Dealing With Anger
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR: PART VIDEALING WITH ANGER
A. Introduction: God wants us to love others as He loves us. John 13:34,35
1. This love gives up the right to get even or get revenge. It forgives all for everything. It treats people not as they deserve, but as we want to be treated and as God has treated us.
a. This love is not a feeling. It is an action based on a decision you make about how you are going to treat someone.
b. As branches of the Vine, as new creatures, the potential is there for us to love like this. Rom 5:5; John 15:5; Gal 5:22
2. Loving like this would be easy if we lived on a desert island.
a. But, we must interact with people who say and do things we don't like.
b. And, we are asked to love the unlovable and love the lovable when they are not lovable -- those same people who do and say things we don't like!
3. Interaction with people produces two main negative reactions in us when things don't go as we wish = hurt and anger.
a. When we are hurt or angry, our human nature wants to retaliate and get revenge -- both of which God tells us not to do. Matt 5:39-44
b. Revenge, retaliation = anything we do (from minor to major) to hurt someone or pay someone back because we hurt.
c. In this lesson, we want to talk about anger and how to deal with it in such a way that we do not sin by stepping out of love.
B. Let's begin with some general comments about anger.
1. Anger is a basic human emotion, a natural response in certain situations.
a. Now that we are Christians, all of our emotions, including anger, are to be brought under the control of the word of God and our recreated spirits.
b. That means we must not allow anger to drive us to do anything that is contrary to God's word -- like retaliate or get revenge.
2. Anger is a general term for an instant emotional reaction of displeasure.
a. Anger has varying degrees of intensity ranging from minor to major.
b. Annoyance, impatience = mild form of anger; rage = major form of anger.
3. Anger per se is not a sin. The Bible records accounts of the anger of God the Father and God the Son.
a. Theirs is a righteous, holy anger against sin, but ours leads to sin.
b. James 1:20--Man's wrath results in sin, but God's wrath deals with sin.
4. Eph 4:26 tells us to be angry and sin not, suggesting there are situations which stimulate anger, but that that anger doesn't have to end in sin.
a. How do you know if your anger led you to sin? Did you step out of love?
b. Our only commandment regarding other people is that we love them as we love ourselves -- this fulfills all the Law. Matt 22:37-40; Rom 13:8-10
c. Would you want said or done to you what you just did or said to that person in your anger?
5. We get angry (from annoyed to enraged) when things don't do the way we want or think and when people don't do what we want or think.
a. This isn't necessarily bad. It is the normal reaction of human beings.
b. Human beings are self focused by nature and by choice. Isa 53:6
c. We are born selfish members of a selfish race and we put self first.
d. When things don't go our way (rightly or wrongly), we get angry.
6. Jesus died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for Him. II Cor 5:15
a. When we repent and commit ourselves to Christ, we turn from self to God in one area of our lives (overall direction). Matt 16:24
b. We have decided to go God's way, do it His way, and as we grow, areas are continually exposed where we are self focused, and we must choose to look away from self toward God and others.
C. I Sam 25:1-39 gives us understanding of how anger works and we can learn from it.
1. David went to the wilderness of Paran. v1
a. A very rich, but mean and cruel, man, Nabal, lived there. His wife, Abigail, was beautiful and intelligent. v2,3
b. Nabal was shearing sheep. David sent ten men with a message. v4-9
c. Greetings and peace; your shepherds were with us for a while and we were good to them. Now we ask for anything you can give us.
d. Nabal meanly said: Forget it!! When David heard that, he was ready to fight (400 armed men). v10-13
e. One of Nabal's servants told Abigail the whole story. v14-17
f. She took David a gift, said she'd accept the blame, and asked him not to shed innocent blood. v18-31
g. David listened to her and gave up his plan. v32-35
2. v5-8--David made an offer of friendship. He did good. He didn't deserve the response he got from Nabal.
a. v10,11--Nabal's response was totally self focused. Who is this guy?
1. I'm superior. It's not worth my time to verify his story. Why should I share my stuff with him? He insulted (Living) and railed on them. v14
2. Nabal's name means fool = self confident (or self focused) one. Was of the house of Caleb (v3) so he knew Lev 19:18 (love your neighbor).
3. David's reaction was also self focused -- he can't do that to me!
b. Not how David talked to himself: v21--David had been saying to himself, "A lot of good it did us to help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness so that not one thing was lost or stolen, but he repaid me bad for good. All that I get for my trouble is insults. (Living)
c. David made the decision to retaliate. He insulted me, I'll kill his people.
d. Then he got God's "blessing" on his plan (v22)--May God curse me if even one of his men remains alive by tomorrow morning. (Living)
3. Nabal's treatment of David was awful, sinful.
a. However, the responsibility to walk in love was on David. The fact that Nabal was wrong in his treatment of David did not free David from his obligation to walk in love. Matt 5:39
b. But, David fed his anger with what he told himself and focused on.
c. David could have said: Maybe the man's having a bad day. Maybe he misunderstood my message. Maybe he doesn't realize he insulted me. Maybe he is a jerk, but God tells me to treat him as I want to be treated.
4. Notice, Abigail brought wisdom into the situation. Prov 15:1
a. v25--Talked to David the way he should have talked to himself.
b. Told him what kind of man her husband was; she didn't see messengers.
c. v26--God has stopped you from avenging yourself. He'll take care of you. d. v27-30--Then she gave him the gift and spoke a blessing on him.
e. She pointed out that putting off the short term benefit of venting anger for long range good. v30,31--When the Lord has done all the good things He promised you and has made you king of Israel, you won't want the conscience of a murder who took the law into his own hands. (Living)
5. Notice these key points:
a. Uncontrolled anger harms innocent people -- David and his men and Nabal's men (almost).
b. Anger is controllable -- David controlled his.
c. God really will take care of things if you obey Him and give up your desire to get revenge. v36-38; Rom 8:28
D. Many of us operate from this premise: I just can't control my temper. I'm Irish; you don't understand what I'm dealing with, etc.
1. Dealing with anger involves exercising self control.
a. When you and I were born again, we were made new on the inside, in our spirit, but we did not get a new body, mind, emotions, or mouth.
b. However, God expects us to control them all = exercise self control
c. That is a major NT theme. Rom 6:13;18,19; Rom 8:13; I Cor 9:24-27; Gal 5:16; Eph 4:29; Phil 2:14; Col 3:5;8; James 1:19; I Pet 2:11
2. Some say: I just can't help myself in certain areas. That is not true.
a. God says you can control yourself by His power in you. Phil 4:13
b. We all exercise self control in certain areas -- if we want the reward or if we don't want the consequence of exercising or not exercising that control.
c. If the motivation is strong enough, you will control yourself.
3. There are two primary motivations for Christians to exercise self control.
a. I love God, I'm grateful to God, and I want to please Him.
b. I don't want to reap the consequences of not controlling myself.
4. Not controlling myself = doing it my way = focused on self = selfishness.
5. There are many dangers connected with doing it your way = selfishness.
a. It comes natural to all of us, and it can be difficult to recognize in ourselves (but not in others).
b. It's an easy behavior to excuse.
1. It's really not that bad. At least I don't fornicate or commit murder.
2. If you understood my pain, you'd see I have the right to act this way.
c. We see selfishness not as ugly, but as understandable (when it's us!!)
6. There seem to be no really bad consequences to putting self first. We can live for self and not seem to pay a price. In fact, it can seem rewarding because we often get our way.
a. But sin is deceitful. Just because there are no immediate consequences doesn't mean there aren't consequences. Rom 6:23; Matt 16:25; Gen 3:1-7
b. The Bible is filled with examples of people who suffered greatly because they put self above God and others. (Naba, for one)
E. How do you control your anger?
1. Venting anger sinfully comes from a decision I make not to exercise self control. I must now decide to obey God and begin to exercise self control.
2. Renew your mind = change the way you think in this area. Rom 12:2
a. I am no longer to live for self, but for God. II Cor 5:15; Matt 16:24
b. God's will is that I become other centered. Phil 2:4--Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing. (Living)
c. The Bible directs me away from self toward God and others.
d. When I act on my anger rather than on God's word, I put self first.
e. Develop the mind set -- I no longer live for self but for God and others.
3. Remember these facts about emotions:
a. Emotions are involuntary; can't will yourself to feel, not feel something.
b. Your emotions are not to drive you to action. You are to control them.
1. I am angry is incorrect. I am a new creature who feels angry.
2. I am a new creature and can therefore control my anger.
c. You control your emotions by a decision (an act of the will) not to respond based on those emotions.
d. You change your emotions by changing what you're thinking. Matt 6:31
4. The key to self control is controlling your mouth.
a. James 3:2--Able to control his whole nature. (Weymouth)
1. Prov 13:3--Self control means controlling the tongue. A quick retort can ruin everything. (Living)
2. Prov 12:16--A prudent man ignores an insult. (Amp)
3. Prov 15:28--A good man thinks before he speaks; the evil man pours out his evil words without a thought. (Living)
4. Prov 21:23--Keep your mouth closed and you'll stay out of trouble. (Living)
5. Prov 29:11--A fool loses his temper, but a wise man keeps quiet. (New Life)
b. You get control of your tongue with praise. Ps 34:1
1. Thank you Father for this person. I praise you for him, Father.
2. You're obeying I Tim 2:1, Matt 5:44; expressing faith in Rom 8:28
3. Why does "count to ten when you are angry" work? It's based on a spiritual law = control your tongue and you control your actions.
F. Conclusion: Anger is a normal human reaction when people and things don't go our way. Don't let it drive you to sin.
1. It is possible to be angry and sin not as we learn to exercise self control.
a. By the grace of God, restrain yourself from doing or saying to that other person anything you would not want said or done to you.
b. Harness your mouth with praise before you "go off".
c. Don't feed your anger, feed peace.
2. Always remember that although we do fail to perfectly walk in love toward others, God never fails to walk in love toward us.
3. Prov 19:11--Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense. (Amp)