrong things. It’s ok to enjoy temporal things, as long as your main focus is on eternal things.
Paul said: ‘My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.’ (Acts 20:24 NLT) If you live to be one hundred, you may receive a ‘congratulations’ card from Buckingham Palace, signed by the Queen herself. But it doesn’t compare to the ‘well done’ you’ll receive from God for fulfilling the assignment He has given you here on earth.
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you… You are Mine.’ Isaiah 43:1 NKJV
When God redeems you, He owns you. And what He owns, He protects! This is illustrated in the story of Belshazzar. The Bible says: ‘Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords… Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple… in Jerusalem, that… his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.’ (Daniel 5:1–2 NKJV)
Now, if they’d just abused some worthless old cup it might not have mattered, but God valued these sacred vessels too much to let them be mishandled. So out of the invisible sleeve of the night, the finger of God wrote the fate of Belshazzar on his palace walls. ‘That very night… Belshazzar was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom.’ (Daniel 5:30-31 NKJV)
As a redeemed child of God, here’s an unchanging principle you can stand on: ‘He permitted no man to do them wrong… saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones.”’ (1 Chronicles 16:21–22 NKJV)
You may have to fight on foreign soil, work at home in a difficult situation, or endure hardship for your faith. But you can be sure of one thing—God has too much invested in you to let you be destroyed. And any time Satan tries, God will interrupt his party and say, ‘This vessel is off limits—it took Me too long to teach this woman to pray… I’ve invested too many years training this man how to overcome… They’ve endured too much for My name’s sake for Me to let you harm them. Take your hands off them; they’re Mine!’
‘Write the vision and make it plain.’ Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV
Only when you’re clear about your personal goals, can you measure your personal growth. Here are eight proven principles that will help you to establish the right goals for your life:
(1) Begin with prayer; otherwise the ladder you’re climbing may be leaning against the wrong wall. ‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but…the Lord’s purpose… prevails.’ (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)
(2) Think on paper. God told Habakkuk, ‘Write the vision and make it plain.’ Writing your goals down gives them a sense of permanency, plus it energizes you.
(3) Set deadlines. ‘The vision is yet for an appointed time.’ (Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV) Without a definite beginning and ending, it’s easy to procrastinate and get nowhere.
(4) List the steps you need to take. Then keep the list before you at all times; it will show you the path to follow.
(5) Prioritize the steps in order of importance. What do you need to do first? What can you do later? An organized plan is always better than trying to carry stuff around in your head.
(6) Take action—now. ‘Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.’ (Ephesians 5:15–16 NIV) A mediocre plan that’s implemented always beats a brilliant plan that isn’t.
(7) Do something each day to move you forward. For example, read systematically through the Bible in a year… call a specific number of clients every week… engage in physical activity every day.
(8) Have goals you’re willing to devote your life to. The psalmist said, ‘Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’ (Psalm 90:12 NIV)
‘Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.’ Philippians 3:13 NKJV
There will always be people who speak ill of you. ‘She’ll never amount to anything… His parents were nothing, his grandparents were nothing, and he’s going to be nothing too!’ The question is: who are you going to believe, God or your critics?
According to Scripture: ‘Anyone… in Christ… is a new creation; old things have passed away… all things have become new.’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) God says that by His grace you’re going to prove your critics wrong, so stop listening to their negative predictions. Stop believing the family members, school teachers, employers, and so-called ‘friends’ who try to put you down. Turn a deaf ear to racism and sexism.
Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ (John 8:32 NIV) Renew your mind daily with the truth of God’s Word (see Romans 12:1–2). You may have been abused, misused, rejected, and neglected, but it’s time to forget those things that are behind and start reaching forward. When God speaks a word over your life, as far as He’s concerned it has already been accomplished; it’s ‘a done deal!’ Now it’s your job to believe it, speak it, and walk in the reality of it each day. When someone says something that leaves a scar on your heart and mind, do this:
(1) Write it down on a piece of paper.
(2) Ask God to help you forgive them and to erase the scar.
(3) Tear up the paper, toss it into the rubbish, and ‘press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:14 NKJV)
‘It was not mixed with faith.’ Hebrews 4:2 AMPC
In order for cement to become concrete, it must be mixed with sand and water. If you don’t get the mix right, the cement will never become concrete. And just as your body needs good nutrition each day, your soul needs to be fed on God’s Word. But you can’t stop there. You must act on what you hear and read. Faith is acting like God is telling the truth!
If you don’t act on God’s Word, it won’t do you any good. ‘The message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it.’
To get the results God’s Word promises, note what you must ‘mix’ in: ‘confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness.’ Why do you go to church and sit down in a pew? Because you are confident that the pew will hold you up. The reverse is also true. You may say you believe the pew can hold you up, but if you never sit down on it, you’re not exercising faith—because you’re not acting on what you say you believe. What does it mean to ‘act’ in faith?
(1) To agree with God’s Word and refuse to say anything that contradicts it.
(2) To wait patiently, allowing God to fulfill His Word in His own way and on His own schedule. ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for.’ (Hebrews 11:1 KJV) Note the word ‘substance’. Your faith must be based on something substantial. And that ‘something’ is the tried, proven, unfailing truth of God’s Word.
‘Lord… You guard all that is mine.’ Psalm 16:5 NLT
Have you allowed envy to form a ‘stronghold’ in your life? Do you find yourself avoiding or feeling resentful of certain people because of their success? The Bible says, ‘Envy rots the bones.’ (Proverbs 14:30 NIV) and the New Living Translation paraphrases it this way: ‘Jealousy is like cancer in the bones.’
If you find yourself constantly criticizing someone and craving what they have, read these words and think about their implications for you and your family carefully and prayerfully: ‘I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.’ (Jeremiah 29:11–12 TLB)
In essence, envy says to God, ‘You made a mistake when You made me like I am. I want to be like that other person, and have what they have!’ No, God has a unique calling and destiny for you. So instead of giving place to envy, let it motivate you to become the best possible ‘you’—the person God intended you to be.
If you’re fighting a losing battle with envy, here’s a prescription from God’s Word you need to take every day: ‘Lord, You alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land You have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.’ (Psalm 16:5–9 NLT)