Summary: Learning how to control our anger through the Bible.
Sermon Number 3
January 10, 2010
John Hunter was an 18th century British surgeon, who suffered from angina. He realized most of his attacks were brought on by anger. Hunter lamented, “My life is at the mercy of any scoundrel who chooses to put me in a passion.” These words proved prophetic, because at a board meeting at St. George's Hospital in London, Hunter got into a heated argument, walked out, and dropped dead in the next room (Today in the Word, June 8, 1992).
Do you explode when you become angry? Do you even recognize when you are becoming angry? Did you know that when you’re angry — you body temperature and blood pressure increase, breathing quickens, your heart beats faster, and your muscles tighten.
Everyday we hear about acts of violence . . . murders, rapes, break-ins, emotional and physical abuse are only some of the violent acts we hear about. These crimes are examples of uncontrolled anger.
And everyday, in a neighborhood just like yours, a wife gets so angry with her husband that she says things to him she doesn’t mean, words which inflict deep wounds. Everyday a father gets so frustrated with his child’s unwillingness to listen that he jerks him harder than he should. He not only gains his son’s attention, but also his fear. Everyday angry people cause destruction to property and destruction to the hearts and spirits of people they claim to love. Everyday drivers use their cars as weapons; justifying their recklessness or just plain stupid driving. These are also the fruit of uncontrolled anger.
I would like to think these perpetrators are very different from us, that they are monsters. And some are. But more often than not, they’re common folks like you and I. They’re people who don’t know how to manage their anger.
For the past two weeks we’ve been looking at anger, and today we’ll conclude our series of talking about anger and for the next few weeks we will begin to look at what should come after anger . . . forgiveness.
We need to recognize that anger isn't always expressed outwardly to others. Sometimes anger is expressed inwardly and when that happens it will cause physical problems, stress, depression and a number of other medical, social, emotional, psychological and spiritual problems.
Do you remember the old program and movie, The Incredible Hulk? Do you remember what set the Hulk off? Anger! Bruce Banner turned from this scientist into a terrifying, scarey and destructive person. The reality for you and I is this: there are two people inside of us, one that's nice and sweet and normal, and one that can be Hulkish.
Today I want to look at ways that we can begin to manage our anger.
Our first glimpse into anger in the Bible comes in the story of Cain and Abel. When God accepts Abel’s offering and rejects Cain’s, Cain becomes angry and kills Abel. In Genesis 4, I love what God said to Cain,
6 "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
Those are powerful words from God. Please understand, God knew why Cain was angry, but He wanted Cain to understand the source and reason for his anger. In the same way God wants you and I to understand what leads us to become angry. If we don’t recognize the cues and trigger points, then we won’t be able to effectively manage our anger.
We need to recognize that God will always give us a way out of our situation, but that means we do what is right . . . according to God, not according to what we want. And when we don’t do what’s right, God is so right, sin is crouching at your door, just waiting to seize you, to control you and master you.
It’s striking that in the middle of the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us “Love is not easily angered.” Paul doesn't say ‘love doesn't get angry,’ because sometimes it does. Let’s face it, the people we’re most likely to get angry at, are those we love the most. But if we want healthy, safe and loving relationships; relationships that flourish, then we must not allow anger to control us, we must learn to control or manage our anger.
The first step is RECOGNIZE YOU ARE ANGRY.
If you don’t recognize you’re angry, you won’t be able to manage it in healthy ways.
Please understand we are a work in progress. It usually doesn’t happen overnight that you have a better handle on your anger. Even as you better understand your anger, there will be times when you’ll blow it, and those are the times when you need to look at the person you blew it with and ask for their forgiveness.