TAMING THE ANGER MONSTER
Rev. Todd G. Leupold
Perth Bible Church, Wednesday PM, April 28,2010
There was a long period of time in my house in which it was no longer good enough or desirous to my children for me to just be “Daddy.” Oh, no, they had a much different identity in mind for me. Only my problems with my knees have somewhat diminished the constant insistence that I be this something else. Instead of “daddy” they just wanted the Cookie Monster to chase them around and gobble them up. Only sometimes, when I’ve had a particularly long day and/or am just plain tired and cranky and they keep pushing me they get a very different monster indeed – the Anger Monster! I’m sure it must be very difficult for any of you to image or picture me ever turning into the Anger Monster. But, yes, once in a blue moon it can occur. Yeah, hon, just once in a very blue moon though of course.
Sure, I know I’m guilty at times – too many times. Aren’t we all? I mean who doesn’t get stressed out in this fast-paced, time-starved culture we live in and far too often allow and to dictate our lives? Anyone knows that fatigue leads to stress leads to irritability leads to insensitivity leads to isolation and even anger. Please understand, I do not in any way say this to excuse my or anyone else’s unhealthy anger, but to point out how easy and common it is for us to struggle with all of the things that so easily lead to anger as well as the anger itself.
The Anger Monster is big, bad and ug-ly! It jumps right down our throats and into our belly, taking control of our mind and body. It then zaps us of our joy, peace and reason. As the ancient philosopher, Petrarch, once said: “There are 4 great habits to peace that inhabit us – anger, ambition, envy and pride. If these enemies were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.”
Not only that, but the Anger Monster actually threatens our physical being and even our very lives – not to mention the lives and welfare of others! This past November, the American Psychological Association released a study which revealed that (at least in men) high hostility levels may actually be an even higher predictor of heart disease than cigarette smoking, weight, alcohol consumption, diet, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. And in 1994 the Gallup Organization released a report which revealed a direct correlation between hostility and death rates. That is, the cities that rated the highest on the hostility index also had the highest death rates. Commenting on this study, Dr. Redford Williams of Duke University Medical School said, “Anger kills. There is a strong correlation between hostility and death rates. The angrier people are and the more cynical they are, the shorter their life span.” Anybody getting nervous yet?
I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of letting the Anger Monster take over moments of my life and rob me of all of these things. It’s time to fight back, time to tame the Anger Monster!
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
WHAT IS ANGER?
Random House defines anger as, “a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence.”
Dr. Timothy Clinton, a Christian therapist and president of the American Association of Christian Counselors has an even better definition: “Anger is a God-given emotion in response to a real or perceived (felt) injustice or wrong-doing in our life.”
Anger can be hidden or open, brief or last decades. If left alone it WILL escalate to resentment and even rage.
I.LEVELS OF ANGER
Dr. Clinton has identified five levels of anger. Sometimes we start at the first and gradually move up the scale. Other times we jump right up to the top.
1.Irritation – a feeling of discomfort brought about by someone or something.
2.Indignation – a feeling that something must be answered; there must be a correcting of that which is wrong.
3.Wrath – giving expression to a strong desire to avenge.
4.Fury – the loss of emotional control.
5.Rage – a temporary loss of control involving acts of violence. The angry person scarcely realizes what he or she has done.
Or, as has often been said: Some of us are microwaves who heat up real quick but then cool down just as quick. Others are like crockpots which just slowly simmer and simmer for very long periods of time – never quite blowing the top off, but not cooling down either. And still others of us are pressure cookers, which just keep stuffing it all in and trying to screw the lead down tight until it just can’t hold it anymore and “thar she blows”!
II.CAUSES OF ANGER
If we are to proactively cut down the Anger Monster or even successfully parry him when he does arrive, it is important and helpful to understand just what really is causing our anger. Very often, our anger is taken out against someone or something that at best represents and at worst has nothing to do with the real reason we are suddenly overcome with anger.
As Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying: “Anger is seldom without a reason, but seldom is it a good one.”
1.Feeling threatened or hurt. Proverbs 15:1-2
2.Feeling betrayed. Proverbs 16:28
3.A learned behavior or habit. Proverbs 22:21; 26:11
4.An injustice. Eph. 6:4; Jer. 2:5; Dt. 32:4
5.Physical causes (tired, pain, too much sugar, etc.)
6.Rebellion. Jer. 5:23; Proverbs 17:11a
7.Selfishness. 2 Co. 12:20-21; Gal. 5:19-21; Phil. 2:3
III.EFFECTS OF ANGER
Again, these 6 Effects of Anger were presented by Dr. Timothy Clinton
Notice that all of these effects are condemned in Scripture!
1.Internalization – your body becomes the receiving element.
2.Ventilation – hard breathing, words
3.Blindness – Anger blinds the eyes and reason = self-absorption & self-preservation
Not only can these effects greatly harm ourselves and those who are the object of our anger, but it can be just as devastating on the innocent. Consider these real-life series of events that may hit home hard for some of us:
Eric Zorn, wrote an article in the Chicago Tribune about a tragic story of anger in April,1994.According to Zorn, a man and woman were driving a van in the far left lane of Chicago’s
Northwest Tollway. In the back were their two children. A white Cadillac driven by an ex-convict suddenly pulled up behind them, tailgating mere inches from their bumper. The man driving the van slowed down. The Cadillac driver pulled into the right land, passed the van, and then swerved suddenly back in front of the van, so suddenly that the van driver felt he had to swerve to avoid a collision. The white Cadillac sped away.
Now, tell me, if you driving that van, how might you have responded?
Let me tell you what happened in this instance. The van driver accelerated and gave chase. He eventually pulled alongside the white Cadillac and reportedly began yelling and screaming. According to a witness, the two men gestured angrily at each other.
The driver of the Cadillac then pulled a handgun and fired at the van. The bullet entered the side of the van and hit the baby girl, entering under her left ear and exiting above her right ear. The little girl lived, but she is blind in one eye, half blind in the other, partially deaf, and suffers severe mental and physical disabilities.
The man who fired the bullet is in jail. The parents of the little girl must now live with the terrible pain of regret. Anger usually escalates – often in tragic, tragic ways.
RIGHTEOUS VS. UNRIGHTEOUS ANGER?
First, it is important to recognize that anger and resentment, while related are very different. Anger is an emotoin, but aggression is a chosen behavioral response.
As Chuck Swidoll says, “Your response (to anger) determines if it is sin or not.”
We are told in 1 Cor. 13:5 that “love is not easily angered.” But, then again, in Eph. 4:26 the Scriptures say “Be angry and sin not” – assuming that there is such a thing as anger without sin. So how do we sort this all out?
A.Anger Must be “Graded” In Four Respects (Jonathan Edwards)
Anger must be evaluated in respect to its . . .
1.Nature – all anger that contains ill will or a desire of revenge is unsuitable.
2.Occasion – is the cause of the anger truly just or unjust or petty?
Were you really offended, or did you just feel or perceive offence?
Was it really the other person’s fault, or are they just the easy target to blame?
Is someone else really to blame or are you really blaming them for your own shortcoming and/or transferring what is really anger at God because things didn’t go your way?
Is your anger really an expressed jealousy?
Where moral wrong is truly evident are you angry because of how such sin personally affects you or can you honestly say that your anger is in the cause of God against sin?
3.Purpose – will any useful purpose really be obtained by your anger? Can/will your anger in any way be for the glory of God?
4.Measure – what is the measure of the intensity and/or longevity of your anger? Is it controlled or uncontrolled? Reasonable or unreasonable?
IV.TAMING THE ANGER MONSTER Ephesians 4:26
Four Steps to Taming The Anger Monster
1.Be Aware of Anger
- Know what makes you angry, when you are angry and how you tend to respond to anger.
2.Accept Responsibility for Your Anger - 1 Corinthians 10:13
Remember, regardless of the cause, the anger you feel is your emotion and how you choose to respond to that emotion is your choice.
As we’ve already discussed that choice can have dire consequences on others, even the most innocent.
It can also be dangerously contagious:
In his autobiography, Number 1, Billy Martin told about hunting in Texas with Mickey Mantle. Mickey had a friend who would let them hunt on his ranch. When they reached the ranch, Mickey told Billy to wait in the car while he checked in with his friend.
Mantle’s friend quickly gave them permission to hunt, but he asked Mickey a favor. He had a pet mule in the barn who was going blind, and didn’t have the heart to put him out of his misery. He asked Mickey to shoot the mule for him.
When Mickey came back to the car, he pretended to be angry. He scowled and slammed the door. Billy asked him what was wrong, and Mickey said his friend wouldn’t let them hunt. “I’m so mad at that guy,” Mantle said, “I’m going out to his barn and shoot one of his mules!”
Martin protested, “We can’t do that!”
But Mickey was adamant. “Just watch me.”
He jumped out of the car with his rifle, ran inside the barn, and shot the mule. As he was leaving, though, he heard two shots. He saw that Martin had taken out his rifle, too.
“What are you doing, Martin?” he yelled.
Martin yelled back, face red with anger, “We’ll show that son of a gun! I just killed two of his cows!”
Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.
3.Identify the Cause of Your Anger
4.Choose Your Response
a.)Stop and Think - Proverbs 16:32
+ Steve Ran of Westminster, California absolutely hated the cockroaches that seemed to take up a permanent residence in his apartment. One day, after closing the door on 25 activated bug bombs, Steve thought for sure that he had seen the last of those dastardly cockroaches. Only one problem. Whe the spray from the bug bombs reach the pilot light of his gas stove it ignited – blasting his screen door across the street, breaking all his windows, and setting his furniture ablaze.
“I really wanted to kill all of them,” he said. “I thought if I used a lot more, it would last longer.” According to the label, just two canisters of the fumigant should have solved Steve’s roach problem.
The blast caused over $10,000 damage to the apartment building. Oh, and did I mention that by that Sunday the cockroaches had returned?
- Proverbs 29:11 “only a fool gives full vent to his anger.” (taken from an article that first appeared in the Arizona Republic (4/25/95).
+ Or, as Laurence Peter says, “Speak when you’re angry-and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”
b.)Get Control of Your Emotion - Proverbs 14:29; 17:27
c.)Be Better Not Bitter - Proverbs 15:1
d.)Pray - Matthew 5:43-45
e.)Forgive - Ephesians 4:31-32