Thursday, October 16, 2008

Watch out for anger

For behold, his designs were to stir up the Lamanites to anger against the Nephites; this he did that he might usurp great power over [the Lamanites], and also that he might gain power over the Nephites by bringing them into bondage. (Alma 43:8)
This scripture teaches me that I must be very careful when someone is trying to make me angry at another person. I’ve noticed that when I get angry, it is almost impossible for me to be fair or prevent myself from over-reacting.

The resurrected Jesus Christ talked about the dangers of anger when He visited the Nephites on the American continent. (He said some of the same things that He said during his mortal ministry):
21 Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God;
22 But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (3 Nephi 12:21-22, compare to Matthew 5:21-22)
According to the index, the work Raca suggests contempt in both Aramaic and Greek.

Anger puts us in danger of the judgment of God because when we are angry we almost always want to take it out on something or someone. When we take our anger out on people we do or say mean things, which is a sin. In the midst of anger, we don’t want to think about weighing our actions or making sure we don’t go too far, because that requires a cool head and careful thinking. We don’t want to think when we’re angry, we just want to act.

I think it is interesting that right after warning against anger, Christ also warns against name-calling. This is probably because name-calling tends to make other people angry, and also it is a manifestation of arrogance and pride.

A lot of people misunderstand the nature of pride. President Ezra Taft Benson gave an amazing talk in which he clarifies the danger of pride. I think pride and anger are very much connected. Thinking we are better than someone else, which is a big part of pride, opens the door for us to justify being angry with them.

I’ve found the best way I can overcome my anger is by praying.

I can remember when I found out my husband had done something that very much made me feel insecure. I was very angry with him, and it was a good thing he wasn’t around at the time. I paced around our apartment and I just couldn’t let go of it. I didn’t like what I was feeling and deep inside I felt that what I was angry about was actually really stupid (a pin I found in our bed). I didn’t want to be mad at my husband, because he is my best friend. So I prayed about it. I told Heavenly Father all about how I felt and that I didn’t want to feel that way and I asked for help to not be angry any more. And gradually I simmered down. When my husband came home, I was able to express myself on the issue kindly, without heat, and reasonably.