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Deepak Reju is the editor of a new 31-day devotional series written by different biblical counselors. There are nine volumes so far, and I hope there will be many more. Robert Jones, associate professor of biblical counseling at SBTS, has already written a book about uprooting anger, and has written this 31-day devotional about an emotion that all people everywhere at all times have and do and will experience in many different forms, from annoyance to frustration, from displeasure to wrath, from fury to vexation through their relationships with different people: parents, spouses, children, strangers, employers, the government, roadside work, and so on.
Jones doesn’t write this devotional with the expectation that you will be immediately changed, and neither should you read it with that goal. What lies behind anger is your problem with God, that he isn’t doing anything about your situation, and that his position of power isn’t yours. Your anger came about over time, and it won’t be fixed in a few weeks.
- Foundational Helps (Days 1–6)
- Righteous Anger (Days 7–11)
- Addressing the Heart (Days 12–18)
- Angry Behavior and Godly Replacements (Days 19–27)
- Anger at Yourself, God, and Children (Days 28–31)
Jones has been a biblical counselor for thirty years, and he has written a book on anger. Those two help make this a solid, well-thought, nuanced devotional. You don’t get simplistic advice. When writing about James 4:1-2, he writes that James doesn’t give simplistic answers either. James doesn’t advise us to “‘Just say no,’ ‘Stop it,’ ‘Give it to Jesus,’ ‘Nail it to the cross,’ or ‘Pray it through at the altar'” (45). The trouble is that “you can’t just switch off your anger” (46). Why is this?
We are made in God’s image, “we are not passive machines but active moral responders who are accountable to God” (44). Things don’t make us angry. When things don’t go our way, they help us reveal that we are angry. Our inner desires come out through our words, tones, and actions and show that we are angry. Our anger “comes from the desires that battle within us” (45).
Here James’ epistle is helpful. While he doesn’t give simple answers, “neither does he advance some ancient psychoanalytic theory that roots the cause of inaccessible forces that lurk deeply within some murky region of the soul and are unlockable only by a trained therapist” (46). So why do you get angry?
You don’t get what you want.
Jones then encourages you to figure out what lies you believe. What are your desires, and why do you become angry when they aren’t met? In what ways do you think the world revolves around you?
How do you respond when you don’t get what you want, even if it is a good thing? (1) Do you obsess over it? (2) Do you manipulate or “guilt” someone in order to get it? (3) Do you pull away from or attack the person who won’t give in? What do you pray for? You remember your “Foundational Helps” from the first few days of the book. You are reminded who Jesus is, what he has done for you, and how you can put off and put on the new person that you are in Christ. In putting on your new characteristics and attitudes, you get a grip on your anger. You talk with the person you are angry at. You seek reconciliation. You seek contentment so when annoying situations come up, you don’t fly off the handle or say something you will soon regret.
Jones finishes the month on what to do when you are angry with yourself, angry at God, how to lament well, and he gives a plea to parents to deal with their anger so that children will not suffer under it. He concludes with where you should go now, ending with an encouragement that anger can be defeated.
Each day ends with a gray box encouraging you to reflect on Scripture and one way you can act on what you read that day.
This book is an excellent book. I can tell Jones has thought deeply about this subject. My wife has had him for a few counseling classes, and his class notes are packed with insights, examples, and wise ideas. Though you could read this daily, you don’t need to feel pressure to read it every day. If you miss a day, it’s OK. As Jones writes, “God is in no hurry to rush you through this book” (12). Take your time. Dwell on what Jones says. Write out your thoughts. Think through what triggers you, and work on your anger in God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s power. What you are looking for is a decreased frequency of angry feelings, a decreased intensity in how it is expressed, a decreased duration of episodes, and a decrease in the types of occasions (the different ways you are triggered). As you walk with the Lord and work on what leads to your anger, I hope you will find that you run to God more quickly than before and are less angry than you were before. Take this, read, and pick up Jones’ Uprooting Anger.
- Series: 31-Day Devotionals For Life
- Authors: Robert D. Jones
- Paperback: 104 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing (May 1, 2019)
- Read an excerpt here
- An interview with Robert Jones
Buy it from Amazon or P & R Publishing!
Disclosure: I received this book free from P & R Publishing. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.