#6 (The “Great Escapes” Series)
"ESCAPE FROM ANGER!"
TEXTS: Matt. 5:22; Prov. 19:19; 22:24-25; Eph. 4:26; Jonah 4:1-2; James 1:19-21
INTRO: Nothing has done more good or harm to this world than anger! That might sound strange ... but anger is like a coin, there are two different sides to it. Anger can be a force for good when we are angry over the right things or it can be a force for evil when we are angry over the wrong things.
Most of the problems we have are over anger issues that are of the wrong kind of anger. Unhealthy anger and its release can have devastating impact on the person out of control and on those they love. God offers ways to escape the negative forms of anger and the destructive effects it has on people and relationships.
Just remember this; the man who says he is so angry that he is going to give you a piece of his mind will have less of a mind to work with after he has done so! Those who have a sharp tongue usually cut their own throats ... and finally, the emptier the pot, the quicker it comes to a boil!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we can really hurt and destroy our lives and others with the wrong kind of anger and our inability to control it ... the good news is that God has given us measures we can apply to escape the dangers of damaging anger!
I. POWER OF ANGER
1. Anger can really motivate people!
a. Anger can create a level of motivation that is unyielding and much focused!
b. Jesus became quite angry at the
money changers in the
(1. Because of this righteous anger Jesus was determined to shut them down!
(2. With great boldness He overturned their tables and lashed out at them!
c. At times, anger can be a great help in overturning evil; if we are angry at the right thing at the right time and deal with it in the right way!
2. Anger therefore is a God-created dynamic of our personality. God Himself possesses the ability to get angry, by itself therefore anger is not sinful; it is a normal part of being human!
3. Anger can sometimes help us solve problems with creative insights, it often opens our minds to search for answers in innovative ways.
ILLUS: A young man named Gregory Elder spent many days on the east coast growing up. As a young man he enjoyed creating castles in the sand, even whole cities. One time over several days he became angry over several young bullies that would come by and kick his creations into oblivion! Frustrated and angry and hopelessly outnumbered by these bullies he finally found a creative way to solve his determination to teach these bullies a lesson. The next day he built his sand castles around cinder blocks and large rocks, outwardly they looked no different than any other day. Sure enough the bullies showed up near the end of day to ruin his creation ... he took off while they took their shoes and socks off and began to kick with great swings! You can guess the results! – Source Unknown
1. Anger however can also take a destructive route. We see this all too often in the world and in our own lives!
2. Unfortunately, anger usually takes this route ... the strength of the emotion usually drives us to react before thinking or to respond with unforgiveness and resentment.
a. In fact, without taking some important steps before responding when we become angry we almost guarantee the results will be destructive!
b. Unguided and unreasoned anger become destructive in its goal and destructive to the one who possesses it.
ILLUS: Alexander the Great was energetic, versatile, and intelligent … most of the time quite focused on his goals, very disciplined ... but anger was his Achilles’ heel! He had few weaknesses which are why he was so successful and nearly conquered the world. His only weakness was his quick temper. On one occasion his dearest friend all through his life from boyhood was celebrating with him and some others. His friend, a general, drank a little too much and began chiding Alexander in front of the others, making some jokes about him. Alexander's quick temper kicked in and he grabbed a spear nearby to sling at his best friend to scare him, but his anger obscured his normally good aim and instead of missing his friend, he speared him right through and killed him! Deep remorse gripped Alexander and guilt; he tried to take his own life but was stopped in time by his men. For days he laid sick, calling for his friend and chiding himself as a horrible murderer. For all the many victories and cities he had won he had lost the most important battle ... the one against destructive anger in his own heart! It was his downfall most of his life! – Source Unknown
II. PENALTY OF ANGER Matt. 5:22; Prov. 19:19
A. Divisive Matt. 5:22
1. We must distinguish between destructive anger and fleeting anger:
a. Fleeting anger will strike us many times but it usually doesn't leave broken lives all over ... it is usually momentary and thus not long lasting.
b. Strong anger that doesn't subside becomes the dangerous kind.
2. Jesus in this passage distinguishes between these two types:
a. "Raca" was a phrase that meant something like "you nitwit" ... a form of anger that should still be dealt with so it doesn’t become something worse, hence the accountability of being answerable to the Sanhedrin. We still should be challenged by this kind of attitude before it become something worse, but it is not a level of anger that is likely to become severely destructive!
b. "You fool" however is a much stronger type of anger, more long lasting ... the kind that seeks to destroy and humiliate others, to tear them down! To this kind of anger Jesus warns that HIS judgment rests on the angry man ... a much more serious indictment than having to be just challenged by mere men like the Sanhedrin!
c. This "you fool" anger destroys relationships, it is divisive and not healing oriented. Jesus warns that this type of anger will return the same kind of penalty that the one angry is trying to impose on others!
3. Anger of this second type divides people and destroys them ... it never accepts blame or weakness, it only blames others and focuses on their shortcomings, it is arrogant and selfish and seeks their destruction and humiliation.
ILLUS: Like the manager of a minor league team who became so angry and disgusted with his center fielder's performance that he ordered him out of the game and to the dugout, and to prove his superiority he assumed the position himself ... to show how it was supposed to be done. The first ball that came to him took a bad hop and struck him in the mouth. The next ball that came to him was high and he lost it in the glare of the sun and missed catching it! The third ball that came to him was a line drive that he reached for with an outstretched arm but missed and it shot right into his eye! Now more angry that before and hurting too badly to play he came into the dugout and grabbed the center fielder unleashing his intensified anger by shaking the man and shouting, "You've got center field so messed up that even I can't do a thing with it!" – Source Unknown
4. You can't build the body of Christ with a temper problem! It will drive others away and leave you high and dry with aloneness!
a. Since it is difficult for Satan to get inside a church he settles for getting inside a saint through anger and unleashes all kinds of division and pain!
b. Anger is the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit called "Gentleness and self-control."
c. Those that hurt or destroy Christ's body (the church) will have to deal with Christ who takes His body (the church) very seriously!
B. Debt Prov. 19:19
1. How do we help a saint who has an anger problem?
a. First we should challenge them, call them to honestly face the reality of their problem.
b. By showing them real love ... love that not only embraces them as a fellow Christian, but love that refuses to accept ungodly reactions from them!
2. This verse speaks clearly 2 important truths about anger:
a. There are penalties to face if we choose to allow unrestrained anger to express itself in our lives!
b. The friends who rescue hot-tempered people by taking away those penalties do not save or help them – they prolong the problem of their friend by negating the penalties!
c. This is one of the problems of our criminal justice system today ... tough penalties are thought to be cruel and useless, so courts often give many light sentences and then we wonder why there are so many repeat offenders!
3. The intensity of the anger should be met by an equal intensity of penalty! This is also demonstrated in Jesus' words in Matt. 5:22 when Jesus said the low level of "Raca" anger should be challenged by the Sanhedrin; still a humbling experience, but not as intense as the other kind of intense "you fool" anger that will bring about the judgment of God Himself ... a much stiffer penalty exacted here!
III. PURGING ANGER Eph. 4:26; Prov. 22:24-25; Jonah 4:1-2; James 1:19-21
A. Deadlines Eph. 4:26
1. Once we understand the difference between anger that is ok -- (is the focus to correct something or destroy something or someone?) and anger that is ungodly, we will need to have some guidelines to deal with it. We are going to look at 4 Biblical ways of handling anger that will greatly lessen its destructive nature:
2. The first way acknowledges that normal responses of anger if not channeled correctly in the human being can become sin!
3. The first guideline for keeping anger from becoming destructive in our lives or damaging others is to put a deadline on its unresolved emotional nature!
a. Here Paul says “to not let the sun go down while you are angry.” Eph. 4:26
b. Paul's idea here is to not let a long period of time pass without the emotion of anger finding a resolution ... a real solution.
c. Anger by its nature ... even the good type can become evil if allowed to simmer! THE LONGER SOMETHING COOKS THE TOUGHER IT BECOMES!
4. Because anger involves strong emotions that can easily get out of control and because anger can also distort our thinking processes it is a dangerous thing to allow a long time between the onset of the emotion and the resolution of the problem!
ILLUS: After the Civil war had ended and Robert E. Lee who had surrendered and lost was visiting Kentucky, he came upon a woman who was still angry over the North's treatment of her home and property. She took the former general of the Confederate Army to her front yard where she pointed out what was once a grand oak tree that had been badly damaged from mortar and bullets from the Union army. She was hoping for Lee to condemn the North or at least an expression of sympathy from him for what the North had done to the once beautiful oak. After a brief silence Lee said, "Cut it down my dear Madam, and forget it." His point was simple ... if it's presence was going to keep stirring her anger then get rid of it so you can get rid of the anger, the past cannot be changed, move past it or the anger will never leave! Put a deadline on it! – Source Unknown
5. This is probably the biggest reason some Christians don't overcome their anger problems, they don't resolve the issues surrounding their anger, they just continue to hang onto the emotion of anger without resolution!
a. You will never succeed in solving an anger problem if you simply ignore the issues that make you angry.
b. If you can't let go of the anger in a short time then deal with it!
c. The phrase in Eph. is quite important "Lest you give the Devil a foothold." Unresolved anger is a most effective tool that Satan uses to destroy our spiritual development!
6. A runner that has no finish line to cross will eventually wear out and never accomplish a goal! Have a finish line to anger!
a. Paul's use of "don't let the sun go down" certainly implies that the time limit should be a brief one!
b. Too often we tell ourselves ... “I'll just wait a few days, or weeks, then I'll deal with it!” ... more damage sets in during that time!
c. The shorter the time poison sits in your body the better the recovery when it is treated by a physician ... the same works with anger!
B. Distance Prov. 22:24-25
1. The next way to overcome anger in your life might sound a bit strange, but it is very practical and helpful!
a. Avoid being close friends with others who easily become angry and are out of control!
b. This is not a statement to encourage arrogance or superiority ... it is practical in the sense that if you have a problem in this area you are not likely to get help for it from someone else who has the same problem if they are still out of control too!
c. While it is true that others with a similar problem can help people with the same problem it works only when one of those people have overcome the problem!
2. An individual who is easily out of control with their anger can only teach you to do likewise ... be careful who you become close associates with, otherwise it is the proverbial “blind leading the blind.”
a. The antithesis of this principle also works ... if anger is your problem, get close to someone who has this area of their life under control and learn from them!
b. We often do become like those we hang around! (ANGRY PARENTS -- ANGRY KIDS!)
c. Yes, Jesus spent time with broken people ... but the largest amount of His time was spent with His disciples, these are the ones He was "closest" to.
d. It doesn't mean avoid people with problems, but build close relationships with those who can teach us strengths, not weaknesses!
3. If control for you is a problem keep some distance from those who have no control ... otherwise it might become a stumbling block for you!
ILLUS: Remember years ago the man who lived on Mount St. Helens, just before it blew he was warned to put some distance between him and the volcano. He chose to ignore the warnings believing that he would be fine. There wasn't in his mind any danger of being so close to a "hot headed volcano!" Unfortunately he learned otherwise, some distance could have spare his life ... some distance from "hot-heads" might spare you some damage too! – Source Unknown
C. Diagnosis Jonah 4:1-2
1. The 3rd step to overcoming anger is to diagnose the reasons for your anger with complete honesty!
a. Jonah was tremendously angry over Nineveh's repentance. God questioned him to get him to think of the reasons for his anger!
b. God was hoping that by getting him to think of the reasons for his anger He might nudge him to realize how unfounded and ridiculous his anger really was!
c. In Jonah's case this first attempt at reason didn't seem to work, but God continued this approach right unto the end of the book; and since Jonah wrote the book he must have eventually come around!
2. It is important to learn to put REASON to REACTION, lest we become simply a reactionary to our emotional states, otherwise this will get you into lots of painful situations throughout your life!
3. Here's where praying is so helpful, it forces you to talk to God about your anger, this will inevitably include the process of reasoning! As you pray you begin to see how out of control you are, or how petty you are acting, and some healing process begins to occur as well as the KNOWLEDGE that you really need to deal with the issue.
4. Without reason anger will greatly distort reality!
a. Angry people tend to believe that NO ONE likes them!
b. Angry people ALWAYS question the motives of the people they are angry at even though reason might suggest that it isn't likely that the person who made them angry is a “Saddam Hussein!”
c. Anger loves to rejoice over pain that comes to those we are angry at and even justifies that pleasure by such statements such as "they deserve it!"
D. Discipline James 1:19-21
1. Anger cannot be overcome without discipline on our part!
a. "Quick to listen..."
b. "Slow to speak..."
c. "Slow to become angry!"
2. This requires effort on part, deliberate effort!
a. This is what discipline is, deliberate effort!
b. Overcoming anger doesn't JUST HAPPEN without effort!
3. Just being quick to listen ... but not slow to speak won't solve the problem!
a. Plenty of people are willing to learn about how to overcome anger ... but you have to have more than just the FACTS.
b. You must also APPLY THE FACTS ... the “slow to speak” part!
c. The "slow to anger" is the result of the application of the knowledge!
d. It is the deliberate application or discipline of knowledge with application!
4. Yes, it will require effort and probably some time to overcome an anger problem.
5. The results can be most freeing however for you and for those who are on the receiving end of your anger problem!
a. James says "anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."
b. Therefore, if we desire real righteousness that pleases God we will have to successfully guide and control the emotion we call anger to conform to God's understanding of the use of anger!
c. There is victory for those who follow this 4 fold plan for controlling anger!
lack of discipline can be most damaging.
Each spring the
CONCLUSION: God made us to feel anger! There is no sin in the emotion, but there can be in its expression! If your history with anger is more destructive than constructive you need to know that God has steps to help you escape from anger. You must take the steps however to be free! DOESN'T IT MAKE YOU ANGRY WHEN PEOPLE DON'T TRY!?