Summary: As Christians, we need to channel our anger towards commitment and service within the kingdom of God.
"Living the Blessed Life: Mercy Versus Anger"
-by Antonio L. Torrence, Cross of Life Lutheran Church
Text: Matthew 5:5
A. Citius, Altius, Fortius- Faster, Higher, Stronger- that is the Olympian theme. Citius, Altius, Fortius- a chant that has dominated our minds for a fortnight as we watched and cheer world-class athletes compete against time, the natural elements, and themselves for top honors among their peers. “Faster, higher, stronger.” Those words seem to also capture the momentum of society as we attempt to progress, achieve, and excel during our lifetimes. Society teaches us that to be faster, higher, and stronger than your neighbors that you must push and shove, confront and conquer, and lie and cheat. In order to inherit the earth, according to the world’s standards we must use our powers to take what we want by any means necessary.
B. Jesus however, is teaching us that it is not by might, nor by power but by my spirit saith the Lord. To live a blessed life in the kingdom of God, we must take on his spirit, put on his mind, deceased self so that he may increase in us. Like so many of the Olympians, Jesus gives us the keys to getting mentally in zone so that we can harness the talents, character, and attitudes within us to run the Christian race. We’ve already talked about two of those keys:
1. Poverty of spirit
2. Mourning into movement.
II. The third key is meekness from our anger. What is meekness?
A. Meekness is a habit of patient endurance under provocation. Meekness answers the question of how we deal with provocation? How do we handle agitation? How we handle confrontation?
1. The natural reaction to provocation, agitation, and confrontation is anger. We need to understand that anger is a basic human endowment. It is a passion or emotion directed toward on who inflicts a real or supposed wrong. Anger is aroused by a sensory perception plus an interpretation of the perception. It is not exclusively based on physical stimuli but it is a cultivated by our thoughts. Anger is fed by our perceptions; that is, why Proverbs 19:11 says good sense makes a man slow to anger and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Although it is our natural reaction to get angry when provoke- we must employ good sense and think before we react. Why? Because anger in and, by itself is not morally wrong. It’s what comes from that anger that determines its positive or negative impact. The purpose in anger may be redemptive or destructive. We have 3 misconceptions about anger
a) We tend to believe that all anger is sinful- not so, Scriptures agree with modern psychological studies affirming that anger, though having destructive potential also has positive and redemptive contributions to offer human relationships.
b) We believe that angry feelings are best managed by being camouflaged or ignored. No, the right acknowledgement and expression of anger assists in deepening and developing social relationships;
c) We believe that those angry feelings will eventually disappear if we ignore them. Unresolved or unexamined anger interferes with the effective exercise of relationships and produces confusion, misunderstanding, and alienation. Unresolved anger can produced:
(1) Depression- we internalized our feelings (swallow them) and get in return ulcers, diarrhea, headaches, etc.
(2) Physical and verbal outbursts- we become abusive emotionally and physically.
(a) Cain’s hostility against his brother Abel.
(b) Joseph’s brothers’ anger against him.
(c) Saul’s anger at the Christians.
(3) Can cause us to fear anger so we flinch, cry, or withdraw when others are on a rampage.
(4) We can become numb and alienated-Some have learned to anesthetized their feelings so much that they have learned how not to feel. Others have learned to withdraw themselves-they leave.
III. The problem is that many of us, have not learned how to used anger towards our good. There is good anger. Good anger is legitimate when the perception of the evil is accurate; when the excitation is proportionate to the evil, and when the impulse is directed toward correcting the ill.
A. This is where meekness comes in to play. We said that meekness is a habit of patient endurance under provocation. To take it further. Meekness means power under control. Power out of control can become hostility, violence, and destructiveness. (I.e. – hurricanes, tornados, floods, -power our of control.) Power in control is meekness. The root word of meekness was originally used to describe a horse or some other wild animal, which has been broken in and tamed to become useful to its owner. All of is once useable strengths and uncontrollable behavior are harnessed. Prior to being trained and tamed, their talents were useless and dangerous. Because many of us we have not learned how to harness our emotional anger for the work and service of God, we too tend be useless and dangerous.