Summary: This sermon addresses how to deal with your anger in a God pleasing way.
September 11, 2005 Ephesians 4:25-32
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “Be angry but do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not leave space for the devil. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any rotten talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Have you ever noticed how angry people are today? Turn on any talk show and you’ll hear a whole litany of angry people sounding off their frustrations left and right. People are angry because the cart won’t roll right. Angry because they got mustard on their hamburger when they didn’t ask for any. Angry because the line is lasting too long. So they yell at the cashier. They ask for the manager to complain about the poor service. It just goes on and on and on.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes anger is justified. We bought a pre-assembled bicycle from Wal-mart and the steering wheel was not tightened as it should have been. As my son was riding it he couldn’t turn and fell down - lightly scraping his hands. I was a little bit angry about that, as well I should have been. I don’t like the fact that they are building a Hooters down the road. It angers me a bit. We live in a sinful world, and there are things that will naturally make us angry. I’m sure you have a whole litany of things that make you angry. Maybe it’s the fact that your husband doesn’t talk as much as he could. Maybe it’s because your kids aren’t listening to you like they should. It’s par for the course that something or someone is going to anger you. The question that Paul brings up in today’s text is - “how do you deal with it without sinning?” Paul says,
Be Angry But Don’t Sin
I. The blunt approach
Some people take the blunt approach to anger. By blunt I mean like pulling out a big old rubber mallet hammer and feeling free to swing it. Maybe you’re one of those people. If you don’t like the wife fixed her hair, you’ll tell her. If you don’t think your boss should have hired your co-worker, you won’t think twice about telling him. I’ll never forget when I had a call and I asked for some feedback from the congregation, an elderly gentleman raised his hand and flat out told me in front of the whole congregation, “I was really hoping you would leave.” He honestly didn’t care what anyone thought. Come hell or high water he was gonna “tell it the way it is.” It seems like the older people get the more blunt they get. I guess after having lived for so many years the elderly like to cut to the chase.
What motivates blunt people? I’m sure everyone has different motivations. Maybe people have been brutally honest with you, and you figure, “I’m going to dish it right back!” Maybe you’re proud of the fact that you are what you consider a straight shooter. You believe in your mind that you are demonstrating a rare gift of courage that is not seen in a politically correct society. You may believe that you need to be blunt to wake people up, since they don’t listen to innuendos anymore. Some would say that takes guts to be blunt. That’s true. Yet it’s also true that I don’t need to go up to an ugly person and tell her she’s ugly just to prove my courage. If I tell it like it is because I am trying to convince myself that I’m bold like God wants me to be, then my motivation is to try and impress God by my works. God’s Word also says,
Proverbs 11:12 A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.
Proverbs 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
Whereas we need people to be blunt with us at times, it usually isn’t a good thing. Paul says, “Do not let any rotten talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” When you find yourself blowing off hot air simply because you can’t hold it in, you are sinning - producing rotten talk. When you are being brutally honest with people just to try and prove yourself, you end up becoming nothing more than a self righteous jerk. Why? Because you aren’t doing it to help anybody. You’re just using that person as your punching bag or your proving ground! Your anger is doing nothing but making you feel better about yourself. God forgive all of us for such self righteous “honesty.”