Summary: Learn to resolve the emotion of anger
How many people in this room struggle with anger? Raise your hand. Some of you are thinking, I don’t struggle with anger; I let it out and get it out. Or, I don’t struggle with anger; I just don’t cooperate with the people I’m angry at. Or, I don’t struggle with anger; I never let it show. I keep my anger to myself.
Anger is something common to man and woman. But anger can be harmful to our physical health, to our spiritual life, and to our relationship with others. Anger can lead us to say or do things that we will later regret. Anger can lead to road rage. Anger can lead to child abuse or spouse abuse. Anger can lead to ulcers. Anger can lead to bitterness and depression.
Paul J. Meyer wrote, “As an author of business programs marketed in more than sixty countries, I have encountered numerous people in every culture who have shortened their careers, ambushed their futures, and stifled their personal progress because they could not handle their pent-up anger appropriately.”
Anger is universal, but most people don’t know how to deal with anger. Most teachers and parents do not teach us to handle our anger. They simply teach us not to express our anger. Over time, we habitually respond to anger in one of three ways. Spew out anger. Seep out anger. Or stuff in anger.
Spewing out anger is most commonly done at home. Rather than to blow up at work and lose your job, you blow up at home. Yell at the children. Complain about the cooking or cleaning. Throw, hit or kick furniture. You words and actions hurt others.
Seeping out anger can be done anywhere. Psychologists call this passive-aggressive behavior. You let out your anger in small, almost indiscernible form. You procrastinate, show up late or somehow interfere with the person you are angry at. You use mild sarcasm or uncooperativeness. Anger is seeping out in disguised form.
Stuffing in anger can also be done anywhere. This is a great danger for Christians, who mistakenly believe that anger is wrong and a sin. Anger is not a sin, but it can lead to sin. The Bible tells us, “In your anger do not sin.” The Bible does not say, “Do not be angry.” Stuffing in anger leads to emotional, spiritual and physical health problems.
Prisons are filled with people who did not deal with their anger, but let their anger spew out in violent acts. Schools and homes are filled with young people who do not deal with their anger, but let their anger seep out in uncooperative behaviors. Churches are filled with members who do not deal with their anger, but stuff their anger, until depression or bitterness replaces the anger.
This morning, we will be looking at how we can answer anger in a healthy and biblical way. We will not be addressing the causes of anger. There are many causes, fear, hurt, impatience, self-righteousness, jealousy, injustice, and much more. What we will address is how to work through the emotion of anger, so that you can discern the underlying cause of anger and have a clear head to deal with the causes. Because there are so many different causes of anger, we cannot address how to remove each cause in this short time.
Our text this morning is Job 12-14. Just reading these three chapters is quite therapeutic for me, because we can express anger vicariously through Job.
Can you tell that Job was angry? Angry with his so-called friends. Angry with God. But he did not sin. He handled his anger in a way that few of us do. Let’s take a closer look, and see if we can find help to answering anger in our own lives.
First, Job turned from people to God. We see this in chapters 12 and 13.
Job told his so-called friends what he thought about their condemnation, their “knickknack wisdom,” and their self-righteous attitude. Job clearly let them know he was angry with them. You might say that he vented his anger on the right people.
Many Christians do not confront the people who have wronged them. We are either afraid that confrontation would destroy our Christian witness or break the relationship. But Jesus tells us to confront the one who has wronged us.
Many times, we vent our anger on people who did not cause our anger. We vent our anger on people who are innocent or helpless to defend themselves. Because of my impatience at something undone at church or my hurt caused by someone at church, I often times will take out my anger on Esther. I would complain about her mess or her noise level. I would take away her privileges for the slightest irritation.