Summary: This sermon addresses the issue of anger, primarily acceptable/unacceptable forms of it.
Text: 4:4 "Have you any right to be angry?" (NIV)
ANGER – who has not known its unleashed fury and witnessed the devastation left in its wake? Like a tornado with no predetermined path, it sucks into its violent vortex absolutely anyone or anything that creeps across its path and completely destroys them. Sometimes the damage is so extensive there are only fragments recognizable of what use to be.
The reasons for anger are as diverse as the destruction it causes. For some, it is an intimidation tactic. Still for others, it is a defense mechanism, learned behavior, or simply the only understood, plausible response to a given situation.
A recent Gallup poll reported that motorists were more worried about road rage (42%) than about drunk driving (35%). - NY Times. There is a compound growth rate of rage by 7% every year.
C. Leslie Charles, author of Why Is Everyone So Cranky? writes about “a fuming, unrelenting, sense of anger, hostility, and alienation that simmers for months, even years, without relief. Eventually, all it takes is a triggering incident, usually minor, for the hostile person to go ballistic. . . . Cell phones, pagers, and high tech devices allow us to be interrupted anywhere, at any time. This constant accessibility, and compulsive use of technology, fragments what little time we do have, adding to our sense of urgency, emergency, and overload.
Thousands upon thousands of us in today’s raging world are ticking time-bombs always on the verge of exploding.
Whatever our experience and exposure to anger, I hope we will have some light shed on its many faceted realities, one of which is the realization that while some anger is wrong other forms of anger are proper. Some forms of anger are God-ordained and actually therapeutic. We need to discern the differences and aim for the ideal.
1. Anger is a powerful emotion
Jacob, the son of the father of nations, Abraham, had been handing out blessings to his sons, until he came to Simeon and Levi. Of them he said O my soul, stay away from them. May I never be a party to their wicked plans. For in their anger they murdered men. (Genesis 49:6, NLT)
Hard to believe? Not really. LANCASTER, Pa. -- Days after being shot in the leg, a 2-year-old Lancaster boy is home again after being released from the hospital Tuesday morning June 4th.
Pedro Melendez was shot last week in what police call a case of road rage.
Police said Jon Eichelman shot the boy after Pedro’s mother, Josephine Arroyo, honked her horn at him at a Taco Bell drive through.
Just as anger is a powerful emotion for evil, it can serve its master for goodness and virtue. This is true because
2.Anger is a predominant characteristic of God in response to sin
Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than their fathers had done.
God, the pure, perfect, flawless, awesome Master-craftsman Creator displayed anger. The only proper deduction therefore is that all anger is not wrong. What we need to understand is the context in which God unleashed anger. God’s display of anger was always in the face of opposing destructive forces and behavior. It was always about Sin and its evil domination and influence over pure hearts and holy behavior.
This being so, we can properly deduce from this that
3.Anger is a proper characteristic for God’s people
Ephesians 4:26 – The original Greek states it clearly as BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger
There are two realities facing us as it relates to our expressions of anger. First, we must check the motivation and seed of our anger. Anger must never be for selfish gain or self-enhancement. Second, even when anger is properly present, it can become improperly applied due to incorrect motivation. If a parent scolds and punishes a child for playing on the street when told not too, it is for the protection of the child. If the same scolding and punishment is applied because “I told you not to” it has become an issue of selfish gain or self-enhancement even though the expectation to be listened too was fair and acceptable.
One author notes, “Anger in itself is not sin. In fact, because anger in its primary role is a response to injustice and oppression, not to be angry in the presence of oppression is more likely to be sin. How can we care about the victims of oppression and not be angry concerning their oppression? Therefore we need to affirm our anger and not deny it, and to do so without sinning."
Finally, we need to heed the instruction of Ephesians 4:26 that at the end of the day, our anger must be appeased and satisfied. We should not retire at night seething with anger for any reason. It is unhealthy and unhelpful. Unhealthy you say? According to M.D. Redford Williams and Virginia Williams, PH.D, about 20% of the population has levels of hostility that are high enough to endanger their own health.