God's Prescription for Overcoming Anger

Bible Book: Matthew  5 : 21-22
Subject: Anger; Peace; Effectiveness
Series: God's Prescriptions for Life

God's Prescription for Overcoming Anger

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

Matthew 5:21-22 ...

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

We come to part six of our series of messages on God's Prescription for Life. This will be the last message in this series of sermons, though we certainly could consider more topics. God’s prescriptions for overcoming problems in life are too long to be contained in one sermon series. I have tried in this series of messages to deal with some issues that harm us physically, spiritually and emotionally. When we follow God’s plans regarding these issues, we discover better health, more joy and greater effectiveness in every area of our lives.

Today we are going to deal with the subject of anger. There are plenty of things to make us angry these days. The telephone is a perfect example. The phone rang at a home one day and the man on the other end said, "Is George there?" The man receiving the call explained that no one named George lived at that address. Five minutes later the phone rang again. It was the same caller, calling the same home, "Is George there?" The man receiving the call kept his cool and replied, "Sir, I told you, there is no one named George at this address." Five minutes later the phone rang once more. As anticipated, it was the same annoying caller, "Is George there?" The man receiving the call just couldn't take it anymore. He said, "Look, guy, I've told you for the last time, there is no one here named George. Don't call back here anymore!" Five minutes later the phone rang again. The recipient of the call grabbed the phone in anger and said, "HELLO!" The voice on the other end of the line was different this time, but he asked, "Hi, my name is George, do you have any calls for me?"

Actually, anger is not a laughing matter. People have been shot over a parking space at a mall or at a grocery store. The church recognized the danger of anger and very early listed it among the seven deadly sins. All sin is deadly, but anger is definitely one of the most destructive of all human vices. We are going to look at three elements of anger in our message today.

I. Sinful Anger that is Harmful

When we are angry, and do not act as we should, it can be extremely harmful. It can damage your reputation, your employment and even your marriage. It can harm your children, your co-workers or your neighbors. Sinful anger can cause many health problems as well, and it has been known to cause death – to the one who is angry or to someone around them.

 Let's first notice some aspects of sinful anger ...

A. Sudden

Proverbs 29:11 ...

"A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back."

Proverbs 29:20 ...

"Do you see a man hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him."

We note from these verses that it is dangerous to act hastely when angry. A hasty man is a fool, the Bible says - or at least there is more hope for a fool than a hasty man who is angry.

James wisely says in James 1:19 ...

"... be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

Some of you will say, "Well, I do get angry very quickly but it only lasts a little while." Friend, that is like a shotgun, it only takes a moment to fire it but look at the damage it can do!

I once had a church member who was prone to become angry at the drop of a hat. He ended up losing his job – a very good paying job – because of it. Later he lost his marriage for the same reason. Sudden anger can be extremely dangerous and very costly.

B. Seething

Ephesians 4:26 ...

"26  Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath ..."

Don't go to bed mad. May wife and I made that commitment long ago. We didn't sleep one time for three days but we kept our commitment! Seriously, seething anger is sinful and harmful. Holding on to anger is bad for your health, terrible for your relationships and really negative for your witness.

C. Strifeful

Proverbs 29:22...

“An angry person stirs up strife and dissension.”

Another verse in the Bible commands us to drop a matter before it breaks out into a dispute, otherwise the argument is like a dam that breaks and cannot be controlled. In other words, anger is sinful when you allow it to create strife and dissension that gets beyond controllable boarders.

Anger places a barrier between you and other people, and it can place an obstruction before you fellowship with the Lord.

D. Sickening

Will Rogers, the humorist once said, "People who fly off in a rage seldom make a good landing."

Anger is sinful because it is harmful.

Campus Magazine contained an article speaking to young people that warned about the dangers of anger. The writer stated that anger can make you bitter, withdrawn, and negative.

It can be worse than that. It raises your blood pressure, tightens your arteries, increases your heart rate, takes blood from needed areas of your body and rushes it around trying to prepare you for a fight, causes certain glands to secrete hormones and causes other bodily disturbances. It can literally kill you!

My father had heart disease, but he also had a propensity to become angry. On one occasion a doctor spoke to him about it. The cardiologist said, “Mr. Minnix, if you don’t control your temper, it is going to kill you.” Dad got the message. Even though his heart condition was terrible and he wasn’t expected to live more than two to three years, he lived twenty-one additional years before going home to be with the Lord.

To strengthen our witness, protect our health, and enjoy our relationships we need to understand how to control, or allow God to control, our anger issues. Anger is not just a psychological issue – it is a spiritual issue!

II. Spiritual Anger that is Holy

Ephesians 4:29 states that it is possible to be angry and not sin! Jesus was angry, but He never sinned.

Look at Mark 3:1-5 ...

And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.

Look at John 2:14-17 ...

And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored [c]as whole as the other.

Jesus was angry but he was not sinful. What was the difference?

A. It is not Personal

He did not direct his anger at a person, but at a problem.

B. It is not Vengeful

We are never to seek revenge. Look at Hebrews 10:30 ...

30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” [a]says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”

C. It is not Continual

Jesus did not remain angry! He sought to correct injustice or false religion, but it didn’t control his mind, heart or spirit.

Even holy anger must be kept in the right perspective. We are not God, and we can’t straighten out everything, every situation, or every problem. We need to allow room for God to work in certain situations. When we become angry and try to take control, we often make matters worse. When we are able to keep a calm spirit and take matters before the Lord, He can defend us or deal with the problem in His own way – and, His way is always the right way.

III. Supervised Anger that is Honorable

A. Restrict the Type

Look at Ephesians 4:31 ...

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Here we find six steps to anger:

1. Bitterness (A bitter root!)

This is the birth of true, sinful anger.

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!

3. Anger (A beginning display!)

This is the beginning of revealing you are mad. Your jaw locks in place. Your veins pop out on your neck. You eyes flash. Your bitterness and wrath turns into true anger!

4. Clamor (A blaring outburst!)

Someone said, “I've got half a mind to tell him off.” The other person responded, “Well, you better not do that. With no more mind than you have that might be dangerous.” Actually, most of us don't have half of a mind left after we become angry!

5. Evil Speaking (A blasphemous slander!)

You start to say things you do not even 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 the anger rather than turning your heart and head over to 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 rolling pen! Seeking vengeance is the true end of anger’s path. It results is words said and things done that often can’t be undone. It brings psychological harm, physical harm and sometimes death!

B. Restrict the Target

Correct anger is always at a cause not at a person! We wrestle not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). Be careful not to turn your anger on a person or group of people.

C. Restrict the Time

Don't let the sun go down on your anger.

How do you get and keep anger under control?

Confess Anger immediately to the Lord. There are six things you can do in order to control your fits of anger. You can use the acrostic ALARMS to remember them.

A - Agree with God about anger

Review the type of anger, the target of your anger, and the time of your anger

Call anger what God calls it. That is actually what confession means – it is simply to call our sins what God calls them.

L - Lower your voice immediately

A soft answer turns away wrath. Try arguing in a soft, sweet voice. It is almost impossible to do so. Thus, lowering your voice can calm our anger.

A – Accept responsibility for your own action.

Never say, “He made me so mad.” Sure, there is a place for anger if someone is physically attacking you or someone around you, but otherwise the other guy is not MAKING you angry – you are simply becoming angry. What is in your heart will surface, so keep your heart calm in the Lord.

R – Rest your spirit.

People used to say, “Count to ten before you become angry. It is better to stop and pray when you find yourself getting angry. Anger is often an attempt to protect ourselves. We feel our ego has been bruised and we respond. Don’t take things so personally. Remember, you are a child of God. He loves you. You have nothing to prove!

M - Manage your anger!

You say you can't control your temper? Have you ever been in an argument with your wife, husband or children, and right in the middle of a shouting match the phone rings? Do you what you do in that case? You lower your voice, you click on the phone and politely say, “Hello.” You sound as sweet as an angel when you answer the phone. The interruption of your anger and the thought that someone else may hear your disturbance, calms you immediately. Always remember, God hears every conversation. You can control your temper, if you really want to.

S - Seek God's forgiveness and help in controlling your anger.

If you have become angry and it simply got away from your control, seek God’s forgiveness. And, go to the person with whom he became angry and say the two toughest words in the world to speak – “I’m Sorry!” When you apologize, it reminds you to avoid putting yourself in the position of having to do it again. It can help you control your anger.

I was preaching a revival a few years ago and, in one of the services early in the week, I asked members to seek out people during the invitation with whom they had experienced anger or strong disagreements. I wasn’t sure anyone would actually do that during the invitation, but I sensed God’s Spirit leading me to ask people to do so. At first a couple of people went over to shake hands with others. Then some people began to hug each other weep. Before long, people were down at the front of the church on their knees, in tears, holding hands and praying. The next couple of nights in that revival were amazing. People began to come to Jesus - in fact several people were saved. Long-held grievances were laid aside. Even after that revival, the pastor told me that God was moving in his church in remarkable ways.

You see, you can sometimes hide your anger from others, but you can’t hide it from God. Unless we lay aside hard feelings in our church, our families and marriages, God will never fully bless us. When we rid our hearts of anger, God’s Spirit pours in and joy unspeakable and full of glory empowers us to live for the Lord and serve Him effectively.

Conclusion

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? Most of us have not. Why not do that right now. And, if you have spoken words in anger that you know have caused hurt to a family member, friend or co-worker, determine right now that you are going to apologize. And, don’t say, “I don’t need to apologize – it wasn’t my fault.” Fault 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.

If each of us will do this, we will see others come to Christ in greater numbers. Admitting and repenting of anger frees us so we can experience the full measure of God’s love and grace.

God’s is angry with sin, but He loves you. If you have never trusted Him as your Savior, 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.