The human body is a truly remarkable thing. In all of creation, there is nothing like it in appearance and complexity. Thinking on that I would have to say, of all the parts that make up our body one of the most, if not the most unique and complex part would have to be the heart. From an appearance perspective, it has been described in science as elegant. Regarding complexity, incomprehensible. It is a part that is felt and heard, not seen and to have this out of order would leave one absent of life. Matter of fact, in serving its purpose the heart brings life to all other parts of the body, warranting our understanding and protection.
As is the case with most complex things, the slightest change or imperfection is often enough to cause damage and with the heart, it is no different. Everything from smoking, to high blood pressure; from an unhealthy diet, to a lack of exercise; all have been proven causes that disease the heart resulting in what is now known as the silent killer, “Heart Disease”. But, in all I’ve learned about this illness and its causes, there was a cause that stood out, if not shocked me; that of unresolved anger and its impact on the body.
In his book “Deadly Emotions”, author Dr. Don Colbert said that he could tell kind of life a person lived the second he opened their chest and looked at their heart. He describes in detail how the arteries leading in and out of one’s heart would tell the story. Arteries that draped over his finger like a wet noodle spoke of a person whose life was full of love and joy. Those arteries that stood over his finger like a led pipe often spoke of a life full of anger and bitterness. He stated that it wasn’t the anger that was the issue for the heart, as anger is a God given human emotion. It was the chemicals anger produces in one’s body that put us in harm’s way. For the person with unaddressed, unchecked anger, long term exposure to chemicals like stress hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline can have a disastrous effect on the body and specifically the heart. This is what is going on inside our body but there are other affects that are worth addressing also.
Anger has its affect outside of the body. I’m sure you all can relate to something said or done in a moment of anger that has had a long-term effect; I know I have mine and many a jail cell is full of those whose anger got the best of them. Anger also has its effect on our spiritual heart. Scripture speaks of this heart in Psalm 73 v 26 in saying:
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
In this is the distinction between the physical and spiritual heart; the temporary and the eternal. For those whose anger has diseased their spiritual heart, depression reigns along with the deadly statistics that go with it. So, if anger is an emotion given to us by God, it should be understood as good, that it has value and purpose for our life. But, if exposure to it produces deadly effects on the scene and unseen areas of our lives, where is the balance? How do we check it and what should we do with it? Thankfully in Jesus we find answers to these important questions.
The first thing about anger is to remember what I had stated earlier in this write up; that anger is a God given emotion and that means there is a purpose for good. To salt this with God’s truth I refer to the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4 v 26 – 27:
“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”
Are you hearing that reader? Sometimes I read it and do a double take should my eyes deceive me. Paul does say, “Be Angry”. It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to be angry when we see injustice in the world; when we see bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. The great king Solomon laments on this reality in Ecclesiastes 8:14. The key for us is what we are going to do with the anger. Ephesians 4 v 26 states that we can’t let it lead us to sin; we must let it go. As Ephesians 4 v 27 states, holding it; holding onto the anger gives the devil a foot hold and where the devil is, death is there or not far behind.
Maybe your reading this and thinking you can’t relate. Maybe you’ve never struggled with anger like I and so many others have. If that is you I say hallelujah, praise the Lord. But, one thing I’ve learned about anger over the years is that is can be sneaky. It is deceptive; it likes to surprise you and catch you when you least expect it. Because it behaves like this, we must always be on our guard. We must, as Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4 v 23:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
We must protect our hearts from allowing anger to find rest because just like the blood in our physical heart, anger will flow out of our spiritual heart. How do we protect our hearts from allowing this to happen? Well, the answer might just shock you.
In the world of IT, the process of securing is affectionately known as hardening. If you want to protect a system or network from viruses, if you want to secure or lock it down, you must harden it and when it comes to our heart, it is shockingly no different. I say shockingly as scripture refers to a hardened heart as bad thing, like the pipe arteries of a person who held on to hate and anger for too long. But that is not what I’m referring to here. In this case I’m talking about how we as Christian’s protect our hearts from those things that would disease it. If antivirus software and firewalls are tools that can harden a system or network, what are the tools that can harden a heart? God provides the answer in his letter to the Galatians; an answer I have referred to many a times in my life.
Galatians 5 v 22 – 23 refers to the fruit the Spirit of Jesus Christ produces in the life of a believer. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. The end of verse 23 states that “Against such things there is no law.” There is absolutely nothing that can penetrate and disease a heart that is full of this fruit. Unlike the IT world, in Christ, 100% security is achievable. But, should you like to layer your security, one thing I would recommend adding would be forgiveness. This is often the main reason anger out stays its welcome. Jesus’s sacrifice has revealed the ultimate power of forgiveness to save; it is just a matter of one’s willingness to give it or to seek it. I can testify that His forgiveness has changed my life and continues to do so.
As I close this out, I can help but think of those in need of a new heart. You’ve been wanting to let go of your anger; you’ve held on so long. Turn to Jesus, confess your sin in this anger; profess your need for Him. Receive his forgiveness and the new eternally healthy heart that comes with it and then give it away to anyone in need. I will be praying for you reader; whoever you are, wherever you may be and ask that you pray for me too. We will celebrate together in eternity one day with the One who made it all possible.
God Bless – Sean Bosse