Summary: Anger is in every part of life; why?
We encounter so much anger in everyday life that most of us have become somewhat desensitized to it. Everywhere you go, and in every realm of existence there is anger – some is miniature in its impact, some wildly excessive. And some of it is our own!
• It is a fact of life in business places and schools.
• The media – TV, Internet, Cell Phones – all filled with anger.
• Wherever you find yourself you cannot miss the road rage of the highways, lines at stores, and even in churches, families and close relationships.
Anger is “number 6” on the list commonly known as the Seven Deadly Sins (lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed, anger and pride). Our question today is
WHY IS THERE SO MUCH ANGER?
In order to begin to talk about why there is so much anger you have to address the question’s forerunner – where did anger begin?
I watched a History Channel presentation last month called “The Seven Deadly Sins”. The episode on anger gave God credit – starting in Genesis 6 where God’s wrath (anger) destroyed all the earth. But the very first reference to anger in Scripture predates the flood; it’s in Genesis 4, where God asked Cain why he was so angry. Cain responded to God’s questioning by acting out his anger; he killed his brother! We have been angry and killing each other in various ways ever since. There are so many references to angry persons in Scripture that I stopped counting after 100.
One side-road about anger in the Bible. There is a difference between the anger (wrath) of God and human anger. God’s anger is always righteous; man’s is not. There is a different quality to God’s anger than just being “ticked-off”.
I would be hard-pressed to stand here and recount all the ways anger evidences itself in our world. However – let me just mention these few to set the stage for our exploration of why there is so much anger in our society. Let these words open the door in your memory; let them relocate some images for you:
• Columbine, 911, Iraq, Jihad
• TV – CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds
• Wal-Mart at Christmas where shoppers can be trampled in the name of the baby Jesus
• Drunk drivers
• IRS, Bernie Madeoff, Insurance companies
• Sports images from years ago – NY Yankees’ manager Billy Martin and umpires; College basketball coach Bobby Knight throwing chairs at referees. Mike Tyson’s teeth biting-off Evander Holyfield’s right ear!
It’s not hard to come up with a list much longer than that. If you simply open the newspaper or just turn on Jerry Springer you don’t have to wonder if there is anger lurking at every corner.
It would be easy
Now, I’d like to be able to say it’s someone’s fault – blame it on the Republicans or Democrats – the President or Congress makes me angry! It would be easier to blame society and the economy – my next-door neighbor. It would be really easy to simply say “well, it’s my nature; I can’t help how God made us.”
It would be easy, indeed; it would also be wrong. Anger is not in the genes – it resides in the spirit. Anger defined is a desire for revenge. With Cain it was the fact that he brought an offering and God rejected it (because it was not what God had required). Cain got even with God by striking God’s creation. That’s anger!
When I was six or seven my mother and aunt took the kids to the lake to swim. My younger cousin Gary spent half the afternoon building a magnificent sand castle. I was envious and wanted to play with it; he told me to get lost!
Mom got tired of our ruckus, and told me to leave Gary alone. I looked at Gary like Cain looked at Able. I left, but I stepped right on his sand castle as I walked away!
Anger is part of our existence because deep down in the spirit:
• if we want something and can’t have it,
• or someone says something and we don’t like it,
• or she’s prettier than most and we can’t stand it……
…we get angry, and we want to get even. It is born of a kind of arrogance that demands our own way – and plots revenge if we don’t get it! Anger is one human’s attempt to punish another.
It is wrong precisely because God has said so;
19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 (NRSV)
The Old Testament prophet Jonah is well-known for his submarine ride; but most people tend to forget the question God asked him: Is it right for you to be angry?