Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Stoics’ Solutions to the Anger Problem

The Stoic offers excellent, but perhaps inadequate advice for handling anger:

·       Resist our natural tendency to assume the worst about others.

·       Things that cause us anger often turn out not to actually do us any real harm, as they are more likely to be mere annoyances.

·       "Furthermore, as Seneca observes, “our anger invariably lasts longer than the damage done to us.” What fools we are, therefore, when we allow our tranquility to be disrupted by minor things."

·       Our own behavior is likely to anger others. As Seneca put it: “We are bad men living among bad men, and only one thing can calm us — we must agree to go easy on one another.”

But I have to make an admission to you. This wise advice is not enough for me. In addition, I need to know that God is in control. This is the only way that I can relax my grip. I have to know that God is in control of the justice part, and He will avenge:

·       Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. (Romans 12:17-19; Also, see Romans 13:1-4 where God avenges through the criminal justice system.)

·       Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Without this knowledge, I am prone to take justice into my own hands, even if I know that it will harm me. The indignation is that powerful!

I also need to know that my Lord has me entirely covered and even has a good purpose for the abuse I might receive:

·       For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:19-21)

Only with these assurances can I stand against the growing horrors of this world.

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