Summary: Is anger ever right? When is it wrong? How do we deal with our anger?
Yoda said “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” And Yoda could have been talking about the movie Frozen. Elsa’s fear of losing her sister Ana, led to the explosion that you just saw which ultimately led to the entire kingdom falling into a deep freeze and all the troubles that came from that point on.
This week the staff attended the Global Leadership Summit and one of the speakers was Joseph Grenny, one of the authors of “Crucial Conversations” the subtitle of the book is “Tools for Talking When Stakes are High” Elsa should have been in that session
And if we were honest with ourselves we can track many of our problems in life back to the root of anger.
Because you are angry with someone or something you do something that you later regret. You are working at something and it isn’t doing what you want it to do so you get angry with it and so you yank too hard and you break it. You get angry at your child, spouse, sibling, parent, employer, employee and you say something you wish you could take back. And you can’t take it back, those words that are said in anger are always remembered. And you are thinking “But they said they forgave me.” Yep, but that doesn’t undo the hurt, you can’t unring the bell.
And so you would expect me to say “Let Go of Anger”. After all most people would say that anger is bad, that we should never get angry. It was Buddha who said “Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.”
While Peter O’Donnell wrote “Anger and worry are the enemies of clear thought.” And Ralph Waldo Emerson offered us excellent advice when he wrote “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” And here are words of great wisdom from Ambrose Bierce, “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” I’ve given those speeches.
The bible even weighs in on the subject when Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:24-25 Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul. And again in Proverbs 29:22 An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.
And most of us think of anger as a “Sin”. “Forgive me because I got angry” we pray or we tell the person on the other end of our anger “I’m sorry I was angry.”
And so you would understand if I preached on “Let Go of Your Anger”. But then we have to deal with passages in the bible like Psalm 7:11 God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day. Or in the New Testament John 3:36 And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
And we look in the bible and we see Godly men and women who get angry. And maybe we can understand Moses getting angry, and David getting angry and Jonah getting angry, after all they were people like us. But the bible tells us that Jesus got angry, and you are thinking “Not Jesus, Jesus hugged children and cuddled lambs, Jesus told us to love everyone and turn the other cheek, no preacher you’re wrong Jesus never got angry.” Yep sure did, he got angry with the Pharisees he got angry with his Apostles and in a story that is familiar to all of us one day he got so angry about what was happening in the courts surrounding the temple he turned over tables, set animals free and chased people with a whip.
And so now we have this dichotomy to deal with. We perceive anger to always be wrong and to be sinful behaviour and yet we see Jesus acting in a way that seems to be angry and he was without sin. And there are multiple instances in the scriptures with God being angry, and that is the word that is used “angry” not a little put out or mildly annoyed but angry.
Perhaps the truth lies in the words of Aristotle who said “Anyone can become angry -- that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way -- this is not easy.”
So here are some questions we can ask ourselves about Anger and perhaps we can find some answers in the Jesus story.