06. Temper Troubles

Note: These scenarios are not gender-specific. Depending on the sex of the person reading this, male and female roles can be switched.

You are having a great week. You haven't lost your temper even once and are very happy at the self-control you have exercised – very much in keeping with what God has asked of you (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Then, your wife comes along and, without any reason, accuses you of having an affair with the next-door neighbor. She refuses to stop badgering you, and you get angrier by the second. This is what you do:

a. You yell at your wife to shut up (perhaps slapping her for additional emphasis), then blame her for provoking you into getting angry.

b. You leave the house and go for a long drive giving her – and you! – time to cool off.

c. You try to stay calm and refuse to get provoked no matter what she does.

d. You decide that since you are being accused of having an affair, you might as well go out and have one.

The situation speaks of an unfounded accusation made by an unreasonable wife, but you can substitute the reason with any other (such as intense nagging about a refusal to lend a hand with the chores, not taking the family out on vacation, or a hundred different things) and still respond with anger.

Many people believe it is okay to get angry and even resort to violence if provoked beyond reason. If you subscribe to this theory, please understand that you will never be able to respond in any way other than with anger. Option (a) becomes the automatic choice you exercise, and you can forget all about developing the self-control you want to develop!

The only way you will be able to rein in your temper is if you believe that it is possible to keep your anger under control and then determinedly try your best to do so. This is not going to be easy, but it is possible.

Here are a few things to keep in mind. Some are practical pieces of advice, and some are merely to encourage you to try harder! They all worked for me.

  1. There is an enemy out there – a defeated enemy at that – who doesn't want you to do anything God wants you to do. Do you really want him to get the better of you?
  2. The same enemy knows how you react to certain situations. He knows which buttons to press to make you blow your top. Change the way you react when the buttons are pressed. He gets confused.
  3. Love doesn't depend on the actions of somebody else. So if you decide to love somebody, you have to do so regardless of what that person does.
  4. Do you claim to be full of the Holy Spirit? Self-control is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If you lack self-control, you cannot claim to be full of the Spirit.
  5. Pray! While all the above helped me gain control over my temper, what really got me victory was time spent with God in prayer. The same goes for just about everything else, actually.

Until you learn to control your temper, option (b) is something that you could possibly exercise. There is a couple somewhere in the Chicago area who exercised this option to great success, recently celebrating 50 years of married life. They used to go out for a drive every time they found themselves getting angry with each other. I believe they spent more time in the car than in the house!

Option (d) might seem like it was added there for a joke, but I've actually heard somebody justify his affair by saying he was accused into starting it!

Option (c) is the ideal response, but it requires a great deal of self-control and spiritual maturity. As James 1:19-20 reminds us, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."

Option (a) is never acceptable, as it involves verbal and physical abuse. Blaming others for our own lack of self-control is a sign of immaturity and a refusal to take responsibility for our actions.


  1. Remember your enemy: Recognize that the enemy seeks to provoke you to anger and destroy your witness. Resist his schemes by choosing to respond with love and self-control.
  2. Change your reactions: When you find yourself in situations that typically trigger your anger, consciously choose to react differently. Take deep breaths, count to ten, or walk away to cool down.
  3. Love unconditionally: Remember that true love is not dependent on the actions of others. Choose to love and extend grace even when others provoke you or treat you unfairly.
  4. Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit: Seek to grow in your relationship with the Holy Spirit, allowing him to develop the fruit of self-control in your life.
  5. Pray for strength: Regularly ask God for the strength and wisdom to control your temper. Spend time in prayer and meditation on his Word, allowing his peace to fill your heart and mind.
  6. Seek accountability: Share your struggle with a trusted friend or mentor who can pray for you and hold you accountable in your journey toward greater self-control.

Controlling our temper is a crucial aspect of our Christian witness and a sign of spiritual maturity. While it is not always easy, with God's help and a commitment to growth, we can learn to respond to provocation with love, patience, and self-control. By cultivating a close relationship with the Holy Spirit, changing our reactions, and seeking accountability, we can overcome the temptation to lash out in anger and instead reflect the righteousness that God desires in our lives.