So we need to understand that you cannot just file away anger and hope it goes away, it needs to be dealt with. Now, I'm going to answer three questions for you tonight to help you see the answer to anger. The first question is: what is anger?
The second is: what made me angry? What made you angry? The third is: how do I deal with my anger?
Prayer to release anger
OK, first of all: what is anger? Do you understand what anger is? Let me give you three things that hopefully will help you understand what anger is. The first thing is: it is God-given. Anger is given to us by God as an emotional release. It is an emotion God has given us, but it is given to us so that we might release - it's like a release valve. We use the expression, don't we: 'Letting off steam'. It's like the pressure cooker, if you don't let off the steam, it explodes, the lid blows off!
That's the way we are with anger if we don't express it - by the way, emotions were meant to be emoted, the clue is in the name: they are meant to come out, they are meant to be released! So when we don't release them at the time and at the event that we feel them, there is damage that is done - do you know that?
It is healthy to express yourself at the time and the moment of an event that makes you angry. Now, we will learn a little bit later that not every expression of anger is permissible, but we are meant to express it at the time. So: what is anger? It is God-given, and you've got to get to that place of actually recognising that anger is neutral, in and of itself it is not sin, but it is a gift from God.
Now, are you all there? I'm not sure about that one. What is anger? Secondly: it is a signal or a warning that is sending us a message, just like the light on your dashboard, telling us that something deeper needs attention. Now, I know that there are some people - I'm not suggesting that there is anyone here tonight - but, for the MOT, if there is a wee light showing, you'll go to the mechanic and ask him to change the bulb. Some do that, around our country they do that anyway, to get it through the test - please don't do that!
But that would be ridiculous, especially in our lives, if we tried to remedy the anger - OK - but not the deep down issue that is causing the anger. So the anger is necessarily the problem, the anger is the warning sign and signal that there is a deeper problem that needs attention. Now, that being said, there are thoughts and attitudes that could contribute to our anger that are sinful - but we need to be cognisant of unresolved hurts, issues, past occurrences that cause us to feel anger and affect how we think about ourselves, how we think about others, and even how we think about God.
So if you're angry tonight, and you're able to admit it, you've got to see that it's a flashing light telling you that something deeper needs attention. So: one, anger is God-given; two, it's a signal or warning; and thirdly, we must distinguish between the anger which is neutral, and sin which is contributing to the anger, and sin that is resulting from the anger.
Are you with me? So there is the surgeon's scalpel, and the word of God and the Spirit of God are masterful at doing this: dividing soul, from spirit, bone, and marrow, being the distinguisher of the thoughts and the intents of the heart.
So you've got to look and say: 'Right, I'm angry, and the anger itself is OK per se; but if it's out of control, or if I'm expressing it in the wrong way, where is sin mixed in here? You've got to allow the scalpel of the Holy Spirit to say to you: 'Well, this is sin. You're angry about this, but sin has contributed to this, and this is a sinful way that you are expressing and venting your anger'. So, what is anger? God-given; it's a warning sign; but you must distinguish between the neutral emotion of anger, and where sin has contributed to it, and where sin has come as a result.
Now, second question: what has made me angry? Now many of you tonight may be able to say: 'Oh, I know exactly what it is', but some of you will not. Now, I have to acknowledge tonight some teaching from Ellel Ministries, which has been tremendously helpful in delineating various contributors to making us angry. There are nine here, or so, listen to them carefully, you might want to jot them down. One of the major ways that we become angry, and one of the underlying causes of anger is injustice, OK? The scales are not fair, do you understand?
Now, each of us, whether we're Christians or not, we've all been given a God-given, inbuilt sense of right and wrong, a sense of justice. When there is injustice we can become angry. I want you to turn with me to 2 Samuel chapter 12, 2 Samuel 12 verse 1 - are you ready? Now, just to bring you up to speed here, the last verse of chapter 11, it says at the very end: 'the thing that David had done displeased the LORD'.
What did David do?
What was the thing that David did? Well, David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and it didn't please the Lord. If you're committing adultery, fornication tonight, it doesn't please the Lord. Also, add to that: he got the fellow murdered that the woman he was committing adultery with was married to - Uriah. He put him at the forefront of the battle, and he had him slain.
The Healing Power of Forgiveness
This displeased the Lord. And he came to him, and said to him: 'There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him''.
Do you see this? Nathan is telling a parable: there is this guy, and he treats this lamb like a baby, he feeds it like a baby, it's the only one he's got.
Step One: Find the Desire to Forgive
The rich fellow has a visitor who comes, and the rich fellow who has all these flocks, he slays the little lamb of this man who has only the one lamb and treats it like a daughter. Now, look at the reaction of David in verse 5: 'So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, 'As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!
Now we know, because verse 7 says, Nathan says to David: 'You are the man!
You're the guy we're talking about! You've stolen another man's wife, you could have had any woman in the kingdom, but you stole his wife and you've killed him! But what I want you to see is: David, even in his sin, had an innate sense of injustice, that this was wrong, what this rich man did - killing the poor man's little lamb.
So all of us can be aroused within ourselves when we hear of an injustice. Maybe you turn the radio on in the morning, and you hear of an old lady or an old man, a pensioner who has had their house broken into, or they have been beaten up - and even the hardest among us will feel a sense of anger and injustice. But when things happen to us, injustices - maybe you're here tonight, and you're saying: 'What happened to me was not fair, it just wasn't! Whatever that is, it's not fair, and it makes you angry. The second contributor to anger is betrayal.
Here we see on the screen relational betrayal, which is everywhere, even right throughout the church. Whatever the relationship might be where there has been betrayal, there will be a sense of broken trust. You find it difficult to trust people because you're angry with what happened. You feel you have been disrespected, loyalty has broken down - maybe in your present relationship or past ones - and you find it hard to cultivate that now in the present.
Your confidence has been knocked. Maybe out of betrayal, you're angry against third parties, other people who were involved in that whole incident, people who didn't take your side but took your betrayer's side. Maybe you're even angry at yourself? I've heard this so many times, people saying: 'How stupid was I! I was taken for a ride there! I was made such a fool of! Or maybe you're angry because you weren't believed when you were telling others about the betrayal, or maybe it was abuse and you spoke about it and the nearest and dearest to you didn't believe you, maybe even punished you. Maybe some of you even feel a sense of betrayal from God?
Yes, people feel God was at fault because He allowed this to happen - that's what we say, it's not very accurate, but that's often the way we feel, and that's what we say: 'How could You allow this to happen to me, this injustice, this betrayal? We get angry even at God. Injustice, betrayal, and then thirdly: failure.
Related I Should Forgive, But...2nd Edition: Finding Release from the Bondage of Anger and Bitterness
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