I spoke on Anger and Forgiveness this week at Grace. The over-arching question of the morning was Do you control your anger or does your anger control you? Anger can be good – it can even be godly, but it can also be very destructive. We looked at Ephesians 4:26-32 to gain some perspective and explored 3 contrasts to help with a biblical understanding of anger.
1. Righteous vs. Unrighteous Anger
- Ask yourself: what kinds of things make me angry?
- Unrighteous anger = silly things like getting mad about sports and grocery store lines and self-centered things like jealousy and revenge.
- Righteous anger = deep-seated, determined and settled conviction –it is anger when God’s name is being scarred
- Takeaway: your circumstances don’t produce anger, your heart does. Let God change your heart. As our hearts are changed - so too will be the kinds of things that make us angry.
2. Responding in Anger vs. Reacting in Anger
- Ask yourself: how does my anger express itself?
- Anger is an emotion, not a behavior. We may not choose the emotion, but we get to decide on our behavior. An initial feeling of anger may rise, but we are not obligated to respond in an reactionary way.
- If you find yourself reacting with rage or bitterness or slander - it's a warning sign that something unhealthy is going on in your heart.
- We are like God when we’re "slow" to anger.
- Takeaway: Slow down your anger - create some space- and then remove the unhealthy behavior and replace it with healthy actions. If you get physical in your anger then find a positive physical alternative - if you are verbal, find an outlet for verbal positivity.
3. Forgiveness vs. Un-forgiveness
- Ask yourself: What do I do with my anger?
- Forgiveness is the antidote to anger - it is the key to relational healing even when, and maybe especially when, other person doesn't deserve it at all.
- Forgiveness is the way Jesus. When we don’t forgive we are out of step with our leader.
- When we hold on to anger it is like keeping an open account that says "you owe me." Forgiveness says "I’m deciding that you don’t owe me anymore." Forgiveness closes the account and breaks the power of anger.
- Walking in un-forgiveness is lethal. It's like taking poison and expecting the other guy to die.
- Takeaway: Don’t carry anger for another season...cancel the debt. Go directly to the person - make a phone call, send and email, set up a time to get together. It's time.