Intro: Good old Fred was a faithful church member for the majority of his life, but now that his life was ebbing away in the hospital. Fred’s family called in his pastor to comfort and pray for Fred in his last few moments of life. When the Pastor arrived he spoke with the family and turned his attention to Fred and read some comforting words from the Bible. Then the pastor standing just left of Fred’s bed circled up the family around Fred for prayer. When he did Fred motioned for paper and something to write with since he was unable to talk. He quickly scribbled something on the paper and handed it to the pastor. It was just moments later that Fred passed away. The pastor took it and stuffed it into his jacked pocket not thinking it was appropriate to read it at the time, then said a prayer. The pastor forgot about the note until a few days later at Fred’s funeral. As the pastor stood in front of the family and friends just before closing his message he remembered the note and happened to have on the same jacket as the last time he was with Fred. The pastor then addressed the congregation as he took the note from his jacket pocket. He felt it would be inspiring to read the last words Fred was thinking before he passed from this life. The pastor then said, “you remember the note Fred wrote me just before he passed?” Then reading from the note it said; “QUICK MOVE TO YOUR LEFT YOUR STANDING ON MY OXYGEN CORD!”
Sometimes we have the best intentions while hurting those we’re trying to help. But sometimes regardless of our intentions people still get hurt and at times those people who get hurt are us. This morning I don’t want to talk about good intentions or bad intentions, I want to talk about dealing with the anger that hurt leaves behind.
ANGER IS AN ACID THAT DAMAGES THE VESSIL IT HOLDS MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE.
WHEN YOU FORGIVE SOMEONE YOU SET A PRISONER FREE…..YOURSELF.
Gal 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Ephesians 4:26 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
Is anger a sin? Was Jesus angry when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple? Yes! But if you notice Jesus was never angry with people when they mistreated him, only when they did something against his Father or to the poor and helpless. So yes it is possible to be angry with out sinning. But when we do experience the emotion of anger we must be careful in how we deal with it.
The first thing we learn from this text is that we’re not to let anger go unchecked. Don’t just cover it up let it go and say I’ll feel better tomorrow. Anger is to be dealt with and dealt with swiftly.
(v. 27) and do not give the devil a foothold.
When we crack the door just a little to let something negative into our minds and heart that’s all he’s looking for. With that he will blow the door open every time with a flood of evil and run as long and as hard as he can through our mind for as long as he can.
So how do we deal with anger? If we vent it out it becomes destructive to those around us and we teach ourselves to respond to anger with destruction. If we hold it in we become resentful and bitter. O.K. if we don’t vent it out or hold it in then how do we deal with it? We replace it. If anger starts in our minds then it must end in our mind. First we must replace the angry thoughts with Godly thoughts from the Bible.
Illustration: Corrie ten Boom told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn’t sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. "His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor," Corrie wrote, "to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks." "Up in the church tower," he said, nodding out the window, "is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there’s a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They’re just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down." "And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force -- which was my willingness in the matter -- had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts."
Corrie ten Boom.
Here is where we must believe the promises of God.
Joseph is such an awesome illustration of the power of forgiveness to me. After his brothers sell him off as a slave into a foreign land. He endures such pain and sorrow being thrown in the dungeon suffering humiliation and heartache. But after God puts him as second most powerful man in the world his brothers comeback to him and under his authority for him to do what ever he chooses with them, Joseph chooses to forgive them.
20"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
It’s hard to believe when we’re in the midst of pain and hurt that someone has unfairly put on us that somehow someway God can work it out for our good. Our flesh tells us we have a right to be angry. Our friends and family tell us we have a right to be angry they many even tell us we have a right to revenge. When we take revenge into our own hands then we start to do God’s job for him.
30For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people."
Illustration: When a man who was bitten by a dog with rabies began making a list the doctor told him there was no need to make a will, that rabies could be cured. “Oh, I’m not making a will,” he replied. “I’m making a list of all the people I want to bite.”
We could all make a list like that couldn’t we? But let me ask you do want anger and bitterness to control your life?
(v. 32) Eph 4:31-32
32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
The second step in dealing with anger is to forgive. This verse doesn’t say only forgive when asked to be forgiven. It doesn’t say only forgive the ones you love. We as Christians are to forgive everyone for everything regardless of the circumstances.
Illustration: The wife of a Zulu chief attended a Salvation Army meeting and heard and responded to the call of Jesus. When her husband heard of this he forbade her to go again on pain of death. However, eager to hear more about Jesus, she dared to go, and when her husband knew of this he met her on her return journey and beat her so savagely tat he left her for dead. By and by his curiosity moved him to go back and look for her. She was not where he had left her, but he noticed broken twigs and found her lying under a bush. Covering her with his cruel eyes he leered, “And what can your Jesus Christ do for you now?” She opened her eyes, and looking at him, said gently, “He helps me to forgive you!”
Regardless of how harsh, bad or unfair the circumstances we’re to forgive. How are we to forgive? Just as in Christ God forgave us. Did Jesus forgive us because we deserved it? The sacrifice was all on His part. To truly forgive others we must go to the cross. I wish we could all go to the cross just moments after they took the body of Jesus away and you could spend a few moments looking at the pieces of passion. Touch the velvet dirt, moist with the blood of God. Run your thumb over the tip of the spear. Balace a spike in the palm of your hand. See the wooden sign.
What does the cross mean to you when you see it around someone’s neck? When you see it on the wall, or on top of a church? When I see it one word pops into my mind, “FORGIVNESS”. To me that’s the whole purpose of the cross, that’s what it means to me, we can now be forgiven. Our sins have been paid for in full.
Illustration: Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was reminded one day of a vicious deed that someone had done to her years before. But she acted as if she had never even heard of the incident. "Don’t you remember it?" her friend asked. "No," came Barton’s reply, "I distinctly remember forgetting it." Luis Palau, Experiencing God’s Forgiveness, Multnomah Press, 1985.
Illustration: General Oglethorpe once said to John Wesley, "I never forgive and I never forget." To which Wesley replied, "Then, Sir, I hope you never sin." Matt 6:14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Conclusion: In "The Christian Leader," Don Ratzlaff retells a story Vernon Grounds came across in Ernest Gordon’s Miracle on the River Kwai. The Scottish soldiers, forced by their Japanese captors to labor on a jungle railroad, had degenerated to barbarous behavior, but one afternoon something happened. A shovel was missing. The officer in charge became enraged. He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else. When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot . . . It was obvious the officer meant what he had said. Then, finally, one man stepped forward. The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death. When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloody corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check. This time, no shovel was missing. Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first check point. The word spread like wildfire through the whole camp. An innocent man had been willing to die to save the others! . . . The incident had a profound effect. . . The men began to treat each other like brothers. When the victorious Allies swept in, the survivors, human skeletons, lined up in front of their captors (and instead of attacking their captors) insisted: "No more hatred. No more killing. Now what we need is forgiveness." Sacrificial love has transforming power.
Don Ratzlaff, "The Christian Leader".