Summary: In order to be like our Father God, we must get rid of anger and begin living a life of love. But what does that mean in our everyday lives?
Many here have heard of a man named Bobby Knight. He’s a famous college basketball coach. Bobby Knight is given to what commentaries on the Old Testament refer to as "ebullitions of wrath." Maybe you’ve seen some of Bobby’s ebullitions on display in television news clips: Coach Knight hurling a molded plastic chair the length of a basketball court; Coach Knight, displeased, putting a straight-arm Darth Vader chokehold on one of his own players. Time and again the question has been asked, “Does this guy need a course in anger management?” I think we know the answer to that one.
And at Texas Tech, where Knight is presently the coach, his sudden outpouring of emotion has reached a new level. Texas Tech chancellor David Smith said he was complimenting Bob Knight when the coach came "charging up behind me furious with fists clenched," during a public confrontation at, of all places, an upscale grocery store.
Chancellor Smith said, "I expressed…that despite some tough losses I especially wanted to commend him on how he handled the last few weeks and in particular the student section at the University of Texas game." "His demeanor…changed drastically. With a red face his response was curt and angry as he responded, ’I always handle things well, and have always handled things well.’ "
Compare Knights track record with an amazing story I read by a sportswriter at the retirement of a university baseball team’s head coach. This coach, while winning 1,466 games, 22 conference championships, and 2 national titles, was never ejected from a game by an umpire. A former player described his coach as "a legend, a winner, but above everything else, he’s a gentleman, on and off the field."
That tribute made me stop and consider my behavior in the game of life. Amid daily pressures and confrontations, how do I react to people at home, at work, or on the highway? Are my words and actions consistent with my profession of faith in Christ?
It’s clear from Scripture that God places great value on self-control: In Prov. 16:32 we read "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." A patient person receives greater commendation than a powerful warrior. A person whose temper is under control rates higher marks than a conquering hero.
One fruit of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:23 is “self-control. That virtue enables us to stay composed when anger flares all around us. And that’s one of the most important victories we could ever win.
The apostle Paul has already given us one lesson on anger. But it seems to be such a crucial issue that he is going to single this vice out as one that needs extra attention and work. And if you are looking for an example of someone who is angry and sins not and who is perfect in love, then look no further than our Father God. For those of us who are followers of Christ, Paul wants us to be just like our Father. But how can we be just like our Father?
1.Being Just Like Our Father Means Getting Rid of Anger (4:31)
Paul’s already mentioned anger in chapter 4:26. Now he’s going to paint a more complete picture by giving us five different aspects of anger.
Get rid of all…
The word Paul uses here for bitterness is from the Greek word “pikros” and it was used to describe something that was “pointed” or “sharp.” It was used to describe an arrow that caused sharp, penetrating pain. This word occurs four times in the NT and always describes an underlying attitude of bitterness and resentment from which anger springs. Aristotle portrayed “pikros” as “the attitude that creates a lasting wrath that is hard to reconcile and sustains anger for a long time.” It harbors resentment about the past. It is a spirit of animosity that makes a person sour and venomous.
When we become consumed by bitterness we allow our hurt to become hate. We allow what is eating us to eat us up. When we allow bitterness to furrow deep down into our souls, we in essence stoke and feed and fan the fire of our anger, stirring its flames and reliving our pain.
One person I read this week was talking about growing up as a child in a rural community that specialized in growing tobacco. Their first summer job was to weed the crop, and most of the time he and his fellow workers would walk the seemingly endless rows with a hoe, scuffing out weeds in relative comfort. But sooner or later when they got close to the fence, they ran into thistles—hundreds and hundreds of these little thistles. They looked harmless enough, but you couldn’t scuff them out with a hoe; you had to get down on your knees and pull those prickly little things out by the roots. So many times these workers thought it would be far easier to just those thistles stay there. After all, they weren’t very big. But the wise farmer knew if they left them until harvest time, that whoever reached down to get a handful of tobacco would come away with a palm full of thorns.