Saturday, February 10, 2018
Let’s Talk About Anger
Eph. 4:25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Paul continues to educate the church as to her role as a community of faith. Most certainly this is in the development of Christ-like disciples and a recognition that we are responsible for one another. It is in this context that he takes on the topic of anger. Most have interpreted his words in verse 26 as referring to righteous indignation. In other words, there are some things about which Christians should become angry. That’s not quite the case because Paul really is just talking about good-old anger that we experience when someone has done something wrong, usually, to us. It’s actually a warning that in the midst of this situation you may respond with anger, but don’t let it go too far. Don’t let your anger get the best of you and lead you into sin.
What follows is a prescription for dealing with the anger. A Christ-follower is to try to make peace, even with those who may have aroused him/her to anger. Go to that individual and try to be reconciled, and do it immediately, even before the sun goes down. This is because Paul understands what happens when we begin to fume all night long. A dark cloud begins to envelope us and — we give the devil a little space. That space begins to steal our joy and so we don’t give in to anger. Anger leads to evil talk, and often to tearing down other people. Again, the dark cloud enters when we succumb to negativity but there is a way to fight it — by speaking with grace. The Holy Spirit is grieved when we begin to push him out by giving ground to negativity. Deal with your anger and bitterness and instead, respond with love, forgiving the one who has hurt you, because we know that Christ has forgiven us.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Something just sets us off and we know that we have been wronged. In the US there’s a new commercial out for cold sore medication. The person with the cold sore is obsessed with this sore and believes that the only thing everyone sees is the cold sore. They can’t hear conversations because all they know is that they have a cold sore. They become unaware of others around the because they have a coldsore. Life becomes consumed with dealing with the cold sore. And in the same way, we can be offended and become angry. Instead of being present in the moment, we think “angry!” We try to read and the words pass before our eyes, but we don’t know what we have read. Our mind is busy rethinking the conversation and we are “angry.” We lay down at night to go to bed and the only thing that goes through our mind is that we are “angry” as we rehearse our potential responses over and over again. If we don’t deal with the anger we can become obsessed and our joy is stolen from us.
Anger can easily destroy every good thing that God wants to do in and through our lives. I don’t think that Paul was saying that it’s easy to deal with anger. He determines to specifically address the issue. Followers of Jesus Christ should speak to one another in holy love and admonish one another to work through their anger. Paul knew the pitfall of anger was sin.
I like the way that Paul moves into the positive and gives us resourceful ways in which to deal with anger.
Angry — share something with someone who is needy. It’s hard to stay angry when you discover that there are people dealing with issues larger than yours.
Angry — spend a whole day not saying anything negative. Always say good things to the people around and you and build them up. Be intentional!
Angry — share grace with someone who needs it. Don’t be judgmental because Jesus has extended abundant grace to all of us.
Angry — recognize that you can let it go so far that you will grieve the Holy Spirit. Now that’s getting into dangerous territory so allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you in your pain.
Angry — be kind to the next person you encounter. Speak with tenderness to that customer service agent on the phone who is not responsible for your flight delay!
Angry — think about how much God has forgiven you, and then forgive the one who has hurt you.
No one ever said that this would be easy, but it’s part of the Christian journey of discipleship. As followers of Jesus Christ we must learn to deal with our sin, individually, and corporately. We have a responsibility as a community of faith to shape one another through our anger and pain. The church is the body of Christ where all emotions are experienced, and when the body is healthy, there is natural healing. This is God’s plan for Christ’s body — the church.
Lord, may anger never steal my joy. Amen.