Dear Angry Person: Slow Down! (Groves/Smith)

Untangling Emotions By J. Alasdair Groves, Winston T. Smith cover image

Anger is often sinful and it typically leads a person to commit more sin. For example, Saul’s anger led him to throw a spear at David in attempt to kill him (1 Sam. 18:8-11). Proverbs condemns anger several times (e.g. 15:18, 22:24, 29:22). Paul lists “fits of anger” as one of the wicked works of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). Anger is not always sinful, but usually it is.

What should we as Christians do when we start to get angry and start to go into rage mode? This question could be well answered in several ways. Maybe you’ve thought of answers yourself! One answer I’ve found helpful is found in chapter 14 of Untangling Emotions:

As a rule, anger is dangerous. Here is the slightly more detailed rule of thumb: anger that you act on instinctively, without thinking it through, is so likely to be sinful and godless that you might as well say ‘always.’ If you want to live out of righteous anger, you need to start by slowing down. We’ll say it again: when you’re angry, slow down.

You will almost never go wrong by pausing before you act when you are angry. Anger in the raw, like radioactive uranium, is deadly unless harnessed with exquisite caution. If you bring it out into the open without careful preparation, you will poison everything within a ten-mile radius. If we turn back to the first chapter of James again, we find James making this same point right next to the verse about man’s anger not leading anywhere good. ‘Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,’ he urges (James 1:19)….

Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to slow down. Count to ten in your head before you respond. Take a deep breath. Talk about the matter later, after you’ve cooled down. In short, slowing down means taking time to think before you act when you are angry.

I like the simplicity of this! When you’re angry, just slow down. Sometimes it’s easier said than done! Yet slowing down is something that, with God’s help, we can do the next time we get angry and begin to make it a habit that will help us combat our sinful anger.

The above quote is found in J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith, Untangling Emotions, p. 179.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

2 Replies to “Dear Angry Person: Slow Down! (Groves/Smith)”

  1. This is vital information for those of us over a certain age; we assumed life, as before Covid-19, would go on, but everything is upended and change is accelerating at a lightning speed. I agree that slowing down, “with God’s help, we can do the next time we get angry and begin to make it a habit..”


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