God’s Answers for Our Anger
God’s Answers for Our Anger
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 14, 2018
*Please open your Bibles to Ephesians 4 to see what God has to say about our anger. Here Paul is speaking to Christians, and on some level, all of us have to face up to our anger. If you don’t believe it, take a bottle away from any happy baby, and in two seconds you will have a very angry person on your hands.
*Anger can be a big problem for us. But God has the answers for our anger. Please think about that as we read Ephesians 4:20-32.
*Do you ever lose your temper? Have you ever had a big blow up over something really small? Have you ever gotten mad, and said something you shouldn’t have said, something you didn’t mean, something you wish you could take back?
*Well, you’re not alone. Some of us struggle with our anger more than others. But all of us have been there to one degree or another. And all of us have to overcome our anger on some level. The good news is that God has the answers for our anger! And here’s what to do:
1. First: We need to see the ugliness of our ungodly anger.
*God wants us to see the ugliness of our ungodly anger. But please understand that some anger is appropriate. In vs. 26, Paul tells Christians to "be angry and sin not." One reason why this is possible is because there is such a thing as good anger. We know this is true because God gets angry, and He never does anything wrong.
*A good place to see the Lord's righteous anger is in Mark 3:1-5. There God's Word says this about Jesus:
1. And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.
2. And they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.
3. Then He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Step forward.''
4. And He said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?'' But they kept silent.
5. So when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand.'' And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.
*God gets angry, and we are created in the image of God, so godly anger is good. In fact, the only good anger is godly anger. There is such a thing as righteous indignation. And God will put us in places to take a stand for truth, for justice, for righteousness, and for Him.
*At the right time, in the right way, for the right reason, godly anger is good. But most of the time when we get angry, we do sin. That's the problem. And that’s the main reason why in vs. 26, Paul said: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath."
*James 1:16-20 helps us understand. There God’s Word says this to Christians:
16. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
19. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
*Our ungodly anger is an unrighteous, ugly thing, and it can cause terrible damage in our lives. That’s why in vs. 26, Paul said: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath."
*Proverbs 14:17 says, "He who is quick-tempered acts foolishly, and a man of wicked intentions is hated."
-Proverbs 15:18 in the NAS says: "A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute."
-The NLT says: "A hothead starts fights; a cool-tempered person tries to stop them."
*That's why Psalm 37:8 tells us to "cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it only causes harm."
*We need to see the ugliness of our ungodly anger. Will Rogers once said: "Whenever you fly into a rage, you seldom make a safe landing." -- And he was right. (1)
*Philip Ryken said: "We need to see how destructive our anger is, both to ourselves and to others. Unrighteous rage destroys the intimacy between a husband and wife, the friendship between a parent and child, the effectiveness of a work force, and the ministry of any Christian who won't get their temper under control. And if we are going to make any progress in this area, we need to see how serious a sin it really is." (2)
*So again, Psalm 37:8 says "cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it only causes harm." We need to understand the ugliness of our anger. It can cause more harm than we can imagine.
*Have you ever seen a fight break out at a ballgame? Most of us have, on TV anyway. I remember a church softball game I was at years ago. A guy got called out at second base and he didn't like it. He blew up in a storm, and got so mad, that he went over and pushed the ump down.
*What made it worse was the ump was a woman. -- Yeah. That man had to do the walk of shame. And the church softball game was pretty much over after that.
*Our ungodly anger can do more damage than we could possibly imagine. Back in the spring of 1894, the Baltimore Orioles went to Boston to play a routine baseball game. And at some point, the Orioles’ John McGraw got into a fight with the Boston third baseman. Within minutes all the players from both teams had joined in the brawl.
*The battle quickly spread to the grandstands, and went from bad to worse. Someone set fire to the stands and the whole ballpark burned to the ground. Then the fire spread to 107 other buildings in Boston! (3)
*Uncontrolled anger is always destructive. It can be dangerous, disastrous, and even deadly.
*I remember when I first realized how ugly my anger could be. It was way back in 1976. Mary and I had been married a little over a year, and I had started losing my temper with her. I had no idea how bad it was until the night we were eating up at Piccadilly, and I lost my temper in the restaurant over nothing. All of a sudden, I realized that people all around us were looking at me. And it was a turning point, because I began to see how ugly my anger really was.
2. God wants us to see the ugliness of our ungodly anger. -- He also wants us to accept the ownership of our anger.
*Again in vs. 26, Paul said: "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." "Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath." When we get mad, it's our anger. Nobody makes us get mad.
*As aggravating as people can be sometimes, when we get mad, the problem is not them. It’s us. It’s our heart, -- our problem. We will never get over ungodly anger if we live in denial, or try to push the blame off on someone else.
*Philip Ryken said: "We need to take full responsibility for our angry words and actions. The problem is not somewhere outside of us, no matter how often we say that it is. The problem lies inside, where anger first boils in our hearts.
*The angry father who rages at his children, the caustic wife who berates her husband with angry criticism, the troubled child who scorns his parents, the Little League parent who yells at the ump, the bitter employee who tears down management, the church member who badmouths someone else in the congregation: These angry people often say that someone else is the problem. But the Bible tells us that our anger is our problem." (2)
3. We need to accept the ownership of our anger. -- But we also need to consider the cause of our anger.
*Paul tells Christians to "be angry and sin not." But why are we angry? Generally, it’s because we have sin and selfishness in our hearts. But let’s look a little deeper, because it can make a big difference.
*After all, there are a lot of pressures in our lives. We are pushed by many circumstances. Often the source of frustration comes from our jobs. Lots of people are stressed out and angry because of work.
*Why was I losing my temper with Mary all those years ago? -- It turned out that it had nothing to do with her. It was near the end of my first year of teaching, and things were not going well. Now the second year was a hundred times better, but I was really miserable that first year. And I began to take it out on Mary. But when I realized the source of my frustration, it definitely helped me stop taking it out on her.
*So -- what is the underlying cause of your anger? James Dunn said that "whether it’s in the family, with friends, at work, in the church, or out in society, people get angry when they feel threatened, rejected, misunderstood, or ignored. People get angry when they feel unloved, unnoticed, unappreciated, or unfairly treated. People get angry when they feel left-out, disappointed, criticized, or harassed, overlooked, overworked or over-taxed." (4)
*What’s going on in your life? Maybe we do have frustrations. But God doesn’t want us taking them out on the people around us. Instead, take your troubles to the Lord. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to be casting all our care upon Him, for He cares for us.
*And Philippians 4:6-7 says:
6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
*God wants us to take our troubles to the Lord.
4. So it helps to consider the cause of our anger. -- But most of all, trust Christ to help you control your anger.
*This is the most important thing we can do: Trust in Jesus Christ to help us control our anger. Paul said: "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Paul is telling us here that with God's help, we can learn how to control our anger.
*Maybe you’re thinking: "Well, I just can’t control myself like that. When I get angry, I can’t hold back. I've got to let it out." You’re wrong. Have you ever been in an argument with someone at home? And then the phone rings. You’ve been yelling and screaming your head off. Then you pick up the phone and you say: "Hello? Oh, Hi. How are you doing? I’m doing great too!" (5)
*Yes we can control our tempers, and especially when we have the help of the Lord. We can fully trust in Jesus Christ to help us, and we know this most of all because of the cross. When Jesus died on the cross for us, He took on Himself all of the righteous anger that God had for us.
*Those hard-hearted men in Mark 3 weren’t the only ones who provoked God’s anger. All of us have sinned, and deserve the righteous wrath of God. But Jesus took all of God's wrath for us when He died on the cross!
*And when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, three wonderful things happen on top of having all our sins forgiven, and getting to live forever in Heaven!
-We are born again with a new nature.
-We are new creatures in Christ.
-And we have the Holy Spirit of God living in our hearts to help us.
*So, we can do all of the things that Paul tells us to do in vs. 22-26!
-In vs. 22, we can "put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." We can learn how to throw-off our old sinful ways!
-In vs. 23, we can "be renewed in the spirit of our minds."
-In vs. 24, we can "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." In other words, "We can get all dressed up in the righteousness of God!"
-In vs. 25, we can "put away lying, and speak the truth."
-And in vs. 26, we can "be angry, and sin not." And we can control our wrath before the sun goes down.
*If we have trusted in Jesus Christ to save us, then we can trust Him to change us. We can trust Him to make us better. We can trust Him to take away our anger too.
5. Trust Christ to help you control your anger. But there is another essential to help us overcome our anger: Forgive others as we have been forgiven.
*God wants us to forgive others as we have been forgiven, And His Word stresses this truth down in vs. 31-32, where Paul wrote:
31. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
*If we're ever going to overcome our anger, we have to forgive others as we have been forgiven. But what is forgiveness? James Merritt tells us that biblical forgiveness literally means "to let go" or "to send away."
*And Merritt said: "Forgiveness takes place when we release to the Lord any bitterness we feel we have a right to have toward someone else. Forgiveness is the willingness to put both the offender and the offense into God's hands, and let Him take care of the matter."
*Dr. Archibald Hart defined forgiveness as "giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me." And James Merritt wisely noted that "forgiveness is the only cure for the emotional cancer of bitterness." (6)
*If we're going to overcome our anger, we have to forgive as we have been forgiven. So Christians: How did Jesus forgive us?
-His forgiveness is undeserved, unlimited and unending.
-His forgiveness was costly, compassionate and complete.
-Jesus forgives us sacrificially, lovingly, patiently, repeatedly, and eternally!
*Every person in this world deserves eternal punishment for our sins. But God loves us, and sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. Now God calls us to forgive as we have been forgiven, and God will help us! The Lord can give us amazing power to forgive. It is certainly possible for our hearts to be changed!
*Author and youth leader Josh McDowell wrote of the love and forgiveness he found for his own dad. Listen to part of his testimony:
-"(My dad) epitomized everything I hated. He was the town drunk. My high school friends would make jokes about him making a fool of himself around town. Sometimes when we had company, I would tie Dad up in the barn and tell the company that he had to go on an important call."
*When Josh became a Christian, God's grace transformed his hatred for his father into love. Shortly after getting saved, Josh was injured in a car accident. His dad came to visit him in his hospital room.
*At one point as they were talking together, Dad broke down and said, "Josh, I've been the worst kind of father to you. How can you love a man like me?" Josh answered "Dad, six months ago I couldn't. But now, through Jesus Christ, I can love you."
*Josh explained what God's grace had done in his life, and he told his dad about the cross of Jesus Christ. Before leaving that hospital room, Josh McDowell's father had committed his life to Jesus Christ. He was a changed man!
*Scores of people who saw the change in his life also came to know Jesus Christ. Ans a year later this changed man died, at peace with God and at peace with his son. (7)
*That's a testimony of the power at work in the life of every believer: The power to forgive. Christians: We can't do that by ourselves, but God will help us forgive. And that takes the fire out of our anger.
*God doesn’t want us to just manage our anger. He wants us to master it! He wants us to overcome it. And we can, because He will help us!
*So put your trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Then let Jesus help you overcome your anger. Let Jesus heal the hurt. Let Jesus give you the victory as we go to God in prayer.
(1) Original source unknown
(2) Adapted from "Anger Management" by Philip Ryken - Window on the World - 03132005
(3) Adapted from Our Daily Bread, August 13, 1992 - Source: SermonCentral sermon "Lord, Why Am I So Angry" by James Dunn - 1 Samuel 18:1-15
(4) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Lord, Why Am I So Angry" by James Dunn - 1 Samuel 18:1-15
(5) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Overcoming Anger" by Melvin Newland - Proverbs 19:11
(6) Dr. Archibald quote from "Home with a Heart" by James Dobson, p. 100 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "Doing Right When You Have Been Done Wrong" by James Merritt - Ephesians 4:31-32
(7) Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict - Arrowhead Springs, California: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972, p. 374 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "The House of Hope" by Curtis Lewis - Hosea 2:14-20