Angry Controlling People|
How to Respond
Q. My friend has become frightening to me. She is so touchy and irritable that almost anything I say sets her off. She repeatedly threatens suicide and it terrifies me. It seems manipulative. Any advice?
Thanks for your sincere question. It should help many of us because this is becoming a problem all over the country - even in our churches. Many people have short fuses and some are trying to end their lives.
No matter how much we wish it weren't so, there are many people who think everything revolves around them. This is a narcissistic trait. No matter what we say or how we say it they become angry and abusive and think we have singled them out. They are self-absorbed and selfish in the ways they behave and think.
For example, you might be surprised by how many of our readers think we are focusing upon them when we write articles. We answer one person's question and receive ten responses by people who think we are writing about them. (Still, we are truly glad if what we say helps others).
Last Days Traits
A passage in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 tells us that in the last days "people will be lovers of self …proud, arrogant, abusive…ungrateful…heartless, unappeasable…without self-control…"
That about says it, doesn't it?
Notice the word "unappeasable" in that verse. It means that no matter what you do you can't satisfy them. You can't pacify them by giving in to their demands.
Avoid Such People
The very next phrase from 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says to "avoid such people" (ESV). In other words, stay away from people who demonstrate these traits. That is good, commonsense advice.
Your friends's plea that she is suicidal may show a degree of manipulation in her behavior. We suspect she is trying to use guilt to force you into putting up with sinful behavior.
We can call it whatever we want, but sin is sin. Nowhere does the bible say we should deliberately put ourselves in emotionally abusive relationships.
Stay Away from Angry People
In general the Bible warns us that associating with people who are angry or unappeasable drags us down. Paul says, "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'" (1 Cor. 15:33).
"Don't make friends
with an angry man,
and don't be a companion
of a hot-tempered man,
or you will learn his ways
and entangle yourself
in a snare."
(Proverbs 22:24-25, HCSB)
In fact, the Bible notes that people who quickly lose their tempers are fools!
"A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted" (Proverbs 12:16).
"Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back" (Proverbs 29:11).
Thank goodness the Lord does not expect us to discern motives behind an angry person's tantrums or outbursts. We are simply told to avoid them. Instead, we are to be "fruit inspectors" and avoid those who produce bad fruit. Jesus said, "So then, you will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-20).
Each Accountable for Own Actions
Every single person on earth will be judged before God for his or her own actions. If a person threatens suicide in order to manipulate and control others it is their own responsibility - not yours.
Granted, this is very difficult - but it is the truth.
"Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts - and then each man's praise will come to him for God" (1 Corinthians 4:5).
No Time to Waste
So while Christians can attempt to help a mother who is grieving the loss of her husband or a child, for example, the church cannot help someone who has given themselves over to temper-tantrums or hostile behaviors no matter what the psychological reasons for such behaviors.
This is the difference between grief-stricken behaviors and rageful, uncontrolled outbursts.
Do you see the difference?
Call Suicide Prevention or the patient's therapist, if you must. But, leave it at that. Make prayer for this person your first priority. Then, move on with your life.
Time is Short
With so many hurting people throughout the world, we don't have time to waste around selfish, narcissistic people. You can be polite to your friend at potlucks or get-togethers at church. You can pray for her salvation. You can love her and pray blessings upon her. But, you don't have to become involved with her petty problems and behaviors.
With so many families losing their homes, so much poverty, thousands devastated by earthquakes, famine, tornados and other catastrophes, we need to focus our lives upon those people and situations that truly need our help and may benefit from it. Leave the rest to God.
"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15, NASB).
Freeman, Criswell. 2004. God's survival guide. Nashville, TN: Elm Hill Books.
Krus, John G. 1988. Quick Scripture reference for counseling. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.