Summary: The second of two messages on anger in this series, this message deals with constructive anger and the need to let go of the anger that leads to grudges, bitterness, and sin through repentance and forgiveness.
The Deadly Sin of Anger—Part Two
During Christmas Break of my junior and senior years at Asbury College and the summer before that senior year, I had the privilege of working for my good friends from my home Church V. G. and Mary Buckner at their Gospel Bookstore in Marion, Illinois. I’ll always remember that first Christmas working for them. A lady who was a Sunday school teacher at Energy First Baptist Church came into the store to purchase gifts for her class of older women. I volunteered to wait on her. No one on the staff had told me that she was a difficult person to please. For over an hour I kept showing her items and making suggestions that would make good Christmas gifts for her class, seemingly to no avail.
Finally she found something that pleased her, made her purchase, and went on her way. When she had left, Mary Buckner said, “David, I am so glad you were the one who waited on her. You were so patient and kind. None of us wanted to help her, because we know how difficult she is to please.” Normally I am patient. The Lord has blessed me with a good portion of that spiritual fruit. Usually I don’t have a temper or become easily angered. I have a long fuse, but when it does go off it has been known to erupt with dynamite force.
When Liz and I retire from the active ministry, we keep saying we plan to write a “tell all” book about our years of service. Names will not be “changed in order to protect the innocent” for nobody is innocent. I must share with you this true story from one of our favorite appointments in the past.
The Grade School where Justin began his education was directly across the street from our parsonage. It housed grades kindergarten through four in our community plus the junior high for the two community school district. The head cook at the school was a member of our country Church; her husband was the president of the school board; another of the cooks belonged to the town Church; and the principal sometimes came to the country Church as well. Now he was not a committed Christian; he would occasionally attend worship just to look good in the eyes of the community.
Although I would not say that the principal and the head cook actually had an adulterous love affair, for several months they did carry on a typical “junior high romance.” It was about to be exposed before the community; therefore, one evening the principal called me to his home to confess what had been taking place. He released me from all responsibility of confidentiality if the time should come when the husband might seek me for spiritual help and guidance.
It did not take long for the husband to come see me. I honored the principal’s request in an effort to bring about healing and forgiveness. Liz had been substituting for this principal for over four years in everything from kindergarten through junior high industrial arts and home economics. He had told her that if ever there was an opening for a full time teacher in the lower elementary grades he would like to have her on his faculty and would recommend the school board hire her.
Liz applied for the position as a second grade teacher. It happened to be during this same sequence of events. The principal turned on both of us. He was angry at me over the situation that had transpired between the head cook; her husband, and himself. Therefore, he took it out on Liz by lashing out at her in giving a harsh report about her ability as a teacher. She did not get the job.
The opportunity for a move to another Church came in the middle of that Conference year, and we accepted a new appointment about 150 miles across the State. At our farewell party, the cook told Liz, “I feel so badly about this. Liz, if it hadn’t been for me, I know you would have had a teaching position at our school.”
I wanted to lash out in anger and get revenge. I wanted my “pound of flesh” from the principal just as Shylock sought his from Antonio in Shakespeare’s THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. I was ready to go cuss out that “old so and so principal” in no uncertain terms and tell him “where to go.”
During this same time our two Churches held a joint Revival Meeting with noted Decatur Evangelist The Rev. Jack Kaley. I told Jack just how I felt; expressed my deep hurt and anger and my desire for revenge. Jack fully understood and wisely counseled me. “Yes, David, I understand and don’t blame you, but that will ruin your witness for Jesus. Go for a run in the woods and cuss out the trees instead.”