Summary: Pastor shares his own struggles with anger and how some inappropriate behavior spilled out because of not handling the anger well. Then a discussion follows concerning how we should managage our anger.
An Experience with Anger
Hillbilly Revenge video from Sermon Spice
Granny & I have a lot in common. We both get angry.
I was angry all last week. Do you want to hear about it? I can’t give you all the details because that wouldn’t be fair to the other party. I need you to know that it has nothing to do with anybody you know or anything to do with this church. But it matters a lot to me personally.
Early in the week, about Tuesday or Wednesday, the other party made a decision. The decision significantly impacts my future; and I did not feel it was a just decision. I tried to reason with the other party; but my appeal was ignored and the legal technicality was enforced. I had hit a brick wall. There was nothing I could do about the decision. I was mega ticked!!!
I am pleased to report that during my appeal I asserted my thoughts calmly and clearly. I did not lose my temper or lash out at the other party. That was not because I’m so righteous but because I knew that would only make matters worse for me. So here I am with an unjust decisions and I can’t do a thing about it.
What comes next? I simply told myself to forget it; it’s no big deal! A lot of times, that’s how I deal with disappointment. And as I continue with this story, you will see the flaw in that approach.
Let me tell you about the next two nights. I tossed and turned all night. About every two hours I would wake up thinking about that situation. It would take me 20 or 30 minutes to get back to sleep each time. Of course, I tried to pray each time. But my prayers would usually gravitate toward a request that God would show them how wrong they were. I don’t think the prayers were working very well. Somehow counting backwards from 1000 usually helped me get back to sleep.
When I woke up Friday morning I felt totally exhausted. The sleep depravation had taken its toll physically. My mind was in a fog; and I couldn’t do the more complex jobs. So I decided to return a few items to the store. In retrospect, I would say I wasn’t in any condition to do that either. But before I tell you what happened there, I want you to look with me at Ephesians 4:26-27.
“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold” (NIV).
NKJV says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.”
I take from that verse 3 thoughts:
(1) We all experience anger: “In your anger....”
(2) We are all responsible for how we manage our anger: “and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath...”
(3) We give the devil a foothold in our lives if we don’t manage it right: “nor give place to the devil.”
I. What is anger?
Anger is an emotion that is built into our construction. Scientists have identified specific areas of our brain that are responsible for an anger response. They can stimulate anger in the laboratory simply by using electronic instruments.
Of course, that physical response is usually stimulated by our thoughts. All your emotions are stimulated by thoughts. That’s why we need to have our minds renewed; because we can’t control our emotions directly. We manage our emotions by managing our thoughts. Think about it. If you were to set your mind on some unjust, personal offense and think about that for awhile, you would become angry. The more you dwell on the injustice the more angry you’d become. Access to our emotions is through our thought life. That’s where Phil 4:8 addresses the thought-life. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such thing.” (NIV)
Anger is a God-given capacity with a purpose. At its most basic level, it helps us survive. It energizes our physical strength to protect ourselves and our loved ones if needed. Parents, what would happen if you saw an adult walk up and, for no reason at all, slap your child on the face? You would immediately experience a physical change. Your blood pressure would go up, adrenalin would rush through your body and you would be ready to defend your kid from that bully. Anger activates your system to act.
God gets angry and we are made in His image. It was a good thing for Jesus to get angry at the money changers in the Temple. That anger energized him to drive those people out of the House of God. What was Jesus angry about in that situation? He was angry for the honor of the Father. His actions were not self-serving but were subject to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. My subject this morning is not about righteous anger. I simply want you to make an important distinction.