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Are you getting away with murder?

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TEXT  
SERIES    
TITLE    
Exegetical Idea  
Homiletical Idea  
Want them to Know?  
Want them to do?  
BIG IDEA  When you try to run with your anger it will kill your walk with God. 
PREACHING IDEA   
What’s Different?  
What difference does it make?  
DATE & PLACE DELIVERED   

 

What do they need to know? (Information)  
Why do they need to know it? (Motivation)  
What do they need to do? (Application)  
Why do they need to do it? (Inspiration)  
How can I help them remember? (Reiteration)  

 

 


Outline

Introduction

1996 US women’s Olympic gymnastics team was the first US team to ever win a team Gold medal in a fully attended Olympics.  Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Jaycie Phelps.  But, if you watched the Olympics that night there is one name that sticks out more than any other, Kerri Strug delivered the most dramatic moment of the 1996 Summer Olympics when she completed a vault (9.712) after spraining her ankle; the second vault assured the first all-around gold medal for a US Women's gymnastics team after poor vaulting by her teammates had put the medal in doubt; a poor performance by the Russian team on the beam had clinched the gold medal for the US but Strug was unaware when she made the second vault.

Kerri Strug new exactly what the criteria was that she was going to be judged on.  She knew the number she had to get and exactly what it would take to get there.  Sprained ankle or not she knew that she would have to stick that vault like she never had before and then no matter how much pain she was feeling she would have to straighten herself up and raise her hands over her head to complete the vault.  But, what if the criteria were suddenly changed on her?  What if the judges suddenly said great jump, but I don’t like her haircut so I am deducting a point. 

What if the criteria changed in your job?

  • Building a house and the inspector comes by, well everything looks in order but wait a second is today Tuesday?  Well all houses inspected on Tuesday need to be built out of 2x6 boards so you don’t pass.
  • We know that you hit all your goals and even went above and beyond what was asked, you performed exceptional at everything you were given.  However, we don’t like the color of your car so no promotion and no raise for you. Thanks for your service.
  • Or guys if you are getting ready to take that special girl out on a date.  You dress right and smell right, spend an extra 30 seconds on your hair and everything is in place.  You get to the house and her Dad gives you a geometry test and won’t let you take her out until you complete it. 

It is important to know the criteria that you will be judged on.  Martin Luther King Jr. knew this when in his famous speech he dreamed of the day when people would be judged on the content of their character and not on the color of their skin. 

We need to know what we are going to be judged on here in this life, but how much more so in the after life when God alone is our judge? 

There is a popular phrase on judging that says we judge others on their action while we judge ourselves on our intentions.  In other words when we look at others it is, “Did you get it done?”  When we look at ourselves we allow ourselves to say, “Well I meant to.”  We do this all the time, we can’t believe that so and so didn’t send a card when my mom passed away.  They called and said they had intended to, but things got a little crazy.  Well don’t’ they know things are a little crazy in my world too?  But, when we find ourselves in the same situation, I had intended to is suddenly acceptable.  We intend to help around the house, do our homework, send flowers, but we never get around to it, and we excuse ourselves, but not others. 

Jesus says that often when it comes to God we want or expect Him to judge us on our actions, but what if that were not the criteria?  What if what the way we thought God was judging us was much different than how he actually was, then the stakes are much higher than a gold medal. 

TEXT – Matthew 5:21-26

 

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 answered, "Thou shall not kill."

We focus and judge ourselves on our external actions.

In many in fact most places in life we will be judged on our external actions and not our intentions.  At work, in school, in relationships we will be judged on what we do and don’t do.  In sports this is certainly the case. 

On June 1, 2007, minor league Mississippi Braves baseball manager Phillip Wellman threw a major league tantrum that earned him the national spotlight, if only for a moment.

During a losing game against the Chattanooga Lookouts, Wellman was infuriated over a call made by the home plate umpire. Wellman charged out of the dugout, stood nose-to-nose with the umpire, and began screaming. He then framed his hands just outside the umpire's face and shook them emphatically as he blustered all the more.

Wellman then stormed toward home plate. He knelt on one knee, covered the plate with dirt, and then retraced home plate with his finger, this time about a yard wide.

Then, after a brief altercation with the third base umpire, Wellman stole third base—literally. He pulled the bag out of the ground, sauntered toward second base, and hurled it discus-style out of the infield.

But it's what happened next that got people talking. Walking back toward the pitcher's mound from second base, Wellman dropped to the ground and belly-crawled toward the mound, picked up the rosin bag, and, after pulling an imaginary pin with his teeth, lobbed it like a grenade at the home plate umpire.

Then, he headed for the outfield. On his way, Wellman uprooted second base, picked up the discarded third base, and took them with him.

Just before he left the field via the outfield wall, Wellman blew a kiss to the cheering crowd.

Wellman's temper earned him global recognition—and a three-game suspension.

The response from fans was mixed. While some appreciated Wellman's theatrics as all in good fun, others were embarrassed by the example such behavior modeled for young fans.

There may have been many managers who wanted to do what Wellman did, but they never acted on it. 

People in Jesus’ day that he was talking to thought that as long as they didn’t commit murder they were pleasing God when it comes to how they relate to others.   

We use this criteria today when we excuse actions by saying, “Hey it’s not like I killed anybody.” 

Jesus says let’s look a little closer:

  • You have resentment toward your parents
  • Treat co-workers or employees like machines who are there to serve your interests
  • You never let another person forget their mistakes, but you excuse yours
  • You treat people you don’t know like objects
  • You slander someone behind their back
  • Make another person feel foolish and inadequate so you can feel better about yourself

But hey, “I didn’t kill anybody.”  Jesus says that’s good, but not good enough.  Not murdering someone is not the finish line, but the starting point. 

                                    

If we don’t commit a murder it does not mean that we are not a murderer. 

  • God is more concerned about the intentions of our heart.
  • Person is responsible for thoughts, not just acts of violence against somebody. 
  • Jesus is not just replacing one command with another, but is trying to clarify what God intended to be our posture towards other. He wants us to live a life that more perfectly reflects the kingdom.

Are you and angry person?

 

You may not have an outward expression of anger and so you may not consider yourself an angry person.  But, it is possible that we have suppressed anger or unexpressed anger.  Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven't learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren't likely to have many successful relationships.

Even the greatest and strongest of people have trouble controlling their own emotions and anger.  Alexander the Great was one of the few men in history who seemed to deserve his descriptive title. He was energetic, versatile, and intelligent. Although hatred was not generally part of his nature, several times in his life he was tragically defeated by anger. The story is told of one of these occasions, when a dear friend of Alexander, a general in his army, became intoxicated and began to ridicule the emperor in front of his men. Blinded by anger and quick as lightning, Alexander snatched a spear from the hand of a soldier and hurled it at his friend. Although he had only intended to scare the drunken general, his aim was true and the spear took the life of his childhood friend.

Deep remorse followed his anger. Overcome with guilt, Alexander attempted to take his own life with the same spear, but he was stopped by his men. For days he lay sick, calling for his friend and chiding himself as a murderer.

Alexander the Great conquered many cities and vanquished many countries, but he had failed miserably to control his own spirit.[1]

How do we define Anger and where does it come from?

In discussing anger, Dallas Willard, a philosophy professor (The Divine Conspiracy, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998) offers a telling definition: "It is a feeling that seizes us in our body and immediately impels us toward interfering with, and possibly even harming, those who have thwarted our will and interfered with our life." Anger, Willard notes, is frequently used to make others around us change their course of action. In so doing, it thwarts their will, resulting in anger on their part. My anger feeds off your anger, and back again.

This is often the starting point of anger isn’t it?  When someone interferes with our life and our plan we get angry.  When something is not done the way or when we expected it we get angry.  How do you respond in that moment?  Mom, Dad, some, daughter, employer, husband, wife, how do you respond when something is not done just the way you want it to be done? 

Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (Such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.

Anger is contagious. In his autobiography, Number 1, Billy Martin told about hunting in Texas with Mickey Mantle. Mickey had a friend who would let them hunt on his ranch. When they reached the ranch, Mickey told Billy to wait in the car while he checked in with his friend. Mantle's friend quickly gave them permission to hunt, but he asked Mickey a favor. He had a pet mule in the barn who was going blind, and he didn't have the heart to put him out of his misery. He asked Mickey to shoot the mule for him.

When Mickey came back to the car, he pretended to be angry. He scowled and slammed the door. Billy asked him what was wrong, and Mickey said his friend wouldn't let them hunt. "I'm so mad at that guy," Mantle said, "I'm going out to his barn and shoot one of his mules!" Mantle drove like a maniac to the barn. Martin protested, "We can't do that!" But Mickey was adamant. "Just watch me," he shouted.

When they got to the barn, Mantle jumped out of the car with his rifle, ran inside, and shot the mule. As he was leaving, though, he heard two shots, and he ran back to the car. He saw that Martin had taken out his rifle, too. "What are you doing, Martin?" he yelled. Martin yelled back, face red with anger, "We'll show that son of a gun! I just killed two of his cows!" Anger can be dangerously contagious. As Proverbs puts it, "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man ... or you may learn his ways" (Proverbs 22:24-25).

Scott Bowerman, Bishopville, South Carolina. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 1

The good life that God wants for us that will be a blessing to the world and a blessing to him is one that does not harbor anger towards others.

Anger causes problems for us, others, and God. 

1. Anger will affect our productivity and what we are able to accomplish.

 

Anger is often more harmful than the injury that caused it. The story is told of the time when Leonardo da Vinci was working on his painting “The Last Supper” and became angry with a certain man. Losing his temper, he lashed the other fellow with bitter words. Returning to his canvas, Leonardo attempted to work on the face of Jesus but was so upset he could not compose himself for the painstaking work. Finally he put down his tools and sought out the subject of his wrath and asked his forgiveness. The man accepted his apology and Leonardo was able to return to his workshop and finish painting the face of Jesus.[2]

2. Anger will affect the way that we treat other people.

 

Can’t let the anger of others determine who we will be. A certain man purchased a paper at a newspaper stand. He greeted the newsman very courteously, but in return received gruff and discourteous service. Accepting the newspaper, which was rudely shoved in his face, the customer politely smiled and wished the newsman a nice weekend. A friend observed all of this and asked, “Does he always treat you so rudely?”

“Yes, unfortunately he does.”

“And are you always so polite and friendly to him?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Why are you so nice to him when he is so rude to you?”

“Because I don’t want him to decide how I am going to act.”[3]

3. Anger can and almost always does have an effect on our physical health.

Researchers from the University of Utah found there's a price to pay when couples don't get along. Videotapes recorded 150 husbands and wives discussing sensitive issues (how money is managed or doing household chores) and found the following:

Women who buried anger rather than speaking out were more likely to succumb to heart disease than wives who were vocal, the study found. And when women became domineering and controlling, rather than seeking consensus, damage was done to husbands' coronary health.

So don’t be so quick to say that, “Hey I never killed anybody.” 

4. Anger can make us consider things we never thought possible.

In the fall of 2002, Rick Garmon's daughter, Katie, became a victim of date rape. She was 18-years-old at the time and a freshman in college. Too humiliated to speak about what had happened—even with her family—Katie switched schools and attempted to move on with her life.

However, the scars of that traumatic event began to fester. Over the next 14 months, she withdrew from her family and friends. She developed an eating disorder and began losing weight. Finally confronted by her mother, Julie, Katie confessed the truth. Fortunately, after a year of fervent prayer and support, Katie was able to overcome the pain and return to a normal life.

Unfortunately, Katie was not the only one struggling with inner-demons during that year. Her father was fighting his own battle against the desire for revenge at any cost. In fact, as soon as he heard the news, Rick Garmon developed a plan to kill the man who had so deeply wounded his daughter:

I pulled back from Julie and everybody else. Get up, go to work, think about the plan, try to forget, go home, try to go to sleep, dream the plan. I plotted to drive through the campus and use my Smith and Wesson .243 caliber, bolt-action rifle…. I'd sit in the parking lot as long as necessary until he walked by. Then I could get it out of my head, and Katie could start eating again.

Katie came home for the weekend two months after the truth came out. It tore me up to see her. She and I didn't talk much anymore. I missed watching the Atlanta Braves with her. I missed laughing with her. I just plain missed her….

Julie tried to tempt her with a great meal on Saturday. Sitting across from Katie, I kept my eyes on my food. It felt as though we lived in a funeral home. The only sounds were clanking of silverware and the clinking of ice. I couldn't take the phoniness. I slammed my chair to the table and took off to my room in the basement. I'd spent a lot of time down there in my getaway room of guns and the sports channel. Methodically, I started cleaning the rifle I'd use.

Then I heard [my son] Thomas trotting downstairs. "Whatcha doing, Dad?" I kept on cleaning and never looked at him. I rocked in my recliner with the gun across my lap.

"Can I help you clean?" I didn't say a word. "You going hunting?" I looked up at him, his eyes so brown they looked almost black, just like mine. He stood inches from my knees. His hair, cut to match a G. I. Joe flattop, just like mine. I kept my gaze on my son and moved the red rag around in circles.

Our eyes met. Thomas's eyes brimmed with tears. He knows. Dear, God. I think my son knows my plan.

I stopped polishing the gun and laid it on the floor by the chair. "Come here, boy. Give your daddy a hug." He wrapped his arms around me tight as a cobra. Thomas's love was somehow stronger than my hatred. His hug began to crumble my rage like a sledgehammer breaking a wall. Chip by chip.

Sweet Jesus, what have I been thinking? My job's not finished. Forgive me. Thomas isn't raised. If I go to jail, he won't have a father. God, help me.

Locking the gun in the cabinet, I made a choice to forgive. God, I gotta let go of this hate. It's killing me. The decision started in my head, not from any feeling. Swallowing back tears, Thomas and I walked upstairs together, my arm on his shoulder.

I came so close.

Rick Garmon, "My Secret Hate," Today's Christian (May/June 2006),

According to Pastor and author Frederick Buechner “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back; in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC [New York: Harper & Row, 1973]).[4]

What the Bible says about anger

 Psalm 37:8 “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;

do not fret—it leads only to evil. [5]

Ephesians 4:29-32

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. [6]

Colossians 3:5-10

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.b 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. [7]

Romans 12:18,19

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”b says the Lord.[8]

Conclusion

Big Idea: When you try and run with anger you no longer are walking in step with God.

Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.

—Harry Emerson Fosdick

On April 13, 2001, Luther Casteel walked into JB's Pub in Elgin, Illinois, with four guns and opened fire. He killed two people and wounded 16 others. At his trial, Casteel was unrepentant. According to the Chicago Tribune, when asked by his attorney if he felt any remorse, Casteel said, "Any feelings I have in that regard, I'll keep between myself and the Lord." He also said, "As ironic as this sounds, I'm a passionate, giving person. I like to think I'm a pretty good person. I'm not one to hurt anyone that doesn't provoke me."

While reading this, I thought to myself, Sure, we're all pretty good people as long as no one provokes us! Sin is somehow someone else's fault, or an uncharacteristic break with our "normal" character. But the Bible teaches us that no one is a "pretty good person." We are all sinners, and until we repent, we are hopeless.

Lee Eclov, Lake Forest, Illinois; source: Chicago Tribune (11-20-01)

Allow God to deal with our anger.


 

Ideas

  • We often judge others by their actions, but judge ourselves by our intentions.  With God we often expect him to judge us by our actions, but instead He judges us on our intentions. 
  • Well it’s not like I killed anybody.  
  •  

Scriptures

Commentary

The underlying and key message of these astonishingly authoritative words is that a person is held accountable for his or her angry thoughts, not merely for external acts of violence against others. Here, as in the beatitudes, the truly revolutionary character of the kingdom and its ethics makes itself felt.

It is a mistake to treat these stipulations casuistically and thus to fall into a new and harsh nomism. While they are meant to be taken seriously, calling attention to the relation between the root of a tree and its fruit (to use other Matthean metaphors), they, like the antitheses that follow, function more as exhortations to a life that perfectly reflects the reality of the kingdom. This teaching is not necessarily incompatible with the display of righteous anger by Jesus in Mark 3:5 (cf. Eph 4:26) or his calling the Pharisees “Fools” in 23:17 (where Matthew uses the same word as here).[9]

Illustrations

If you don’t change the heart the language change might not mean that much: On Saturday, July 9, 2007, thousands of people, including state and city officials, gathered in Detroit's Hart Plaza for a funeral. They all watched as a horse-drawn carriage made its way through the streets carrying a small pine casket adorned with a black wreath. The funeral, conducted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, wasn't for a person, though. It was for the racial slur commonly referred to as "the n-word."

The governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, spoke of the word's demise: "Good riddance to this vestige of slavery and racism, and say 'hello' to a new country that invests in all of its people."

Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit's mayor, said, "Good riddance! Die, n-word! We don't want to see you around here no more [sic]!" He went on to encourage black men to move away from disrespect of black women and themselves, saying, "You can't just bury the n-word. You have to bury all the nonsense that comes with it."

After its journey through the city, the coffin was ceremoniously placed in Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery.

Ted DeHass, Bedford, Iowa; source: Suzette Hackney, "Detroit funeral aims to bury racial slur," Detroit Free Press; used in USA Today (7-10-07)

Leonard Holt was a paragon of respectability. He was a middle-aged, hard-working lab technician who had worked at the same Pennsylvania paper mill for nineteen years. Having been a Boy Scout leader, an affectionate father, a member of the local fire brigade, and a regular church attender, he was admired as a model in his community. Until that image exploded in a well-planned hour of bloodshed one brisk October morning.

A proficient marksman, Leonard Holt stuffed two pistols in his coat pockets and drove to the mill. He stalked slowly into his shop and began shooting with calculated frenzy. He filled several co-workers with two or three bullets apiece, firing more than thirty shots, killing some men he had known for more than fifteen years. When the posse found him standing defiantly in his doorway, he snarled, “Come and get me, you_____. I’m not taking any more of your_____.” Bewilderment swept the community.

Puzzled policemen and friends finally found a train of logic behind his brief reign of terror. Down deep within the heart of Leonard Holt rumbled the giant of resentment. His monk-like exterior concealed the seething hatred within. The investigation yielded the following facts. Several victims had been promoted over him while he remained in the same position. More than one in Holt’s carpool had quit riding with him due to his reckless driving. The man was brimming with resentment—rage that could be held no longer. Beneath his picture in Time, the caption told the story: “Responsible, Respectable, and Resentful.”[10]

There are many different statistics out showing the effects for teen anger on everything from dating to school to home life. The following are some startling statistics on teen violence:

  • According to SafeYouth.com more than 1 in 3 high school students, both male and female, have been involved in a physical fight. 1 in 9 of those students have been injured badly enough to need medical treatment.
  • The 2002 National Gang Trends Survey (NGTS) stated that there are more than 24,500 different street gangs in the United States alone. More than 772,500 of the members of these gangs are teens and young adults.
  • The 2002 NGTS also showed that teens and young adults involved in gang activity are 60 times more likely to be killed than the rest of the American population.
  • A 2001 report released by the U.S. Department of Justice claims that 20 out of 1000 women ages 16 to 24 will experience a sexual assault while on a date. And that 68% of all rape victims know their attackers.
  • The U.S. Justice report also stated that 1 in 3 teens, both male and female, have experienced some sort of violent behavior from a dating partner.


Although all of the statistics focus on differing topics they all point to one frightening conclusion, teen anger and violence is now, and has been for several years, a problem in our society.

Angry Teens and Violence Warning Signs

The National Youth Violence Prevention Center has compiled the following list of warning signs that your teen may be having anger management issues:

  • Frequent loss of temper over small issues,
  • Frequent physical fighting with friends, acquaintances and family members,
  • Damaging property while in a fit of anger,
  • Use of drugs and/or alcohol,
  • Written plans for violent acts,
  • Carrying a weapon(s),
  • Been the victim of school bullies,
  • Gang affiliations,
  • Failure to acknowledge the feelings of others
  • Fascination with weapons and
  • Cruelty to animals.

Anger is "an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage," according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (Such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.

Expressing Anger

The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival.

On the other hand, we can't physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take us.

People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn't mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.

Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn't allowed outward expression, your anger can turn inward—on yourself. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven't learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren't likely to have many successful relationships.

Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.

As Dr. Spielberger notes, "when none of these three techniques work, that's when someone—or something—is going to get hurt."

Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, and in the right way—that is not easy.[11]

A boy once asked, “Dad, how do wars begin?”

“Well, take the First World War,” said his father. “That got started when Germany invaded Belgium.”

Immediately his wife interrupted him: “Tell the boy the truth. It began because somebody was murdered.” The husband drew himself up with an air of superiority and snapped back, “Are you answering the question, or am I.” Turning her back upon him in a huff, the wife walked out of the room and slammed the door as hard as she could.

When the dishes stopped rattling in the cupboard, an uneasy silence followed, broken at length by the son when he said, “Daddy, you don’t have to tell me any more; I know now.”[12]

•     Booker T. Washington once said, “I am determined to permit no man to narrow or degrade my soul by making me hate him.”[13]

3461 To Test A Missionary Candidate

At 3:00 A.M. one cold morning a missionary candidate walked into an office for a scheduled interview with the examiner of a mission board. He waited until 8:00 A.M. when the examiner arrived.

The examiner said, “Let us begin. First, please spell baker.”

“B-a-k-e-r,” the young man spelled.

“Very good. Now, let’s see what you know about figures. How much is twice two?”

“Four,” replied the applicant.

“Very good,” the examiner said. “I’ll recommend to the board tomorrow that you be appointed. You have passed the test.”

At the board meeting the examiner spoke highly of the applicant and said, “He has all the qualifications of a missionary. Let me explain.

“First, I tested him on self-denial. I told him to be at my house at three in the morning. He left a warm bed and came out in the cold without a word of complaint.

“Second, I tried him out on punctuality. He appeared on time.

“Third, I examined him on patience. I made him wait five hours to see me, after telling him to come at three.

“Fourth, I tested him on temper. He failed to show any sign of it; he didn’t even question my delay.

“Fifth, I tried his humility. I asked him questions that a small child could answer, and he showed no offense. He meets the requirements and will make the missionary we need.”

[14]

On December 9, 2007, Matthew Murray shot and killed Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, at a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) training center in the Denver suburb of Arvada. He later killed two at New Life Church in Colorado Springs…

Despite the deaths, YWAM is on track with its missions training program. Training for missions will begin once again in January, and not one of the 120 who signed up has dropped out of the program. Director of the Arvada YWAM Peter Warren spoke with Christianity Today about the shooting…

Matthew was in the building for half an hour talking with students, and then he asked to spend the night. Tiffany was called to the front because she handles hospitality. Normally, we would not have someone spend the night without knowing them or arranging ahead of time. After that, Matthew said, "Then this is what I've got for you," pulled out a gun and began shooting.

After firing a few shots, he had his foot in the door, and at some point his foot slipped and he fell back. The door slammed shut on him and automatically locked, so he could not get back in again. Right then, other staff and students were driving up and saw Matthew banging on the door, trying to get back in. When Matthew saw them, he ran away.

After [a] student performed CPR on Tiffany, she regained consciousness and asked [another trainee named] Holly, "Is it bad?" Holly said, "Yes, it's bad." Tiffany looked at Holly and her boyfriend, Dan, who was also shot, and said, "We do this for Jesus, right guys? We do this for Jesus."

Sarah Pulliam, "YWAM Director Describes Shooting, Forgiveness," www.christianitytoday.com

Peter Wood, in his book A Bee in the Mouth, writes that a sure sign of America's problem with anger is the tone of its politics. "For the first time in our political history, declaring absolute hatred for one's opponent has become a sign not of sad excess, but of good character."

Researchers from the University of Utah found there's a price to pay when couples don't get along. Videotapes recorded 150 husbands and wives discussing sensitive issues (how money is managed or doing household chores) and found the following:

Women who buried anger rather than speaking out were more likely to succumb to heart disease than wives who were vocal, the study found. And when women became domineering and controlling, rather than seeking consensus, damage was done to husbands' coronary health.

Researcher Timothy W. Smith understood that there will be disagreements in a marriage, but how you handle yourself in resolving disagreements is important. "Can you do it in a way that gets your concerns addressed but without doing damage at the same time? That's not an easy mark to hit."

A British research project yielded remarkably similar results:

After a twelve-year study of British civil servants, most of whom were married, English researchers concluded that those with hostile intimate relationships were 34 percent more likely to experience chest pains, heart attacks, and other heart trouble.

Even after typical contributing factors such as obesity, smoking, and drinking were eliminated from the equation, those in troubled relationships were still at 23 percent greater risk for a heart attack.

"If you have good people around, it's good for your health," said lead researcher Roberto De Vogli. "If you have bad people around you, it is much worse for your health."

If you don’t change the heart the language change might not mean that much: On Saturday, July 9, 2007, thousands of people, including state and city officials, gathered in Detroit's Hart Plaza for a funeral. They all watched as a horse-drawn carriage made its way through the streets carrying a small pine casket adorned with a black wreath. The funeral, conducted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, wasn't for a person, though. It was for the racial slur commonly referred to as "the n-word."

The governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, spoke of the word's demise: "Good riddance to this vestige of slavery and racism, and say 'hello' to a new country that invests in all of its people."

Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit's mayor, said, "Good riddance! Die, n-word! We don't want to see you around here no more [sic]!" He went on to encourage black men to move away from disrespect of black women and themselves, saying, "You can't just bury the n-word. You have to bury all the nonsense that comes with it."

After its journey through the city, the coffin was ceremoniously placed in Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery.

Ted DeHass, Bedford, Iowa; source: Suzette Hackney, "Detroit funeral aims to bury racial slur," Detroit Free Press; used in USA Today (7-10-07)

On June 1, 2007, minor league Mississippi Braves baseball manager Phillip Wellman threw a major league tantrum that earned him the national spotlight, if only for a moment.

During a losing game against the Chattanooga Lookouts, Wellman was infuriated over a call made by the home plate umpire. Wellman charged out of the dugout, stood nose-to-nose with the umpire, and began screaming. He then framed his hands just outside the umpire's face and shook them emphatically as he blustered all the more.

Wellman then stormed toward home plate. He knelt on one knee, covered the plate with dirt, and then retraced home plate with his finger, this time about a yard wide.

Then, after a brief altercation with the third base umpire, Wellman stole third base—literally. He pulled the bag out of the ground, sauntered toward second base, and hurled it discus-style out of the infield.

But it's what happened next that got people talking. Walking back toward the pitcher's mound from second base, Wellman dropped to the ground and belly-crawled toward the mound, picked up the rosin bag, and, after pulling an imaginary pin with his teeth, lobbed it like a grenade at the home plate umpire.

Then, he headed for the outfield. On his way, Wellman uprooted second base, picked up the discarded third base, and took them with him.

Just before he left the field via the outfield wall, Wellman blew a kiss to the cheering crowd.

Wellman's temper earned him global recognition—and a three-game suspension.

The response from fans was mixed. While some appreciated Wellman's theatrics as all in good fun, others were embarrassed by the example such behavior modeled for young fans.

On April 13, 2001, Luther Casteel walked into JB's Pub in Elgin, Illinois, with four guns and opened fire. He killed two people and wounded 16 others. At his trial, Casteel was unrepentant. According to the Chicago Tribune, when asked by his attorney if he felt any remorse, Casteel said, "Any feelings I have in that regard, I'll keep between myself and the Lord." He also said, "As ironic as this sounds, I'm a passionate, giving person. I like to think I'm a pretty good person. I'm not one to hurt anyone that doesn't provoke me."

While reading this, I thought to myself, Sure, we're all pretty good people as long as no one provokes us! Sin is somehow someone else's fault, or an uncharacteristic break with our "normal" character. But the Bible teaches us that no one is a "pretty good person." We are all sinners, and until we repent, we are hopeless.

Lee Eclov, Lake Forest, Illinois; source: Chicago Tribune (11-20-01)

In Preaching Today, author and speaker Tony Campolo tells this story:

I was in a church in Oregon not too long ago, and I prayed for a man who had cancer. In the middle of the week, I got a telephone call from his wife. She said, "You prayed for my husband. He had cancer." I said, "Had?" Whoa, I thought, it's happened.

She said, "He died." I felt terrible.

She continued, "Don't feel bad. When he came into that church that Sunday he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God. He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up. He was angry that this all-powerful God didn't take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew towards God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence. After you prayed for him, a peace had come over him and a joy had come into him. Tony, the last three days have been the best days of our lives. We've sung. We've laughed. We've read Scripture. We prayed. Oh, they've been wonderful days. And I called to thank you for laying your hands on him and praying for healing.

And then she said something incredibly profound. She said, "He wasn't cured, but he was healed."

Tony Campolo, "Year of Jubilee," Preaching Today

Hurling humor like hand grenades is a popular sport. We think it's acceptable to pull the pin on our anger as long as we toss it in a casing of humor. The problem is it's still explosive, and someone ends up hurt.

How many times have you heard or said, "I was only kidding?" If we have to defend our humor regularly, chances are we're not as funny as we think.

A good humor rule is, if it hurts someone it isn't funny. Just because people are laughing doesn't mean what we said was appropriate.

Don't use humor as a hideout from tender, honest relationships. A healthy sense of humor is a precious gift intended to promote good news, good health and goodwill.

Patsy Clairmont, adapted from Under His Wings.


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[1]Green, Michael P.: Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively. Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1989

[2]Green, Michael P.: Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively. Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1989

[3]Green, Michael P.: Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively. Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1989

[4]Green, Michael P.: Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively. Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1989

[5] The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Ps 37:8

[6] The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Eph 4:29-32

b Some early manuscripts coming on those who are disobedient

[7] The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Col 3:5-10

b Deut. 32:35

[8] The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Ro 12:18-19

cf. confer, compare

[9]Hagner, Donald A.: Word Biblical Commentary : Matthew 1-13. Dallas : Word, Incorporated, 2002 (Word Biblical Commentary 33A), S. 118

[10]Green, Michael P.: Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively. Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1989

[11]Green, Michael P.: Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively. Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1989

[12]Green, Michael P.: Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively. Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1989

[13]Tan, Paul Lee: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1996, c1979

[14]Tan, Paul Lee: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1996, c1979

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