ˇ°WHEN I AM ANGRYˇ± By Pastor YAU
Text: James 1:19-25; Ephesians 4:26-27 February 16, 2014
1) The phenomena of anger: One of the most famous presidents of the United States, Thomas Jefferson wrote many books. One of them is more popular than others, and the title is Rules of living. Among all the words of wisdom is about controlling anger. He wrote: ˇ°When you are angry, count ten before you speak. If you are really angry, count a hundred.ˇ± We all are familiar with anger since we were babies. We see babies are so angry they cry until they look like choked to death but still screaming. We see adult get so angry, their faces turn red, the blood veins enlarged on their necks and forehead we are afraid they may have a stroke. We all are both predators and victims of anger and we suffer serious consequences from that.
2) The definition of anger: Anger is an emotional force of hostility toward people or situation that brings personal displeasure both on ourselves and others. Some people are more capable of controlling anger. These people are good in hiding anger on the inside, not to show it on the outside. Basically this is what Chinese philosophers taught us to do. Unfortunately, both my pastor friends who were good in hiding anger on the inside died of stroke. We see people get so angry they will kill others to stop their anger. The arts of controlling anger is very important not just for presidents but for all of us.
WHY DO PEOPLE GET SO ANGRY? Just list a few examples.
1) There are so many wrongs: Some people get angry on all the wrongs in this world: wrong people do wrong things. These include drivers of cars next to you when you get to work; teachers and classmates in school are ridiculous; some of your colleagues and your boss at work, your neighbors, friends and those in the church, etc. They don't follow the rules, they didn't do their duty, they are dishonest. How can I not get angry seeing all these? Suppose you are all right about them, what can you do about it besides getting angry? Isn't it true the world has been like this since day one? (Genesis 6:5) Can your getting angry make things better? If not, then why?
2) Someone needs to make it right: This is not about self righteous, it is about personal responsibility to the society: we all have the duty to make wrongs right. This is true to parents, they do have the duty to correct the wrongs of their children. So is true with teachers, the police and government. But for you and me to get so upset, even angry, trying to right all the wrongs in the society can only get things out of hand. Even if you are not the vigilantes, who do you think you are and who gives you the right to correct others?
3) Jealous of injustice on wrong doers: The best example is the anger of the older son in the Prodigal Son story. While the younger son and what he did deserved punishment, but he instead was forgiven and received lavish treatment the older son never had. On the other hand, we see Cain was outraged against his righteous brother Abel because his sacrifice wasn't accepted by God. In both cases, jealousy of others when we feel injustice can cause us to get angry, hope not to the point of murdering as Cain did.
4) Things didn't go as we see fit: There are people who can't accept the fact that there is another way to get things done except their way. This happens in family, at work, among friends and sometimes in the church. Many marriages were broken, friendship were destroyed, churches were divided and fell apart. Jonah, the rebellious prophet is a typical example of this kind of people: My way or highway. Jonah was so angry the he was ready to die for things didn't go his way.
5) Other secondary reasons of anger: There are other reasons people get angry: Some get angry to push away their responsibility; others use anger to threaten people. Some use anger to get attention otherwise they won't get; still others get angry to cover their wrongs or forcing others to admit wrong they didn't do. Some may use anger as a means for revenge of old issues they lost in the past. Anger can be a powerful weapon to inflict pain on others.
BIBLICAL TEACHING ON ANGER: (Ephesians 4:26-27; James 1:19-20)
1) Point to the fact, not to condone: ˇ°In your anger, do not sin.ˇ± (4:26, NIV) ˇ°Be ye angry.ˇ± (KJV) ˇ°If you are angry.ˇ± (NEB) ˇ°When you are angry.ˇ± (Amp) From these popular translations of this verse, the Bible points out the fact of anger, but never condones anger, particularly prohibits commit sin in anger. The Bible records many human sins, failures for divine purposes, but not to condone those sins, much less to encourage sins. God knows how easy anger could become the force to sin, so, the warning is given for the readers to curb the force of anger.
2) Do not hold your anger too long: ˇ°Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.ˇ± (4:26b) This is about letting go of anger as soon as you can, not to hold anger in your heart more than the day is over. This is a very important issue because most people will hold anger against other not just over night, but over weeks, months, years or forever. Holding anger too long can only energize the force of anger and possibly leading to worse scenario. So many people never let go of anger against someone after years had passed. The more they think the worse the anger becomes. The Bible wants us to let go of anger before the night is come.
3) Beware what the devil can do: ˇ°Do not give the devil a foothold.ˇ± (4:27) A foothold is a space allowed to be taken. Satan, the devil, is so good in taking a foothold is us when we are angry to manipulate our mind and thought to do something worse than we first thought. Some Christians don't understand the scheme of the devil and its power in us when we lost our control of emotion. We should allow God and the Holy Spirit to take control of our mind and our hearts. Never give the devil an inch of chance when we are angry.
4) Anger never works any good: ˇ°For man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.ˇ± (James 1:20) Some may use the example of Jesus whipping the merchants in the temple court as their excuse of getting angry. Two points we need to understand this: a) Jesus didn't get angry for any personal reason but we usually get angry for personal reasons. b) Jesus is God, he won't make any mistakes but we are human and we always make mistakes in anger. How often we see our anger bring about anything good for anyone? How much human anger causes many tragedies and sufferings in people. So, don't get smart that you are doing the right thing by getting angry.
SUGGESTED STEPS TO CONTROL ANGER:
1) Getting angry is a choice: ˇ°Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control.ˇ± (Proverbs 25:28) This is a very important starting point: getting angry is our choice: We can control if we will get angry. Some may argue that they were born to have hot temper and they have no control of it. That is only an excuse, not a fact. We all were born with many human natural tendency, that doesn't mean we can do or follow all those defects to ruin lives: ours and others. Exercising self control of anger is a virtue we all need to learn and to master.
2) Getting angry is a fool: ˇ°a patient man has great understand, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.ˇ± (Prov 14:29) We all need to know anger can only make things worse, it never get anything better. No one can change any one or anything with anger. It can only hurt both side, or hurts yourself if you hold your anger on the inside. So be wise to control anger before it is too late.
3) You may not on the right side: ˇ°All a man's way seems right to him, but motives are weighted by the Lord.ˇ± (Prov 16:2) Usually we will think we are on the right side, so we have the right to be angry. The fact is: You may not be on the right side, so you may not have the right to get angry. Everyone has his right to choose the way to live or do things as he pleases, even if you do not agree or don't like. Even if he chooses to do wrong, it still is his right to do so. We are not deputized t be ˇ°police or judgeˇ± over anyone. God is the only righteous judge.
4) Delay your expression of anger: ˇ°A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.ˇ± (Prov 12:16) Remember what President said in his book about expressing anger: ˇ°When you are angry, count ten before you speak. When you are really angry, count a hundred.ˇ± By taking time to listen, to think it over, to deliberate in your mind or to find out all the facts, then you are in a better position to express your opinion, or anger. Think how anger can do to hurt you, the other side, your relationship with the other side, what is more important to your life. Tale time to calm down, then you may have a clearer mind to make a decision if you want to get angry. It is never to late to get angry but usually it is too quick to mess up life with anger.
5) To forgive is always a better way: ˇ°A man's wisdom give him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.ˇ± (Prov 19:11) Man may see to forgive an offense is a sign of being weak, but God sees it as a sign of wisdom. James encouraged us to bring back a sinner in 5:20, ˇ°Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sin.ˇ± Paul says, ˇ°Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.ˇ± (1 Corinthians 13:5)
APPLICATION OF TRUTH:
1) Be wise, not a fool: Both the Bible and practical life experience agree that getting angry easily is not a wise choice of life. Usually anger comes in pair with pride. It is never a wise thing to think you are always on the right side and you have the right to be angry when you think others are wrong. There are better ways to handle conflicts between people other than getting angry.
2) Think before explode: Think of the consequences of your anger, think if you are wrong to get angry, think if they have reasons to do what they do you don't know, think of the motive of your anger if it is pure or prideful or selfish? Remember this: you always have the opportunity to express your opinion in words or actions, but you won't have the opportunity to retract words or actions once you expressed them in anger.