Summary: Anger, unresolved anger is a very serious issue. At the heart of it is our lack of honesty with each other
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Lose bad temper and gain positive boundaries
We are starting a series on bad temper, so just in case any one is wondering that was a setup, an example of how anger can get out of hand.
Let me give you another example from the animal kingdom.
Ginger the bad tempered cat
Anger, unresolved anger is a very serious issue. At the heart of it is our lack of honesty with each other. Anger at what someone else has done, what they have said, the way they have looked at us. It can burn within us, and if left there, turns into bitterness and eats us up. For many years the way we handled anger in the church was to ignore it, sweep it under the carpet. The way we handled conflict was to avoid it altogether. But that is not healthy, nor is it the way God wants us to live. One of the key issues for me when I am doing pre marriage counseling is to try to give the couple tools with which to fight. Not power tools, or pots and pans to throw at each other, but rather healthy ways to express anger, disappointment, disagreement. Unresolved anger may be the most devastating emotion to relationships, within marriage, within families, within the church, within the community. It alienates people without them even knowing why, it promotes church division through stealth.
The problem is, many of us are angry, but fail to see it as such. We are clever at rationalizing it away. We might say we have forgiven people, but then manage to bring it back up as fuel for fire at our leisure. That is not forgiveness. Anger and unforgiveness are still there. Or, if we do recognize we are angry, then we tend to downplay it, as though that is no big deal.
Lets have a look at Ephesians 4
25So put away all falsehood and "tell your neighbor the truth"[d] because we belong to each other. 26And "don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you."[e] Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.
Other versions might say, "Be angry and sin not." Basically both these versions are saying this same thing. You will get angry, and I would say there are times you must get angry, but it is what you do with that anger that is important, and what we are talking about this morning, Lose bad temper and gain positive boundaries,
So how do we deal with our anger?
A lady once came to Billy Sunday, perhaps the most famous evangelist and preacher of the early 1900s, and tried to rationalize her angry outbursts. "There’s nothing wrong with losing my temper," she said. "I blow up, and then it’s all over."
"So does a shotgun," Sunday replied, "and look at the damage it leaves behind!"
According to J. Adams, a leading reformed theologian, psychiatrist, and Christian counselor, "the prevailing school of thought in modern psychiatry, group therapy, and anger management programs is that angry and hostile feelings toward others is never wrong, but that the best way to deal with one’s anger is by venting one’s feelings in a controlled environment." Often the major thrusts of these groups is to provide an opportunity for angry people to express their "hang-ups" and hostilities by encouraging them to vent their feelings by beating pillows.
Jane Howard gives such an example, "Pillows from sofas were used as props, to be beaten, struck, pounded, thrashed and abused by people who imagined them to be whoever it was that had made them mad." She adds later, "A pretty woman had been lying on a mattress, kicking and shrieking in unspecified rage. Later the woman told her son, ’I was working out some angry feelings I had about Grandma. " She adds with an almost uncanny biblical insight, "Most of the angry gestures amounted to ritual murders. Many people had to be reminded: ’Remember, its only a pillow.’"(Jane Howard in "Please Touch", p. 150.).
Chuck Swindoll in his book "Growing Strong," cites this amazing fact about camels: Camels may build up a pressure cooker of resentment toward human beings until the lid suddenly blows off and they go berserk. In Asia, when a camel driver senses trouble, he gives his coat to the animal. The camel then jumps on it, bites on it, tearing it to pieces. When the camel feels it has blown its top enough, man and animal can live together in harmony again.
The classic illustration of this is the encounter Cain had with God in Gen. 4:5-8. Cain brought the wrong kind of offering to the Lord. When God had no regard for Cain’s offering, Cain became angry and his countenance fell. God said to him, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not well, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must master it. The Bible talks about this, Listen to what Proverbs has to say. "A fool loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back," Prov 29:11, "Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit," 25:28, "A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression," 19:11, " Do you see a man who is hasty with his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him," 29:20, "An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression," 29:22, "A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated," 14:17, "He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly," 14:29, "A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute," 15:18, "A man of great anger will bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again," 19:19, "Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself," 22:24,25. Furthermore, James 1:19 says, "Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger."