Human Anger (One Letter From Danger)
This post we’ll look at human anger…next post, God-willing,
we’ll look at God’s anger.
Not all anger is bad…more about that next post.
But our anger is often unrighteous:
We get mad because we don’t get our way…
- like when I work hard all day & want to read a book
for an hour before sleep. I get interrupted &
am quicker to get angry than if that interruption
had happened earlier in the day
when I wasn’t planning on doing something specific.
When we don’t get a response—
- a waiter/waitress/customer service isn’t responding
so you use an angry tone,
- a child hasn’t listened to your 10 requests
to take out the garbage, so you do it in a huff of anger and/or
“let them have it” verbally on your 11th request.
We get mad because we have not dealt with
previous situations & emotions.
If we aren’t working on true forgiveness,
we let past emotions build & eventually one person/situation
gets the full vent of our anger that has built up
over a week, month, year.
- Clog the exhaust pipes in a car it breaks down;
- toxins produced by fuel have nowhere to release:
- engine becomes sluggish with little power
for climbing hills or accelerating,
- carbon monoxide can fill the cabin & kill the passengers,
- muffler can explode.
- Same w/us when we don’t Biblically process
the pressure & anger of life.
We get mad & direct our anger at a person instead of at sin.
Someone believes something truly horrific/nasty &
we unleash our anger on them instead of at the thing they believe.
We attack the person.
- Imagine a doctor trying to kill a person for having a disease
instead of trying to kill the disease.
That’s often what we do with people who disagree with us.
We channel/pour our anger on them, the person.
We often think well of ourselves for doing this,
especially if what they believe/do is truly terrible.
But we’re simply playing into the devil’s hand,
just as the evil emperor was trying to get Luke
to channel his hate of the dark side into killing Darth Vader.
Luke was right to hate evil & the principals/philosophies
that fueled the empire, but not to use that hate
to kill the surrendered Vader himself.
This would “complete Luke’s training”
& make him part of the dark side, what he hated.
Or to deal with our anger, we simply avoid/ignore the people
who do things that anger us. We think this is good,
or at least better than venting our anger at them,
but we never actually move to true Biblical forgiveness/maturity,
we don’t have the fruit of the Holy Spirit grow in our lives
when we constantly avoid the heat & fertilizer used to help us grow.
Toward the middle & end of our lives we find
our circle of friends shrinking and shrinking,
consisting not of people through whom we have worked out past issues,
but simply of those who haven’t hurt us…yet
(or who we’ve never gotten close enough to allow them to hurt us).
2 Samuel 12:5-7a: “David burned with anger against the man
and said to Nathan,
“As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!
6 He must pay for that lamb four times over,
because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”
David’s burning anger blinded him in two ways:
- He didn’t realize/understand his own sin,
that the parable was about him.
Nathan responds with some of the most
haunting words in the Bible, “YOU are that man!”
- David wanted a harsher penalty for the man
than the Law required (Exodus 22:12; Leviticus 6:1-7).
Steps To Dealing With Our Anger
- Take It To The LORD Immediately
Ephesians 4:26-27, 30-31: “In your anger do not sin”:
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
27and do not give the devil a foothold…
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.”
Go to Him in prayer & beg Him to override your desire
to stew in your anger/get revenge/cut the person out of your life.
You can’t handle anger alone, at best you’ll only treat the symptoms.
Go to Him immediately for help in forgiving, calming,
thinking kind thoughts of the person.
To sweep anger under the rug/distract yourself is like putting on a shirt
to cover a gaping gash in your chest; as long as the wound stays open
it will attract deadly bacteria/infections.
Our anger must be soothed with the balm of Christ in prayer;
go to the Great Physician of your soul—asap.
Anger doesn’t go away on its own any more than cancer;
it simply metastasizes & spreads, lays dormant, then strikes later.
We must actively get rid of it by actively going to our King.
2. Listen, Limit, Lose & Learn
James 1:19-21:“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak
and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger
does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth
and the evil that is so prevalent
and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
Listen: What is the other person really saying?
Is their meaning getting lost in translation?
Listen to understand, not just to respond.
Do you understand their point, or just your perception of their point?
Limit (your words): Do you need to respond right now (or ever?),
esp. if what they said/posted/typed causes anger in you?
Christ often kept silent when they hurled insults/false accusations
against Him, praying instead for the Father to forgive them.
Lose (moral filth). The more junk food we eat, the more irritable/anxious
we become; we weren’t meant to run on that fuel.
Same with spiritual junk food…moral filth stunts
the Holy Spirit growing fruit in us, sin causes us to be
quick to speak, quick to become angry, slow to listen.
- What do you watch, listen to, read?
- What do you fill your mind/heart with?
- It affects your anger.
Learn & Live the Bible. Instead, fill your mind/heart with God’s Word.
Humbly accept what it teaches, do what it says
& let it change you not you change it.
Don’t twist it to suit you,
humbly accept it & let it unravel you…
3. Psalm 37:1-9: “Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Remember that God is ultimately in control over
whatever you are angry at,
even if you are righteously angry at something sinful/evil.
Trust Him so you can do good instead of being
sidelined/stalled by your anger.
Keep following Christ—
do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God,
live out His big-picture mission for your life—
instead of only focusing on what you are angry about.
Trust that He will bring good out of it eventually,
in this life or the next, but keep doing good.
Sometimes our anger is a cramp that we need to run through…
4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Anger can almost become a treasure, a pet we nurture.
There can be a perverse/twisted pleasure we get
from being angry at someone.
Instead, seek the LORD as your treasure;
delight in Him & we will delight less & less in anger,
it will be a bitter taste we spit out instead of drink in.
5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
Though you may have unfulfilled dreams,
though you may not want to be where you are,
don’t stew in that anger—commit your way to the Lord,
the way He leads you (not how you’d lead yourself).
He’s in control, He won’t waste your life, He won’t waste your trials.
“All shall work together for good;
everything is needful that He sends;
nothing can be needful that He withholds.” John Newton
“We worry because we fear that God won’t get it right;
we get angry because we fear God got it wrong” Tim Keller.
He will get it—our lives—right…no matter what happens.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Sometimes our anger is a cramp we need to run through,
but not in the sense that we ignore our anger/our painful situations.
It’s a both/and—we also need to learn to simply be still before the Lord,
be still and know that He is God,
just gaze at Christ Who took God’s holy wrath in our place,
stare at Him Who is near the broken-hearted
and attentive to our cries, even our cries of anger.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
Unrighteous anger must be turned away from,
it won’t just evaporate on its own.
We turn from it and we turn toward the LORD
as shown in verses 1—7 above.
4. Don’t Keep A Record Of Wrongs
1 Corinthians 13:5: “[Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
If we’re making the list & checking it twice,
we’ll be the ones who’re naughty not nice.
But it’s not enough just to not be easily angered;
you can refrain from doing evil to someone
but still never actually do good to them, to actually love them.
We need to learn to truly respond to & serve
those who anger us with sacrificial compassion.
How? See final point:
5. Remember Our Former Debt To God
When We’re Angry Over Others Current Debt To Us
Luke7:40-47: “Jesus answered him,“Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender.
One owed him 500 denarii (about two years’ wages),
and the other 50 (about two months’ wages).
42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back,
so he forgave the debts of both.
Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon,
“Do you see this woman? I came into your house.
You did not give me any water for my feet,
but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered,
has not stopped kissing my feet. 4
6 You did not put oil on my head,
but she has poured perfume on my feet.
47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—
as her great love has shown.
But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Realizing how much Christ has forgiven us
leads us to greatly love those who anger us.
Opposite also true.
Little realization of our forgiven-debt to God
leads to little love & leads to much anger.
Do we understand the awfulness of our “many sins”?
Are we amazed at His awesome grace?
He freed/pardoned us from spiritual DeathRow,
forgave us of cosmic treason against the Father,
not a $100 parking ticket.
- A belly full of veggies leaves less room for junk food.
- A heart full of love for Christ leaves less room
for anger for others.
Jonah3:8-10, 4:1: “Let everyone call urgently on God.
Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.
God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger
so that we will not perish.
10 When God saw what they did
and how they turned from their evil ways,
he relented and did not bring on them
the destruction he had threatened.
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.
Jonah was recently forgiven by the LORD
& released from the whale!
But he forgot…
Having others receive Christ’s free gift of forgiveness
doesn’t lessen the value of His forgiveness for us.
Our joy is increased, not decreased, as more are saved!
It’s not as if new Christians bump us off the Olympic pedastal;
we were never on it to begin with!
New Christians add to the crowd of worshipers
praising Christ, not us! The more the merrier!
What’s more electrifying: a few people in an empty stadium
high-fiving us for not doing “that”, or
multitudes filling the stadium with voices like rushing waters
praising Him for going through the cross for us!?
Luke 15:28:“The older brother became angry and refused to go in.
So his father went out and pleaded with him.”
Older brother didn’t realize that while his specific sins
were different from his younger brother, the root & result of his sins
were the same (if not repented of & forgiven):
separation/alienation from the Father.
Older brother could also have had the Father’s grace.
Realizing his own sinfulness would open the door of his heart
to his Father’s grace & close his heart to anger for his brother;
Opposite is also true:
Not realizing his sinfulness closed the door of his heart
to his need for his Father’s grace &
opened his heart to anger for his brother.
Matthew 18:32-33: “‘You wicked servant,’ he said,
‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant
just as I had on you?”
Extra passages on anger:
Ecclesiastes 7:8-9: “The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
Proverbs 29:11:“Fools give full vent to their rage,
but the wise bring calm in the end.”
Proverbs 29:22:“An angry person stirs up conflict,
and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.”
Proverbs 15:1:“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 30:33:“For as churning cream produces butter,
and as twisting the nose produces blood,
so stirring up anger produces strife.”
1 Timothy 2:8:“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray,
lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.”
Colossians 3:7-8:“You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these:
anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
Proverbs 22:24-25: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”
Matthew 5:9, 21-24: “Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God…
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago,
‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders
will be subject to judgment.’
22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister
will be subject to judgment.
Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’
is answerable to the court.
And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar
and there remember that your brother or sister
has something against you,
24 leave your gift there in front of the altar.
First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”