Monday, January 10, 2011

Anger and Forgiveness: Sermon Recap

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. 


Kim said...

Pastor Derek, This was a great sermon. Having come through some periods of severe anger,I was happy to reflect and find myself in a good place on this topic. However, I would be interested to hear from your prospective what to do when your anger is directed at God? I have seen this type of anger really alter peoples walk with Christ, their relationships and the quality of their life in general.When you mentioned picturing that face of that person that is the source of our anger, I couldn't help but wonder if some people may have closed their eyes to only see God. How do we deal with that? Just curious what your thoughts are on this.

Larry Shallenberger said...


The predominant form of prayer in the Psalms is "lament"-- people complaining to God and expressing their frustrations with him. Philip Yancy said that being angry with God and telling him is a form of faith-- you are engaging the God you are angry at.

Pastor Larry

Derek said...


I think anger with God is perfectly acceptable since it is a relationship. God is big enough to handle our frustrations and questions. However, I would let a couple of principles guide this situation.

1. Deal with God directly. Some people use 'anger with God' as an excuse to go out and live like hell - and seek comfort in stuff that will never provide ultimate answers. If someone is angry at God they should deal directly with God about it and not use it as an excuse to walk away from Him.

2. Just like it is important to not carry un-forgiveness around in our other relationships - it is also damaging to our relationship with God if we carry that anger for a long period of time. It will become a cancer to the soul.

3. At some point we need to acknowledge that we have a limited perspective on our circumstances while God sees the whole picture. He is God and we are not. Job 38-42 brings a great perspective on how big God is in the face of our complaints.

Great question and I wish I could have gotten into this more in the actual sermon time. I think we needed a whole month for this particular topic!

Thanks for dropping by my site.

Kim Green said...

Great responses thanks...Derek you are so right about that kind of anger becoming a cancer to the soul. Deal with it NOW-- Before it deals with you! Anyone in this situation should seek out counseling--left unattended this kind of anger will eat a hole in your heart!!