Summary: Anger is caused, trained & maintained by learned reactions or interactions with life. Though a state of arousal can be bio-chemical in nature what we do with our heighten state is a conditioned response. Anger is a choice that becomes shaped by one’s resp
[Resolving Life Issues Series] EPHESIANS 4: 26-31
ALTERING YOUR ANGER
Anger is an intense emotional reaction sometimes expressed in open behavior and sometimes remaining mostly an unexpressed feeling. Anger is not only emotional it is biochemical as well. Anger triggers the human bodies defensive system. Adrenalin is pumped into the blood stream and sets off the flight or fight response. Blood pressure increases, eyes are dilated for better peripheral vision, and the muscles are supplied with a sudden burst of energy. It is an emotional and physical readiness to be aggressive.[That highly alert state of chemical arousal can be addictive. It gives more energy and attentiveness that caffeine and can be accompanied by a sense of strength.]
Anger is a universal human experience that is found in varying degrees in any personality and temperament - shy or extroverted, perfectionist or laid-back and it can be expressed in many ways. What makes anger so elusive and so incredibly dangerous is that it flares suddenly, powerfully, and often irrationally. It is caused, trained, and maintained by learned reactions or interactions with life. Though a state of arousal can be bio-chemical in nature what we do with our aroused state is a conditioned response. Anger is a choice that becomes shaped by one’s responses to life (CIM).
Today people’s fuze between anger that explodes into rage is short. Forces loose in our culture have driven anger to new levels. People now live angry lives. Exploding with horn, hand jester, or tongue readily. Everyone knows that explosive substances are dangerous, not only to the targets, but to those who set them off, as well as innocent bystanders. Anger is an acid that harms the vessel in which it is stored more than the person on whom it is poured. Angry people are even more dangerous to themselves than to others.
We need to turn to God’s Word to deliver us from the anger epidemic of our age. So let’s learn today how to Alienate our Anger from us.
I. RECOGNIZING SINLESS ANGER, 26a.
This section of Ephesians give some specific directions for living the new life Christ has given us. This involves putting away certain things, and beginning to act and relate in certain ways. The new ways of acting and relating are signs of our new life in Christ. The exhortation in verse 26 is toward controlling anger. “Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the Devil an opportunity.”
Not everything that is identified under the heading of anger (such as frustrations, irritability, annoyance, embarrassment, rejection, or blowing off steam), are violations of God’s law. Yet when we are anger or dealing with its cousins we are far more likely to sin that when we are not. The word “anger” is just one letter short of “danger.” A Chinese proverb says, “Anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.”
Anger itself though is not a bad thing. There is such a thing as righteous anger or indignation. Remember that Jesus Himself could be angry (Mk. 3:5). Jesus was angry about people preventing God’s Word from being freely shared (Mt. 18:6). When He overturned tables in the temple, He was not angry because His feelings were hurt, or because He felt ignored. He was angry when people were being hindered from worshiping the Father in His house (Jn. 2:14-15). Christ was angry because people opposed the issues about which God cares [Mt. 23:13-36]. His righteous anger was directed at injustice against people and sin against God. His anger was not about things done to Him, but about God. [Jeremiah, David. Slaying the Giants in Your Life. W Publishing. Nashville, TN. 2002. P. 109]
Sadly our anger is about personal issues not about issues that promote sin against God. We feel little emotion for starving or homeless children, child abuse, abortion of infants, persecution of Christians abroad, or people dying without hearing the Gospel. Righteous anger is never about ourselves, it is forgetful of self. Appropriate anger is disciplined into the service of Christ and our fellow man. It is utterly pure and selfless and is one of the great dynamic forces in the world. It stands against oppression and cruelty and is a catalyst for change.
Aristotle said “a man who is angry on the right grounds, against the right persons, in the right manner, at the right moment and for the right length of time, deserves praise.” This is the anger Jesus embodied.
II. RESOLVE / RESTRICT OUR ANGER, 26b.
We are also warned here to RESOLVE OUR ANGER before it takes control of us. We are not to let the sun go down on our anger. God does not want us to repress it, but to resolve our anger without improperly venting it or blasting away. Release this aroused energy in useful ways instead of harmful ways.