Summary: We are born with them. We are often driven by them. Our emotions can help us and hurt us. The real challenge? Can our emotions help us Make a Difference?
Pt. 1 - Get a Grip!
There are a lot of ways to say it. I "fly off the handle." I have a short fuse. I'm about to flip out. I'm hot under the collar. I'm about to have a cow. I'm about to go postal. Cheesed off! Or I'm salty! It really doesn't matter the words you use to communicate it it is just a fact; we all get angry. In fact, anger is one of the six basic and distinct human emotions that we all experience. Those emotions are happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust and anger. I would venture to say that for most of us more than any time in our lives we are experiencing anger. Our current national and global environment is causing us to experience most of if not all the basic emotions. However, at the end of the day, most of us have seen or heard something that elicited the emotion of anger! And as I said it doesn't matter what term you use to communicate it. However, what does matter is what you do with anger once you experience it. The writer of Ephesians must have had firsthand experience with the destructive side of anger because he cautioned us in Ephesians 4:26, "Be angry, but do not sin." Wait! There is hope in that passage. It tells us that anger is a valid emotion. It even encourages us to get angry. BE ANGRY! But then the caution but don't sin. Another version helps us understand this instruction. "Do not let your anger lead you into sin." The warning is that anger can be productive, or it can be destructive and the result of anger, the product of anger is in our hands.
In his fictional book called "White Night' about a detective Jim Butcher captures the difference in anger when a character in his book has a conversation with a demon about anger.
“Anger is just anger. It isn't good. It isn't bad. It just is. What you do with it is what matters. It's like anything else. You can use it to build or to destroy. You just have to make the choice." Constructive anger," the demon said, her voice dripping sarcasm. Also known as passion," I said quietly. "Passion has overthrown tyrants and freed prisoners and slaves. Passion has brought justice where there was savagery. Passion has created freedom where there was nothing but fear. Passion has helped souls rise from the ashes of their horrible lives and build something better, stronger, more beautiful.”
So, our challenge is to figure out how to turn I'm mad to I'm MAD. I'm making a difference.
There were folks in the Bible who had to figure this transition out. Perhaps none better than the rag tag, salty group of men that would ultimately become known as David's Mighty Men. Long before they earned that moniker they could have simply been called "David's Mad Men." Listen to the how the Bible describes them before they made this transition.
TEXT: 1 Samuel 22:1-2 (NIV)
David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.
Another version may capture the feeling better.
Many people joined David. There were men who were in some kind of trouble, men who owed a lot of money, and men who were just not satisfied with life. (Bitter about life.)
I heard one preacher say they were broke, busted and disgusted. Sounds like a lot of us right now! Discontent. Bitter. Dissatisfied with how things are going. But these men transition from Mad Men to Mighty Men. I think we can learn from them right now.
Let's examine one of the stories. You can find the list of these men in 2 Samuel 23.
TEXT: 2 Samuel 23:9-10 (GW)
Next in rank to him was Eleazar, another one of the three fighting men. He was the son of Dodo and grandson of Aho. Eleazar was with David at Pas Dammim when the Philistines gathered there for battle. When the soldiers from Israel retreated, he attacked and killed Philistines until his hand got tired and stuck to his sword. So the Lord won an impressive victory that day. The army returned to Eleazar, but they only returned to strip the dead.
Here is one of the men who were mad. Why? Well his father's name was Dodo. And I won't even deal with his grandfather's name. Isn't that reason enough? We don't know why he was part of the discontent and distressed crowd. However, in this account we learn some things that we can apply to make the transition he did.