Summary: Three essential ingredients in getting rid of hostility and anger.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
ILL. I want to read a letter this morning that was written to Ann Landers & printed in one of her columns.
"Dear Ann Landers, I am a 46-year-old woman, divorced, with 3 grown children. After several months of chemotherapy following a mastectomy for breast cancer, I was starting to put my life back together when my doctor called with the results of my last checkup. They had found more cancer, & I was devastated.
"My relatives had not been supportive. I was the first person in the family to have cancer & they didn’t know how to behave toward me. They tried to be kind, but I had the feeling they were afraid it was contagious. They called on the phone to see how I was doing, but they kept their distance. That really hurt.
"Last Saturday I headed for the laundromat. You see the same people there almost every week. We exchange greetings, & make small talk. So I pulled into the parking lot, determined not to look depressed, but my spirits were really low.
"While taking my laundry out of the car, I looked up & saw a man, one of the regulars, leaving with his bundle. He smiled & said, `Good morning. How are you today?’ Suddenly I lost control of myself & blurted out, `This is the worst day of my life! I have more cancer!’ Then I began to cry.
"He put his arms around me & just let me sob. Then he said, `I understand. My wife has been through it, too.’ After a few minutes I felt better, stammered out my thanks, & proceeded on with my laundry.
"About 15 minutes later, here he came back with his wife. Without saying a word, she walked over & hugged me. Then she said, `I’ve been there, too. Feel free to talk to me. I know what you’re going through.’ Ann, I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. Here was this total stranger, taking her time to give me emotional support & courage to face the future at a time when I was ready to give up.
"Oh, I hope God gives me a chance to do for someone else what that wonderful woman & her husband did for me. Meanwhile, Ann, please let your readers know that even though there are a lot of hardhearted people in this world, there are some incredibly generous & loving ones, too."
A. There are a lot of different kinds of people in the world, aren’t there? The apostle Paul wrote these words in his letter to the Ephesians: "Do not let any unwholesome 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... Get rid of all bitterness, rage & anger, brawling & slander, along with every form of malice" [Ephesians 4:29,31].
ILL. There are times, when I come to church on Sunday, that I notice faces. You would be amazed at how sometimes people come to church with scowls on their faces, angry at the world. Husbands & wives walk in, almost afraid to look at each other, & children are staring daggers at one another. It makes me wonder what kind of conversation they had around their breakfast table, or on their way to church.
Even more, I wonder what kind of worship they are going to have if they come into God’s house in that frame of mind.
B. We see people all around us bitter & angry: angry at the world because it hasn’t given them enough; angry at God because they think He hasn’t treated them fairly; angry at their spouses because marriage is not everything they expected it to be; angry at their children; angry at their neighbors; angry at their job. Angry!
So Paul gives a survival message that says, "If you want to make it, you can’t live like that any longer because it’ll eat you alive."
Then he gives the antidote. To get rid of your hostility, your anger, your unwholesome words, here is what you do - "Be kind & compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" [Eph. 4:32].
PROP. Did you catch that? The 3 essential ingredients in getting rid of hostility & anger are: #1, be kind to one another; #2, be compassionate towards one another; #3, forgive one another.
I. BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER
A. #1, "Be kind to one another." Kindness is almost a lost art today, isn’t it? So many people are rude & self-centered, worried about themselves, & not worried very much about others.
ILL. I have a friend who, with the help of his wife, teaches a young married couples class. He grew up in the era when men were supposed to be polite to the female gender, back when you were supposed to open doors, hold the chair, & treat the women with great respect, whether it was your mother, your wife, your girlfriend, or even your sister. No matter who they were, you were always supposed to be kind & courteous to women.