Summary: Lent 4: Anger is a powerful emotion that can damage relationships and lives. In Christ, God gives us the capacity to deal with our feelings of anger.
Malcolm, a man with a terrible temper, was playing a round of golf with his pastor. After leaving three straight putts on the edge of the cup, Malcolm exploded. “I missed!” he screamed. “How could I miss?” With that he heaved his putter into a nearby lake, kicked a wheel on the golf cart and drove his fist into a nearby tree. The pastor was shocked. “Why I’ve never seen such a terrible display of anger,” he said to Malcolm. “Don’t you know that God doesn’t like it when we are angry? I have heard that there are angels whose one assignment is to search out people who express their anger so ferociously and to send lightning bolts from heaven to burn them to a crisp.”
Malcolm was embarrassed. Heeding the warning of Pastor, on the next few holes, he managed to control himself. However, on the last three holes his putting failed him again. When the last putt veered off to the right just in front of the hole, Malcolm went crazy. “I missed!” he screamed. “How could I miss?” He broke his club across his knee and threw it as far as he could. He kicked up several large clumps of dirt on the edge of the green, and once more drove his fist into a nearby tree. Suddenly the sky grew dark as an ominous cloud passed over. There was a clap of thunder and an awesome burst of lightning-and the pastor was burned to a crisp! An eerie silence filled the golf course. All that could be heard was a voice from heaven saying: “I missed! How could I miss?” (Contributed by David Lansdown, SermonCentral PRO)
Today we are going to talk about an emotion that is really tough to understand - anger. Most of us have felt it. Most of us have been on the receiving end of it. Many people have an anger response when they are actually feeling something else. By that I mean that many people express things like hurt feelings or embarrassment with anger instead of showing their true feelings – especially us guys.
I don’t understand how anger can well up so quickly, often even against those whom we love. This message will consider anger from a few perspectives. First, is there such a thing as righteous anger? Or we could ask this question this way: Does God get angry? Secondly, what do the Scriptures teach us about expressing our anger? And finally, what’s the ultimate solution for folks that have a hard time dealing with anger?
In verse one of our text from Isaiah, we read: “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away that you might comfort me.” (Isaiah 12:1) Have you ever thought about God being angry? It is a frightening thought to think of a being that is all-powerful - God - expressing anger. Remember Moses at the burning bush? When Moses stubbornly refused to obey God, the Bible says this: “Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses.” (Exodus 4:14) Would you want to be in Moses’ shoes at that time? Not me!
God has the capacity to feel anger – a holy anger that is much different than ours. It’s an anger that is kindled by sin. It’s an anger that is fiercest when his people - the redeemed - pursue other gods. He is enraged when we forsake Him. When God told his people, “You shall have no other gods,” He also warned them: “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…” (Exodus 20:5b) And when the Israelites trusted the Baals and put up pagan idols, God’s fury burned against them. He permitted trials and suffering to come into their lives. His wrath burned against their idolatry.
How about the most humble and meekest of servants – Jesus? Remember that day in the Temple? When Jesus saw God’s house being defiled, He was enraged. Jesus felt a holy anger because the things of God were reduced to cheap mercantilism. He took a scourge and overturned the tables of the money changers and drove people out of the temple.
God’s holiness is offended at idolatry and sinfulness and worship that is impure. It’s been that way from the time of Moses until today. When Jesus made a way for people to have a relationship with God through the Cross, people found another way to make God angry. In fact, one of the scariest verses in the entire Bible speaks of God’s wrath at the willful rejection of his mercy to us in Christ. The writer of Hebrews says:
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)