(Eric will return with his sermons next week)
by Joseph Rodgers
Two men are talking about anger one night. One said, “I’ll show you the difference. At 1 am, he goes to the phone and dials a number. He asked, “Is Jones there?” The man says “No!” The men continue until the same guy says, “Now I’ll show you frustration.” At 2 am, he goes to the phone and dials the same number. The man picks up, “What?” The guy asks, “Is Jones there?” Frustrated, he says “NO!” Then at 3 am, the guy says now I’ll show you rage. He returns to the phone and dials the number a 3rd time and says, “Hey I’m Jones. Have I gotten any calls tonight?
People do the craziest things when they lose their tempers. Have you ever seen a toddler throw a temper tantrum? They scream and yell and hurl their bodies to the ground with their stubby little arms and legs flailing in all directions.
How about a teenager who loses his cool? In high school I watched as a friend got so mad he put his fist through a wall destroying his chance at a scholarship.
Have you ever seen a young mother of preschoolers lose her cool? It’s not a pretty sight when pots and pans are slammed, toys are thrown, and the kids are being screamed at for doing things that little children do.
Or how about the man driving to work who gets cut off and in a fit of rage slams his fist, shouts a few expletives, and then attempts to hunt down the culprit with every intent to give them a piece of his mind – if not more.
I was tested this weekend when my family went to the mall shopping. While Meg was trying on clothes, I was attempting to corral the kids. Now mind you it wasn’t their fault. It was after bedtime and they were just being kids, yet I was about to lose my mind – especially when they tipped over a rack of clothes. Listen, I understood irritation and frustration, and had it not been for the accountability of 25 women shopping, I might have experienced rage.
Anger – we all struggle to manage it and keep it under control, and yet, we all feel as if it is a right and privilege to express it as we wish without consequence. But it has become an infectious disease that is everywhere – in our homes, our cars, on freeways, at sporting events, at work, and even at church. It’s so bad that some social commentators have said we live in the “Age of Rage.”
What is it? Anger is a legitimate emotion often expressed illegitimately. Instead of serving as a warning light that something isn’t right (like warning lights on car dash) it usually becomes an action resulting in sin because we seek to bring harm to another.
Of the 7 deadly sins, anger is 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 the last toothsome morsel of the pain you’re given and the pain you’re giving back – in many ways it’s a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is what you’re wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
How can I know if I have an anger problem? When you get angry do you hurt yourself? Do you hurt others? Do you damage property?
Did you know the Bible speaks of the perils of anger 262 times in 256 verses. It says anger is an emotion we must learn how to control or else it’ll control us.
If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day. Do not give the devil a chance. Eph. 4:26 (GNB)
Angry as an emotion isn’t sin, but it can lead to sin if it is not controlled.
Anger unresolved gives the devil access to your life.
It’s not – how can I be good and mad, but how can I be good when mad?
Our example of course is Jesus. On more than one occasion He got angry, yet He never allowed His anger to become sin. (read Mk. 11:12-18)
Jesus had every right to be angry, but he didn’t take it personally and He never allowed it to control Him. Yes there was injustice and a reason to retaliate, but Jesus never took matters in His own hands – instead of fuming He forgave.
The ROOT of Anger
Anger is a secondary emotion requiring an emotional trigger – we aren’t born angry something has to happen to ignite it. Anger a choice we make and a habit we break.
When people are anxious about something it tends to put them on edge. They allow worry and fear to overtake them and send them over the side into anger.
Anxiety reveals what we think and understand about God. He promises to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Ph. 4:19) and to never leave us or forsake us (Hb. 13:5). Thus we have nothing to fret over.
Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. The peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus. Ph. 4:6-8
Anxiety should not trigger anger – it should trigger trust.
This is when things don’t go as planned. We get flustered and frustrated – flustrated – instead of adjusting we explode. It doesn’t matter if it is a work issue, a spouse issue, or a kid issue – frustration gets the best of us and we feel compelled to yell.
Pastor who traded his bike with a frustrated boy with a lawnmower. The pastor caught up with the boy few days later dissatisfied because the lawnmower wouldn’t crank. The boy told the pastor that he had to cuss at it. The pastor said, I’m a pastor – I don’t cuss, besides I haven’t said a cuss words in years. The boy responded, “Pull on that handle a few times and it will come back to you.”
Of all of the triggers, this one might be the most pervasive.
Insert: Psychiatrists call this problem LFT – Low Frustration Tolerance. It claims that most people are walking time bombs just waiting to explode because they’ve allowed circumstances, situations, and people to crowd out their ability to tolerate frustration. Thus they’re living on the edge just waiting to erupt.
This is when people experience pain. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical, emotional, or social, we’d rather be angry at someone/thing than be in pain. (Grief Process)
No one enjoys being made fun of or being laughed at. No one enjoys being made a fool or the butt of a joke. No matter how much we laugh at the silly things we might do, we don’t enjoy having other people laugh at our expense. Thus, while we might be laughing on the outside, we’re seething on the inside.
Resentment is pent up animosity we have towards others because of something they said or did against us that resulted in loss. The trigger is simple – someone harms me and I’ll get them back. It invokes the idea, “Do unto other before they do unto you.”
No matter the trigger we all must recognize that we own our anger whether we like it or not. No matter how much we rationalize it, it’s real and it’s ours.
The REALITY of ANGER
Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, and cool your pipes – it only makes things worse. Ps. 37:8 (MSG)
In other words, losing your cool seldom makes things better – it’s fruitless.
Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame! Ben Franklin
Everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Human anger does not achieve God’s righteous purpose. Jm. 1:19-20
Unless a person learns to manage their anger correctly they only suffer loss as a result of losing their cool. Why? Because most people only know how to handle their hostility through inappropriate channels.
The TOXIC WASTE Approach
Toxic waste people bury anger deep w/in presenting A-OK outward appearance. Problem is that over the years it begins to leak out and contaminate.
The VOLCANO Approach
Volcano people talk and rumble for years but finally get to the point where they say, “I’m not going to take this anymore,” and they EXPLODE.
The SNOCONE Approach
Snocone people go silent and put on the Big Chill. They put you on ice.
The MICROWAVE Approach
Microwave people confront the situation that bothers them with an instantaneous response. You hear: beep, beep, beep and BAM!!!
In Forrest Gump, there is a scene where Jenny returns to her home after her abusive father has died. The farm is dilapidated and abandoned, but as she reflects on the abuse she endured as a child, she’s overcome with rage and begins to violently throw rocks at the house only to fall to the ground in exhaustion. As the scene closes Forrest says, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”
Mishandled anger is futile and we have to learn to manage it or it’ll manage us.
A patient man has great insight, but a quick tempered man displays folly. Pr. 14:29
A quick tempered man does foolish things. Pr. 14:17
Annually in the U.S. 14 men are killed by vending machines. After not receiving a drink or due change, these men shook the machines until they tipped over and crushed them to death. Each man became the victim of his own anger.
Anger defines a fool as it demonstrates who is really in control of me.
But now you must get rid of all these things: anger, rage, malice and filthy language from your lips. Col. 3:8 (see Eph. 4:31)
Don’t nurse it, rehearse it, or disburse it – but curse it – get rid of it.
Rid yourselves (apotithemi) to put to the side; to change one’s clothes.
Just as a person takes off his dirty clothes at the end of the day, so is a Christian to discard the filthy rags of their old life once they’ve placed their faith in Christ.
Thumos wrath; sudden outburst of combative anger.
People who fly into rage seldom make a safe landing. Will Rogers
Three things occur when you fly off the handle:
• You say and do foolish things you will regret later
• You do things that cause problems for others
You do things that have a hefty penalty
Orge an angry indignant temperament or mood
Paul is talking about people with a negative and sour disposition – people who look like they’ve been weaned on pickle juice or like they’ve got a lemon IV.
Bumper Sticker – I have an attitude and I know how to use it.
We are to GET RID of them. Anger is to be abandoned by believers. Why? Because when anger is taken personally and acted upon it becomes sin. Why? Because when you’re angry you’re no longer under God’s control but under the control of the flesh – and that is sin.
The REMEDY of Anger
Commit to CONTROL Anger
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Pr. 29:11
Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. Pr. 16:32
Sometimes it takes more strength and courage to control our emotions than it does to capture a fortified city.
ADMIT your tendency to take anger personally
CONFESS your need for accountability
TARGET the situation and not the person.
Consider the CONSEQUENCES
Will expressing my anger resolve the issue or make matters worse?
Anger Fosters Disagreement and Disunity
An angry man stirs up dissension, a hot tempered man commits many sins. Pr. 29:22
Anger Leaves You Vulnerable to Attack
If you can’t control your anger, you are as helpless as a city without walls, open to attack. Pr. 25:28 (GNB)
Anger Invites Trouble
If you churn milk, you get butter. If you hit someone’s nose, it bleeds. If you stir up anger, you get into trouble. Pr. 30:33 (GNB)
Whenever you lose your temper – YOU LOSE! So consider the consequences.
Correctly COMMUNICATE Anger
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Pr. 15:1
What we say in the heat of the moment can either extinguish or ignite a situation. Our words can be either a bucket of water or a can of gas.
Think Before You Speak (Measure your words carefully)
He who guards his lips guards his life, but the man who speaks rashly will come to ruin. Pr. 13:3
Never Speak Out In Anger
A hot tempered man stirs up dissension but a patient man calms a quarrel. Pr. 15:18
CHOOSE Quality Company
Do not make friends with a hot tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. Pr. 22:24
Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger; if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse. Pr. 19:19 (MSG)
If you hang with angry people you’ll become an angry person. It is contagious.
Bad company corrupts good morals. 1 Cr. 15:33
Don’t hang out with people who don’t want to hang out with God and with goodness.
Anger is indeed a troublesome emotion. It is an equal opportunity destroyer. It doesn’t distinguish between gender or race or issue – it only invites us to lose control of our faculties to indulge in the perceived gratification of a lost temper. Yet in the end, it leaves us separated from our friends, colleagues, and family, holding the hatchet of guilt that has been buried in someone else’s back. Truthfully, the time has come for us to learn how to be good when mad – and it begins at the cross where Jesus gave His life for us.