Summary: Understanding what anger does to us and how to deal with our anger wisely from the book of Proverbs.
This sermon was introduced with a drama called "The Killing of Nash"
Jesus said a lot of controversial things during his life. One of the things he said was that anger is a form of murder. Jesus said, "You’ve heard that it was said, "Thou shalt not murder," and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment" (Matthew 5:21-22).
You see, Jesus knew that murder was the fruit, but anger was the root. And although not all anger ends in violence, all violence grows out of the roots of anger. Jesus knew the only way to confront the fruit of violence was to root it out where it starts, as anger.
But it’s one thing to know that; quite another to actually root anger out of our lives. Everyone has anger; it’s a universal emotion. How can we deal with our anger in a way that honors God? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
We’ve been in a series based on the Old Testament book of Proverbs called Wise Up About Life. In this series I’ve likened God’s wisdom to the grain of the world we live in. When God created the universe, he created our world with a kind of moral grain in it, similar to the grain you see in a piece of wood. The wise person learns to live with the grain of God’s world, while the foolish person lives life against the grain. In this series we’ve been looking at different life issues, and how to live with the grain of God’s wisdom as it relates to that life issue. We’ve talked about wising up about leadership, alcohol, conflict, parenting, money, sex, the environment, and your parents so far. Next week we’ll be finishing this series by talking about wising up about our legacy.
But today we’re going to try to wise up about anger in our lives.
1. Understanding What Anger Does (Proverbs 29:22; 30:33; 12:18)
We’re going to start by trying to understand what anger does to us. Anger of course is simply an emotion. To be human is to get angry at times. Even Jesus got angry. It’s what we do with that anger, how we express it, what we do with it, that determines whether we’re wise or not.
So let’s talk about what uncontrolled anger does.
We start with Proverbs 29:22--"An angry person stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins."
The Hebrew word translated "angry" here is a graphic word. The Hebrew word literally pictures a person’s nostrils flaring. This word describes more than irritation, but it’s red hot anger. This is white knuckled, wild eyed, sweating palms, bulging veins, clenched teeth kind of anger.
The hot tempered person is just as picturesque a term as "angry" in Hebrew. The word for "hot tempered" literally means "full of poison" or "full of venom." Like a snake with fangs full of lethal venom, the hot tempered person is full of poisonous venom just waiting to spill out. This kind of person commits lots of different kinds of sins, because anger blinds us with rage.
So this proverb gives us our first insight into what anger does to us. Uncontrolled anger opens the door to sin in our lives.
This last week I attended a training conference for police chaplains. A lot of you know that I serve as a volunteer police chaplain for the Upland Police Department, and every few years they send me to this training put on by the International Conference of Police Chaplains. One of the training sessions I attended was called "Rage and Anger Management." Now I’ll confess that the reason I went to that workshop was because of this week’s topic. I figured I’d get some illustrations and examples of how anger and rage works. I wasn’t disappointed, as I heard stories about how rage and anger had ruined people’s lives
When we don’t learn wise ways of dealing with our anger, it bubbles up in ways we don’t like. And once it starts to bubble up, it’s like a boiling pan of water that keeps pushing the lid off. Once the door opens, suddenly we find ourselves doing things and saying things we never imagined possible. We hear words coming out of our mouths that in other circumstances would make us ashamed. We strike with our fists, throw things, scream and yell.
This of course was Jesus’ point, that unresolved, uncontrolled anger eventually produces the fruit of violence. Uncontrolled anger opens the door.
Now let’s look at Proverbs 30:33--"For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife."
You need to know that the words "churn," "twist," and "stir up" in this verse are all the same Hebrew verb. Proverbs gives us two images, the first of the churning of milk to produce butter. The second is a person who walks up to another person and twists their nose until it bleeds. Some of you grew up with brothers or sisters who did that do you when you were young. Well in the same way, stirring up anger produces strife in our relationships.