Speaker: Pastor Darin Browne
Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV)
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
I am doing a series on attitudes within our modern 21st century society that we as believers must detox from. I’ve looked at relative truth, then the doctrine of the Selfie, and today I want to explore the rise of anger and verbal abuse. And yes, it’s not just in society, we can find its equivalent in the church.
And let’s face it, we all get angry at times. I heard about a man talking to his wife and he said, “When I get angry at you, you never fight back. How do you control your anger?” She replied, “I just go and scrub out the garbage bin.” He asked, “How does that help?” She replied, “I use your toothbrush!” We all have ways of venting anger.
WHY ARE PEOPLE SO ANGRY NOW?
Why are people so offended these days? A guy called Fenon said, “Humility is the source of all true greatness: pride is ever impatient, ready to be offended.”
Let’s call it what it is at its root, it’s pride, and an incredible propensity to be offended.
I am continually amazed at how offended people are on Facebook about things that have no direct bearing on their life. We not only get angry and offended about something that affects us, but people also get offended on behalf of someone else! We have FB rage, road rage, domestic violence.
Currently one in six women and one in sixteen men suffer domestic violence, and one woman a week and one man a month are murdered by a current or former partner. We are an angry mob in 21st century Australia!
ANGER…A FORCE FOR GOOD OR EVIL?
Anger can be both a motivator for change and a destructive force. Sometimes people have criticised me, and it drives me to do something great. Other times, I let it crush me. I want to examine the difference, between godly and ungodly anger and discover how to manage your anger in a godly way.
I think we can all agree that we see more anger today than ever before. People attack viciously when they see something they disagree with, or don’t get what they want. The fact is, every one of us gets angry, especially in our modern society.
Proverbs 12:16 (ESV)
The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
Anger itself is a natural emotion, and it’s not necessarily sin, but I would have to say it often leads to sin. We cannot avoid offence. But remember, we are not responsible for offences that come our way, but how we handle them is another thing.
Anger can be one of the most destructive of all human vices, causing hurt and pain to everyone around you, and it’s on the rise in our society.
When we become angry, we don’t behave as we ought. People sometimes have blind rage, anger so intense they become blind to what’s important. And it’s a lot more common than you think, yes even among God’s people. But James said…
James 1:20 (ESV)
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Psalms 37:8 (ESV)
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
Anger has always been a part of man’s psyche, but we need to understand the difference between sinful and righteous anger. What does sinful anger look like?
WHAT DOES SINFUL ANGER LOOK LIKE?
Sinful anger is most often sudden. Sometimes it takes time to build, but when it blows, it blows big!
Proverbs 29:20 (ESV)
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
A woman approached the great evangelist Billy Sunday justifying her anger. She said, “I might explode in anger, but it dissipates quickly.” He replied, “A shotgun explodes and is quickly over, but think of the damage it causes!” That’s why the Bible says…
Proverbs 15:18 (ESV)
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Proverbs 29:22 (ESV)
A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
When I marry couples together, I teach them a little tactic…time out. If an argument is escalating, either side at any time can call a time out, and they have to separate and say nothing for half an hour. When they come back, the conversation is far more controlled.
There is a reaction and a response. A reaction is never righteous. The knee jerk reaction to being attacked is hitting back in anger, and it’s almost always wrong. A response, in contrast, takes a lot longer, is measured, balanced, and calmly thought through. Suddenness is most often wrong, and you cannot replay it. Once your vitriol is out there, the pain continues, even when you say sorry. You cannot unscramble an egg.
Another way of being angry is seething. No sudden reaction here, but the anger is suppressed, not dealt with, and shoved down until the pressure cooker eventually explodes. To quote Bonnie Tyler, it’s living on a powder keg and giving off sparks!
I made pumpkin soup one day. I cut up pumpkin, boiled it, added it piping got to my glass blender, jammed in as much as I could, then hit the button. Can you guess what happened? The whole blender exploded, and hot, yellow stuff went around the kitchen. I got burned, the kitchen got yellowed, and I got relegated to take out!
Ephesians 4:26-27 (ESV)
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Suppressing your anger sets you up to explode, it’s a pressure cooker, and this is what is behind mass shootings, and most divorces. It builds up, and unless released, it will cause widespread and unbelievable damage to you and those around you.
Angry people cause strife wherever they go. They criticise everything, separate friends, blow up marriages, and bring cursing into people’s lives that can scar them for life.
Proverbs 29:22 (ESV)
A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
Some of you here cause pain and damage in your relationships, even your own family, because you do not control your anger. Some here have been deeply hurt by something someone said in anger and you have carried it for years. A man of wrath stirs up strife.
Uncontrolled anger makes you sick…and everyone around you. Will Rogers said, “People who fly off in a rage seldom make a good landing.” Anger affects people.
Individuals who are chronically angry experience more high blood pressure, reduced immunity to disease, increased prevalence of cancers, diabetes and, of course, increased mental health issues, including substance abuse and suicides. Make no mistake, uncontrolled anger is deadly, for you and everyone else in the blast zone!
Ecclesiastes 7:9 (ESV)
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
Psalms 38:3 (ESV)
There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
WHAT DOES RIGHTEOUS ANGER LOOK LIKE?
Anger is mostly sinful but can at times be righteous. Now let’s get this clear, being right in your eyes about something doesn’t make your anger righteous. It makes it self-righteous! We always think we are right, otherwise we wouldn’t argue. Ask Fiona, I never argue, I’m just explaining why I am right.
The characteristics of righteous anger are…
1: RIGHTEOUS ANGER IS NOT PERSONAL
One of the things we see all around us that we need to detox from is anger that is personal. Angry people become character assassins, attacking people, not issues. Recently Fiona helped a lady on Facebook who asked about a counsellor for her 18-year-old, out of control son. While she offered asked for advice, most people just attacked her as a bad parent.
As a pastor, I have frequently been attacked, not about doctrine or the way I do things, but personally, being told I am a lousy pastor, not called and not fit for the job. If you make your anger personal. It’s not righteous, no matter how noble your cause.
Matthew 12:36-37 (ESV)
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
2: RIGHTEOUS ANGER IS NOT VENGEFUL
Hebrews 10:30 (ESV)
For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
In our anger it is never right to seek revenge. I mentioned the other week how these days people leave one-star reviews because, if they feel slighted, they try and take revenge by destroying that business’ reputation. Attempting to destroy someone’s reputation is something we often do, but it is not godly anger at all.
3: RIGHTEOUS ANGER IS NOT CONTINUAL
Righteous anger is not continual, not chronic. Jesus was angry, but He never stayed angry!
John 2:15-16 (ESV)
And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
But a chapter later He is saying…
John 3:16-17 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Today Jesus doesn’t condemn you, even if you explode in anger. Jesus got angry, but He did not sin, and it passed quickly, because He knew that godly anger is a short-term event. Chronic anger is counterproductive, and if you are an angry person constantly, when you do get angry over something legitimate, its effect is limited, because you’re known for being angry about everything.
Please understand, if you have anger issues, Jesus is not angry at you, He loves you, but He doesn’t want you and others around you to continue to suffer because of your sin of anger.
Let me ask you…
ARE YOU GROWING AN ANGER TREE?
Anger grows very subtly over some time. Its growth is revealed in this verse…
Ephesians 4:31 (ESV)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
So, let’s look at the six steps of anger listed here:
1: Bitterness (A bitter root!)
This is the birth of true, sinful anger. When you fail to forgive, when you fail to dig this root out, it will grow into fruit you do not want to harvest!
Hebrews 12:15 (ESV)
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
2: Wrath (A boiling heart!)
This speaks of the heat you feel in your heart if you let the root grow! You begin to do a slow burn in your heart! People around you walk in eggshells. You could blow at any minute!
3: Anger (A beginning display!)
This is the beginning of revealing you are mad. Your jaw locks in place and your veins pop out on your neck. Your BP is raised. Bitterness and wrath are turning into true, seething anger!
4: Clamour (A blaring outburst!)
The explosion of anger. Someone said, “I’ve got half a mind to tell him off.” The other person responded, “Well, you better not do that, you won’t have anything left!” Most of us don’t have half of a mind left after we become angry; we have blind rage.
5: Slander (A blasphemous evil speaking!)
Your anger hurts and destroys others, and you even start to say things you do not mean. You are not thinking about what you are saying because anger has taken control of your tongue. At this point, you have turned your heart over to anger, and are controlled by anger instead of God.
6: Malice (A blazing vengeance!)
Did you know that sixty percent of all homicides in America take place in the home among family members? The end of anger is the raised fist, knife, or gun – or perhaps your keyboard or tongue! Seeking vengeance is the true end of anger’s path, resulting in words said and things done that often can’t be undone. It brings psychological harm, often physical harm and sometimes death! Every week in this country someone dies as a result of the anger of somebody they once loved. Every week over 1,000 divorces occur between people angry at each other.
Someone asked Fiona if she’d ever thought of divorcing me. She was horrified. She said confidently, I have never thought of divorce…I’ve thought of murder many times. Jesus said exactly that in the verse we opened with, equating anger with murder. This is serious stuff!
THE ANTIDOTE FOR ANGER
ADMIT YOUR SIN
Stop justifying your bad behaviour and say, Lord, I am calling it what it is, it’s sin, so please forgive me. As humans we are adept as passing the buck, but until you call sin what it is, you will not deal properly with it.
And beware of blaming the devil or demons. They can irritate you, tempt you, influence you, but they don’t cause you to sin. In my experience, we don’t need to cast out a demon of anger in a Christian, we need to confess a sin of anger and let the Lord heal us.
NULLIFY THE NEGATIVES
Our modern lives are so full of things designed to make us angry, anxious and fearful. You need to nullify these, especially in social media. Stop filling your head with negatives, instead, fill your mind with things that are godly and positive. If you are at peace, you are not easily angered…
Philippians 4:7-8 (ESV)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
So, fill your mind with these things, and hence peace, not conflict and anger!
GUARD YOUR MOUTH
A woman talked to her counsellor about her husband’s sudden, uncontrollable outbursts of anger. The doctor suggested that, when an outburst is imminent, she drink a glass of water, but instead of swallowing, she swills it around in her mouth until he calms down. She thought this strange advice but was so desperate she tried it. Returning two weeks later, she was delighted with the result, and her husband never blew up once.
“How does it work?” she asked. The counsellor said, “The water does nothing. I think you’ll find that keeping your mouth shut is what does the trick.”
Psalms 141:3 (ESV)
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
Proverbs 12:18 (ESV)
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
We need to watch what we say, and type, because our mouths escalate anger. And make sure your speech is seasoned with salt, with love and with grace. How do you speak to others around you? Does your mouth escalate or deescalate anger in others.
EXTRICATE THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS
Sometimes there is unforgiveness dug down deep in our hearts, and this becomes a root of bitterness, the root of the evil anger plant. You don’t need anger management classes, because you don’t want to manage it, you want to rip it out at the roots.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Forgiveness is the key. Sometimes it is hard to forgive, especially when you have been a victim, but harbouring unforgiveness is like drinking poison hoping the other guy dies! Unforgiveness rarely affects them, but it grows into bitterness, and it can destroy you and everyone around you.
If you are holding onto unforgiveness, we are here to help. We have a special group set up at Ignite to journey with you and pray you through to wholeness. So, call it what it is, sin, and let us help you dig it out.
RESPOND, DON’T REACT
Reactions are almost never right. So shut your mouth, step away, take time out, pray and seek a godly response.
James 1:19-20 (ESV)
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
THERE IS A GREAT HEALER FOR ANGER
Time doesn’t heal, it often makes things worse as you stew on them and get angrier and angrier. Time doesn’t heal, but God heals, and He can heal you today. Your own efforts cannot overcome, but if you yield your life to Jesus today, He will begin to heal you and set you free from the anger that either publicly or quietly consumes you.
You may have every right to be angry, but that doesn’t make your anger righteous. If you’re angry inside today, can you yield your life to Him today? You can’t solve your anger, you can’t heal the bitterness, you find it hard to forgive what someone has done to you, but you can give your life to Jesus, and He will lead you into wholeness.
Have you spoken words in anger lately?
Most of us have at one time or another. Then, let me ask you something: Have you asked God to forgive you for that? Have you asked those you’ve hurt? Most of us have not. Why not do that right now.
You might say, “I don’t need to apologise – it wasn’t my fault.” Being right doesn’t matter – being the right kind of Christian does. It just may be what God intends to use to touch the heart of the other person and bring him or her closer to God. I can promise you that it will bring you into closer fellowship with Jesus.
ADMIT AND REPENT
Admitting and repenting of anger frees us so we can experience the full measure of God’s love and grace.
God is angry with sin, but He loves you. If you have never trusted Him as your Saviour, do it now! Today is the day for you to come to Christ and discover the reason you were born and the purpose for your living.
If you are struggling with anger, today is the day you can be set free. We have to detox from this, or it will destroy our lives and everyone around us.
Also, if you have been hurt by the words of others, this is your moment to be set free too, to pull out the root of bitterness and destroy the anger plant. I challenge you to yield your life fully to Jesus Christ and allow His Holy Spirit to cleanse and set you free, even if what is affecting your life happened a long time ago. It’s time to get this sorted. You can choose to give it all to Him today, and I promise you, you will be changed forever!