Summary: Part 2 of series Emotions, this message deals with Anger and a prescription for dealing with it found in Psalm 37.
Anger: Taking a “Chil” Pill:
Emotions, part 2
Wildwind Community Church
With Thanksgiving being Thursday and Thanksgiving weekend actually being next week, I want to talk to you about something we’re not really all that thankful for this morning. We’re in a series on emotions right now and next week we’ll look at joy, but today I want to deal with the subject of anger.
I did not misspell the word chill, and I’m not just being cute here today. The word “chil” (c-h-i-l) is a Hebrew word that has everything to do with what we need to do with our anger. I’m so excited to talk to you about chil-ing this morning, but that’s going to come a little bit later.
First I want to ask you, do you struggle with anger? Here are some questions to help you know for sure if you struggle with anger (though most of you who do already know). Do you find that anger is your first response to many situations and then, later when you think about it, you realize that you’re actually hurt, or disappointed, or embarrassed? Has anger ever caused you to do something violent to someone you love? To yourself? Does anger feel like it suddenly takes you over and makes you do things? When you think about most of the things you regret doing and saying, were they done and said in moments of anger? Does your anger make you “talk” to people who can’t hear you, like other drivers on the freeway or ball players (or umpires) on TV? Are you a yeller? Does your spouse tell you to stop yelling at him/her at times when you don’t think you’re yelling at all?
If you answered yes to a couple of these, chances are good you struggle with anger. Chances are also very good that the majority of you are guys, but more women struggle with anger than you would think. In one survey, when a large sample of children were asked, “What one thing do you wish was different about your life?” 90% of small children replied, “I wish my mommy didn’t yell so much.”
Today I want to take yelling seriously for the sin that it almost always is. Did you hear that? Anger is almost always sin. I’ll bet some of you are really ticked off that I said that. But it’s true. Almost always. Biblically, we see that it is possible for us to be angry and not sin – that sin and anger don’t always necessarily go hand in hand.
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)
26 "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.
The Apostle Paul quotes here from Psalm 4:4. He warns us not to let the sun go down while we are angry. Remember that Paul was a Jew, and the start of the Jewish day begins at sundown. In our society we interpret this as “do not end the day in anger,” but Paul was actually saying, “Don’t begin the day in anger.” I think we would be wise to neither begin nor end the day in anger. In verse 27 we see the problem with anger and that’s what I want to talk to you about today. “Do not give the devil a foothold.” The problem with anger is that it has a unique capacity to lead to various kinds of sin – the devil uses it to get a foothold in our lives. This is why we should be intolerant of anger in our lives. Most of us DO sin in our anger. In fact, most of the time when we are angry, our anger itself stems from sin that is already in our heart. Let’s look at our key text for this morning, Psalm chapter 37, verses 1-8.
Psalms 37:1-8 (NASB)
1 Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
2 For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
The Apostle Paul in our verse from Ephesians said that it’s possible to be angry and not sin. But the Psalmist here is saying anger leads ONLY to evildoing. Which is it? The answer is that it’s both. The Psalmist is writing here about the kind of anger that you and I deal with in our lives most of the time, and that is an anger that is basically a reflection of our own human pride. We see that at the beginning in verse 1, and at the end in verse 7. Verse 1, do not fret because of evildoers. The word “fret” here is from the Hebrew word “charah,” which means “to burn or be kindled with anger, but also carries with it the sense of competing with someone. Do not fret, do not be angry with evildoers and feel you are competing with them for good things in life. Verse 7, do not fret (or sense you are competing) with the wicked person who seems to prosper in life.