Summary: Wrath is the fourth deadly sin that tempts us. By wrath, we are talking about God’s wrath or judgment but about our anger and what we do with it.
June 1, 2008
The fourth deadly sin that we will look at is wrath. Now if we remember the purpose here is to help us look at ourselves to understand ourselves and to seek God’s strength and forgiveness to change our character one decision at a time. This was the first sermon of this series, which can be found online. In short, the purpose is to help us live in the light.
Let’s clarify something. In the bible, the word for wrath (orge) is primarily (but not exclusively) used in the context of God’s wrath and judgment. Usually the picture is God bringing judgment as in Romans 2:5, “But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” However, in terms of “deadly sins,” traditionally this is understood as the sin of anger. So that is what we are really going to look at: anger.
There are literally hundreds of passages about anger, hatred, and wrath. For example, Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 2:24 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered.” Lots of advice from scripture indicating that this is an important topic especially in our culture.
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her class of five and six-year-olds. After explaining the commandment to honor thy father and thy mother, she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"
Without missing a beat, one little boy while looking at his twin brother answered, "Thou shall not kill."
Here is how we are going to approach this. I am going to share a little of my story and how anger has affected me. We’ll look at a couple of Scriptures and then I have a few things that might help you address anger in your own life.
If there is one emotion that I have been familiar with it is anger. I lived with anger for most of my childhood and teenage years. It became quite comfortable and familiar so much as that most other responses such as disappointment and fear became masked by my anger.
Now what I am telling you has taken many years of prayer, contemplation, and introspection to uncover. It didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen accidentally. I had to be intentional about facing my “demons” and what was hidden deep in my heart.
As a child, I got into a lot of fights. I don’t believe I was a bully but just had an extremely short fuse. I remember walking after school and a kid that I didn’t know ran by me and accidentally bumped me. I took off after him and caught him at the corner and proceeded to pummel him.
I even picked fights with bigger and older kids mouthing off to them. I wasn’t always angry and brooding but I would just let myself basically erupt. Part of the reason that I now know has to do with my parents. For the first two years of my life, I was basically raised by my grandmother. My mother was around but was doing what she wanted. When she finally decided to take full responsibility, I was placed into daycare while she worked at the age of three. As I look back at it, I just wasn’t ready.
I was one of the first generation of kids that went to daycare while both parents worked. My friends got summers off to play. I had to go to daycare. My friends played for several hours after school. I went to daycare.
I was angry and really didn’t know why and didn’t understand that these were feelings that I had to deal with. In fourth grade, my mother quit her job and decided to stay home and take a break from working. This did help. I got into a lot less fights. But by then anger were was too comfortable and ingrained into me. I was beginning to stuff it down because acting out got me into too much trouble.
Now I don’t blame my mother. I’ve worked through it. My parents did an incredible amount of things that were wonderful for me and I’ve learned to appreciate those things. I’m sharing this to help you see the problem with anger that I had.
Eventually, I began using pot and drinking. I gravitated toward rock and eventually into heavy metal and thrash because this music fed my negative emotions. In fact, there were specific songs that I couldn’t hear for several years later without having a response that put me emotionally back in that place.