Summary: Anger festers inside a man to dull his spirit.
1500 years ago Pope Gregory the Great took a list of seven sins and listed them in a Church catechism. He had reduced the number of deadly sins from 8 to 7 when he listed them in the church’s teaching. The 8th sin that was dropped from the list was the sin of people who sing bad solo’s in church. I’m just kidding, (vainglory) but since those times the church universal has held this list which is called “The Seven Deadly Sins.” We have looked at Pride, Greed, Envy, and today, Anger then there is Sloth, Lust, and Gluttony.
We know as believers that rather than sin we are to develop virtues of godliness. The early Church fathers also listed the corresponding virtues., instead of pride - humility, instead of greed – generosity, instead of envy – love, instead of anger God wants kindness, then zeal self-control, and temperance – corresponding to sloth, lust and gluttony.
This is a tough for sermon to preach because quite frankly I struggle with this one more than some others, though all the sins appeal to all of us. Anger can churn inside while on the exterior I remain pleasant. Someone in the church said to me last week, after your sermon on envy, I have to confess I am envious. I said, “Join the club. All seven sins appeal to all of us. Don’t be foolish and think you are not tempted. These seven deadly sins are attractive to all of us.
Most of us have the impression that all anger is sinful and that Christians are to be bland and almost emotionless. To be angry we think is to lack intelligence. I remember my mother constantly quoting Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” And a lot of Christians lift out that verse all by itself and with a broad brush paint believers to be milk-toast wimps.
But the Bible tells us that at times Christians are to be angry against evil and injustice but they are not to sin. Anger against unrighteousness, under control is a powerful motivator.
Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.”
I remember one of the first stories I learned in Sunday School as a child was the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. You can find the story in Mark 11. Jesus saw the dishonest moneychangers in the temple courts and he then physical picked up a whip and drove out the animals and turned over the tables of the merchants. When I was a child in the church all I knew from that story is that when special musical guests came to the church they could sell their 8-track tapes or records in the church building they would set up their display table on the front porch of the church.
Jesus was perfect, he never sinned and yet in that story he was angry. He was physically expressive. There is a place for the believer to show righteous indignation. God gave us the emotion of anger to motivate us to do something about sin and injustice. If you are a Christian and you never get expressive about partial birth abortion or child abuse or racism or government corruption that hurts people in the public you probably don’t have a spiritual pulse. God himself gets angry, One time when the nation of Israel has traveled far into sin Isaiah prophesied in 5:25 “Therefore the LORD’S anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down.”
Sinful anger though can damage us greatly. We know that from science. One anger management firm stated that “one out of every five Americans has an anger management problem.” According to FBI statistics, there were 23,305 homicides in 1994 and the most common reason was arguments occurring in the home (28%). Gang related killings accounted for only 7.6%.
Anger related violence is the reason stated for 22% of divorces of middle-class marriages.
Studies show that 79% of violent children witnessed some form of violence between their parents.
From 1995 to 2001 there were 1655 incidents of “air rage,” directing anger toward airline employees - according to FAA records.
The phrase "road rage" officially entered the English language in 1997 when it was first listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. We have known for some time that physical problems like ulcers, high blood pressure, possible strokes, and depression are often associated with anger but recently a University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. It found that teenagers, who don’t manage their anger, are at a higher risk for weight gain than those who do.
Spiritually, anger causes us to lose our joy in Christ, we destroy relationships with other people, we can ruin our witness through explosive fits of rage; James says, that a man who can control his tongue really is a perfect man, but he also says the tongue cannot be tamed. How many of us have said things in anger to hurt or intimidate others. One of the great consequences of anger is that it can put down roots of bitterness and resentment in our life so deep that we can be soured and distorted in our spirit for years to come.