Summary: The first part of the series on anger Management for Believers begins with an introduction and a shocking truth that all anger is not sin.
Do you remember the television adaption of “The Incredible Hulk?” It was sort of a remake of the fugitive with the addition of a giant green monster. Dr. Banner, in times of anger would transform into a raging monster. The monster would rampage about, crashing through walls, throwing cars and people about, and generally making a mess. Somehow, this would solve the problems of the people who Dr. Banner met while forcing Dr. Banner to move on. At the end of every episode the viewer was treated to a hauntingly sad piano melody as Dr. Banner shouldered his backpack and struck out down the highway.
There was a classic line that was part of the opening sequence of every episode. In order to explain the presence of this green monster a narrator would explain how it came to be and we would see cut scenes from earlier episodes. One of those cut scenes featured mild mannered Dr. Banner speaking to a persistent newspaper reporter and saying, “Don’t make me angry! You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” What a great line!
Do you find yourself warning people not to make you angry? I know for years I would blame everyone around me for making me angry, never realizing that when I lost control of my temper it was not their fault. In the pages that follow I will discuss anger as a choice. I will shock some of you by declaring that anger itself, is not necessarily sin. I will offer you some of the lessons that I’ve managed to learn through God’s amazing grace.
However, the first thing I want to share with you is based on that clever line from the aforementioned television series. People will not like you when you are angry. Your anger does not lend itself to love and it does not cause people to respect you. If you use your anger and get your way then it is not out of respect that people give in. Instead, they submit to you to appease your anger. Therefore, such submission is not based on love, or even what is right or wrong. Instead, that submission is based on fear. If you look into the eyes of your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your neighbors, and all of the other people you are having conflict with you will not see love or respect, you will see fear.
I want you to recognize that your unmanaged anger will never produce righteousness in your life or in anyone else’s life. You can’t bring yourself or others closer to God and live an angry lifestyle. In other words, though you might win the conflicts that you think produces that anger, you really cultivate an atmosphere of fear and distrust. Those who have to deal with your anger will conceal or delay presentation of negative information to you. They will not trust you to help resolve problems. They will fear the explosion that they have seen over and over and over again.
Like Dr. Banner, I want you to realize that your unmanaged anger will only serve to isolate you from the very people you love and care about. I want you to understand that not only do people not like you when you are angry, but God is not pleased either. In the comics, the Hulk’s angry rampages often left Dr. Banner sitting somewhere, half-clothed, (sometimes in the snow) tired, and isolated. Perhaps most moving was that his anger only served to isolate him further from his true love and his friends. Further, the Hulk prevents Dr. Banner from forming any solid relationships because there is always the fear that Dr. Banner will lose control of his angry alter-ego and wreck havoc. Finally, the Hulk’s rampages have often destroyed the very items that might have been used to “cure” Dr. Banner of his anger-filled transformations. Here the illustration begins to break down a bit. Dr. Banner’s transformation was initially caused by an exposure to gamma radiation so it is thought if he could reduce the gamma level in his body then he would be cured. I would contend that he would be cured of the horrifying transformation, but his anger problem would still exist. Sadly, there is no easy fix for an angry person. It all requires hard work, much prayer, a great deal of repentance, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the life of the believer.
While Dr. Banner’s example is a pretty vivid picture I want to show you a picture that is similar that comes not from the mind of a great comic book writer but from reality. I want to show you a Biblical example of the out-of-control man. If you read Mark 5 you will encounter a nonfictional version of the Hulk when you read of the Demoniac who identified himself as “legion.” First, he was living alone in the tombs. He was isolated from the people he loved and who loved him. Second, he was uncontrollable. He had often been bound in chains and no man could subdue him. Third, he was tormented night and day, so much so that he was cutting himself. This is exactly where Satan wants to put the believer. He wants to isolate us. He uses the fear we cause others in our out-of-control anger to prevent people from getting close to us. Finally, we find ourselves involved in self-destructive behavior in hopes of finding some ease.