Faithlife Sermons

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Ever had the experience?
You lose your cool and say things that you later wish you could take back, but just don’t know how?
Maybe you’ve even made a commitment to the Lord to control your anger, but then your wife is late again, and on the very day when it is so important for you to be on time.
Maybe it’s your husband who forgot your birthday again after swearing on a stack of Bibles that he’d never do that again.
Maybe it’s your teenage son.
He knows just what it takes to push your buttons and he loves to do just that.
He gets on your last nerve and you find yourself shouting at him, all the while asking yourself how you got so out of control?
Have you been there?
Maybe you live in anger.
You walk around with a constant “background” of frustration and anger in your heart constantly, and you don’t know why.
I know many of you do, whether you will admit it or not.
The truth is, all of us, from time to time become angry and we have many ways of dealing with it.
When it comes to dealing with anger, some of us are what I call “sickos”.
The “sickos” are those among us who deal with anger by “stuffing” it down.
We push and push and stuff and stuff and then paint a grin on our face and try to fool the world into thinking that everything is ok.
There’s only one problem: on the inside our anger is just smoldering and waiting for the time when our attention is turned so that it can erupt.
A “sicko” is someone who plays “wack-a-mole” with his feelings.
You’ve seen those games where you have this pillow hammer and whenever the head pops out of the hole, you whack it back down and it just pops up out of another hole.
That’s the way stuffed down anger is, it may be pushed down here, but it will pop back up over there.
And that’s not all.
Stuffed down anger will hurt you.
There’s a reason I call this group “sickos”.
Its because handling your anger this way will actually make you sick.
In fact, studies have shown that chronic suppressed anger activates the sympathetic nervous system response.
This fight or flight response results in the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Over a period of time, these hormones weaken the blood vessels in the body, resulting in increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Stuffing down your anger will make you sick.
And being a sicko really messes up your family life.
It erodes your ability to really be transparent with your mate.
You know that you really can’t express the anger you may be feeling, so you begin to compartmentalize your life.
You have the persona you keep up around your wife and the real hidden territory of your heart.
You can’t be for real with your family because you know that, if you showed the frustration that is really in your heart, you would totally annihilate your relationship with them, so you hide.
I want you to know that’s a dangerous place to be.
Compartmentalization is bad because, once you start faking it about your frustration, you may fake it about other things.
This is one reasons husbands begin hidden affairs.
They’ve learned to hide their anger from their wife, so they follow that with hiding their adultery from their wife.
They are sickos.
When it comes to dealing with anger, there are the “sickos, but there are also the “psychos.”
These are the people who invented road rage.
They don’t stuff down their anger they are like active volcanoes spewing out the lava of an enraged heart.
Wherever they walk the grass singes brown and dies.
You can always find them because in their wake they leave wounded hearts, broken relationships, and sometimes damage that is much worse than even that.
They are the psychos.
Well, there are the psychos and the sickos.
And then there are the sullen.
These are the people that don’t just stuff down anger, they hold onto it.
Conversations with them are historical.
They can recite every wrong done to them in their life and you get the distinct impression when they tell you their story that a ten-year old event just happened yesterday.
There’s one thing you rarely see on their face: a smile!
These are not happy people.
They are disillusioned, cynical, negative people who are bitter and they may not even know it.
I don’t know about you, but none of these conditions appeal to me.
I bet they don’t appeal to you either, but what in the world can we do about it?
How can we conquer our anger?
How can we keep our cool when our last nerve is gone?
Well, the Apostle Paul addresses the issue.
In fact it is one of the first issues he addresses when he speaks to the Ephesian Church about how their position as believers should impact their lives and promote their unity.
Churches are melting pots, or at least they should be.
They should be places where people with different backgrounds and experiences can come and enjoy being a part of the unified family of God.
But along the way as we are doing that there will be plenty of opportunities to practice what God’s Word tells us in Ephesians 4:26,27, where he says,
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.
Now that instruction is important not just because the Apostle wrote it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
No it is important because quite possibly the most destructive emotion to the health and well being of your family could possibly be this one: anger.
I’ll take it further: It is anger that finds its expression in words that hit like a fist.
If that is so, how are we to handle it.
More importantly, how are we to conquer it.
Well in these 22 words, we get the answer.
We are told first that we must:
Now I say its dangerous because of what giving into anger causes.
You see it actually in verse 27.
It says “Be angry and do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, (verse 27) nor give place to the devil.
The Bible tells us there that the result of not conquering our anger; the result of becoming a sicko, a psycho, or a sullen husband, wife, father, mother, or child is that we will “give place to the devil.”
The Greek word “place” is topos and suggests our English word “topography” It means “any portion of space marked off from the surrounding territory.”
Literally when you let your temper go, you invite the devil to take territory in your life.
You give him a foot hold.
It’s like standing on your front porch and crying out, “Come on Satan, come right into my house and take over.”
And what happens when you do that?
What heartache does Satan’s action through your anger cause?
Well in the first place, it effects everyone around you.
It will cause disunity in the body of Christ.
When there is anger between different belivers, the body is disunified and the Holy Spirit cannot work.
One commentator wrote:
Jesus stated that the devil has nothing to do with truth . . . he is a deceiver.
This is why Paul does not want believers to give the devil an opportunity by their anger.
The devil twists and distorts the truth.
If there is no quick restoration between parties, further anger mounts and dissension and revenge often results.
No wonder Henry Brandt says that “‘anger’ is only one letter away from ‘danger’”.
It cedes territory to Satan.
And, by the way, it doesn’t just effect everyone else, it will effect you too.
Not only will it cause disunity in the body, but it will also cause you to defect from your commitment to Christ.
In fact, Satan uses anger more than anything else to discourage believers and cause them to turn their back on Christ and walk away from their faith.
I’ve seen it many times.
One of the most pronounced I ever saw was several years ago.
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