Can we be addicted to an emotion or a feeling? Let's look at the emotion of anger. When something gets us angry, there is a feeling that rushes through us. It may in large part be an adrenaline rush because it does just that: It rushes over us and through our body. I'm sure we have all heard how some people continue to do daredevil activities because they are addicted to the adrenaline rush. Well, I submit the same goes for the feeling that surges through us when anger takes hold.
Some of us get a flushed face when angry. We are then filled with the fight-or-flight response. We want to say something or do something. I think we all recognize how hard it is to control our tongues during the initial stage of anger. That is a serious spiritual problem we face: saying or doing something we will regret. Even if what we want to say is something that we think is true, it may not be something we should verbalize. Does one really want to tell his or her mother-in-law how bad her cooking is? Would that be constructive or would it forever change the relationship with someone we really care about?
What then can we do? We are all aware that angry words hurt the best of relationships. He that is soon angry deals foolishly (Proverbs 14:17). We must control what we say if we want to become like Christ. Consider how He must have felt on His last night on earth as a human when, after an agonizing prayer session, He returned to find His disciples sleeping (Luke 22:45)? He had good reason to be angry with them; after all, He had tried to impress on them the importance of this night and what He was about to experience. But how did He react? He patiently admonished them; then proceeded to return to prayer, talking to the only One He could count on. He must have been hurt and disappointed, but He readily forgave them their weakness.
But in our first moments of anger, forgiveness is the furthest thing from our minds. Righteous indignation, self-preservation and the overwhelming need to defend our own thoughts, actions and point of view—these things are what fill us as this heady drug courses through us. James 3:6 and 8 says: "The tongue is a fire…it defiles the whole body…No man can tame the tongue."
Is it a sin to become angry? Or is it only a sin when we give in and act on our vengeful tendencies? In Ephesians 4:26 we are told: "Be angry, and do not sin." Look at who is on the sidelines egging us on. Isn't it none other that the one who stands ready to accuse the brethren? Satan is called the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). That thought alone should prompt us to try to keep him from winning this battle.
Just knowing Satan's glee over our sins should give us an added incentive to hold our tongues when anger assails us. Ecclesiastes 5:6 exhorts us, "Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin." Believe me, I know how easy it is to give in to the "drug" of anger that pulls us to self-righteous retaliation—after all, in a dispute I'm right and they're wrong. Right?
Some addictions are physical and only hurt us personally. Or at least that's what we would like to think. But addictions almost always hurt others, indirectly if not directly.
Also, every addiction harms us spiritually, since we are not in control of some aspect of our life—and God stresses that we are to control what we think as well as what we do. Anger, especially uncontrolled anger, holds the potential of harming another person or, at the very least, harming our relationship with others. Psalm 15:1-3 asks, "Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?" The answer is: "…He who does not backbite not with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor…"
The children of men say, "Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?" (Psalm 12:1-4). Well? Who is Lord over us? I hope we will see how dangerous anger, especially uncontrolled anger, is to our spiritual life. Harsh words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1).
God watches to see how we will use our tongue. He says the tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness.
Be careful! May God grant us the strength to control our anger.
This article appears in the following topics: Addictions