The internal war
James 4:1-2 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them…
James asks an interesting question, “ What causes the fights and quarrels among you?”. He does not locate the source of anger to be in other people, or in past experiences or in the way a person was raised. He says that it is the passions that are at war within us.
Idolatry of the ego
Someone else can’t make us angry. It is the sin within us that wants our own way or to set the rules in a relationship. Most anger is coming from self-centeredness. We don’t feel like serving or don’t want to say we are sorry. We make excuses for our own anger and claim it is not a sin for us. For example we blame genetics and say, “It is just because I am Irish.”
Many faces of anger
Some anger is the explosive kind that is easy to spot. Other is the more passive type. It is the silent assassin. Jesus doesn’t downplay anger. In the Sermon on the Mount, he equates anger with murder. Anger that is not dealt with does kill, it kills relationships.
Some anger may be a learned behavior. People become so accustomed to treated each other badly that it becomes an ingrained habit. They may even stop responding emotionally to the anger because it has become so normal. There are others who have had such horrible things happen to them in the past or have experienced some deep injustices for which they have had no context to deal with their feelings. This brokenness can lead to chronic anger.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What are some of the passions within you that you see causing conflict in your relationships?
- Read Colossians 3:19. What is the command in this verse? It is written to husbands, but do you think it could be applied to wives as well? Give some examples of how you have treated your spouse harshly.
- Have you found yourself making excuses for your anger? What are some of your excuses and do you think they are legitimate?
- How do you think you would respond differently if you started to think of anger as coming from inside of you rather than from the outside?
- Read Ephesians 4:26. Give some examples of how you can be angry without sinning.
- Since anger is a human emotion that we all experience, what are some things that you think you could do to respond to this powerful emotion in a healthy way?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.