Bible Study 2021
How to Deal with Anger
We all experience the consequences and the effects of human anger. We all have been angry at times in our own lives and we have had people who were angry at us. And anger as a force or as a power is one of the most destructive forces that can be unleashed among human beings. And it is an emotion, an attitude that is so powerful, real and pervasive in our culture, you would think we would have a better understanding of it.
And yet it seems that we don’t understand it very much. And yet Scripture is by no means silent on this subject. And I would like you to turn your attention to Ephesians 4:25-27, “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 Be angry, and do not sin. “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”
Now here Paul addresses the difficult problem of anger. And he does it in a rather unusual way. The opening statement that he gives with respect to anger is this. Verse 26, “Be angry and do not sin.” This does not mean that we should be angry people. But what he is acknowledging is that inherently and intrinsically anger by itself is not a sin. If it were a sin, than that would mean two things.
One that God is evil, and two that Christ was a sinner. Because we know that that is part of the character of God for Him to express His wrath. And we see in the New Testament, particularly in the episode of Christ cleansing the temple where He fashioned a whip out of ropes and He turned over the tables and threw the money changers out of the temple. And Christ was visibly angry with what happened.
Now we have a phrase that describes that particular type of anger which we call righteous indignation. Anytime God is angry it is a righteous kind of anger. But our episodes of anger are not always quite so righteous. Sometimes we are angry without just cause, which Jesus warns against in the Sermon on the Mount. Anger is such a volatile human emotion that many times that anger becomes an occasion for sin.
That is where we lose control, we lose our temper. What does that mean? To be temperate is to be moderate, is to be sober, to have ourselves in a state of self-control. And anger causes the loss of self-control, and causes us to behave destructive, and harmful to ourselves and to other people. So Paul says, “Be angry, and do not sin.” He understood that anger causes all kinds of wickedness.
And then he adds another thing, “and don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” That is a metaphor of course. What does he mean? Anger can become bitterness, resentment, harboring grudges, all these things flow out of anger that hasn’t been dealt with, where we carry over that anger to the next day, the next week or our entire life. We do not resolve that on the day it happened.
Many of us walk through this world filled with anger that never really has been dealt with. You have heard of people that seem to be explosive, walking through their life is like walking through a mine field. You are afraid to step on their feelings and you walk around as if you are on egg shells, because they are so temperamental. There is so much anger in them.
They have never dealt with that anger in the first place. The sun set on that anger and that anger then begins to eat away to become bitterness and resentment and an attitude of grudge and hostility. So the power of anger can bring down nations, creates war. It can ruin families, and destroys marriages. And so it is very important for a Christian to understand the nature of anger and how to deal with that.
One of the principal things is not to let the sun to go down on your anger. My wife and I have been married for 51 years and I would like to say to the world that we a never had a disagreement between each other, but that would be a lie. Two people, I don’t care who they are, who are married for a long time cannot live together without having any disagreements and without provoking one another.
We all need to ask ourselves from time to time, what makes you angry. Certain things that might anger me wouldn’t bother another person at all. And things that bother you could make me mad. We all are just build different and we have different reasons for responding the way we do to certain things. There are basic elements to anger that have been isolated.
There are three most common causes for anger. The first one is disappointment. How do you handle disappointment? This is one of the most difficult things for children to learn how to deal with. If you are not allowed to do something, all of a sudden there is that anger and rage because he or she plans to do something and these hopes now are becoming an expectation that was not realized.
And the result is anger and disappointment. And we know that people will disappoint people. We are not able to completely fulfill all the expectations that people have. And if we fail to meet their expectations, if we let them down, they will get angry. Let them down is used for the various levels of expectations, if we are unhappy, we feel low. And when we are happy we feel high.
Now number two, closely related to that is frustration. This is really disappointment that is repeated. Where your hopes are not realized repeatedly. It is one thing to hope for something and it not come to pass, you are a little bit disappointed, but you are not angry yet. And then the same thing happens the next day and the next day and pretty soon you are frustrated because you failed to achieve your goal.
Typically in a football game there are no fights, and you hardly ever see that because these are highly disciplined athletes who are engaged in physical contact and you never see a fight in the first quarter or in the second quarter. But in the fourth quarter when one team realizes that it has no longer any hope of winning the game, the fights break out when they are frustrated that they failed to achieve their goal.
So if you see somebody who is angry, you might want to check and see what was the goal or their hope or their desire that they had, their dream in life that wasn’t realized that left them frustrated and disappointed. These are two of the most frequent causes of anger. Now the third cause of anger is pain or hurt. Somebody walks up to you and slaps you in the face, chances are that is going to make you mad.
Somebody knocks you over that causes you to scrape your knee. That might make you angry, because that person caused you pain. This is a matter of understanding physical pain. But we know that there are other pains besides physical pain. There is emotional pain in frustration. The person who hurt your feelings, who insults you, who slanders you, who gossips about you, injures your reputation.
The person who destroys your name causes pain in your life. The person who cheats you out of your money in a business deal has inflicted pain on you. It hurts to lose your investment. So that pain translates into anger. Now notice that all these involve some kind of pain. Disappointment is painful, frustration is painful, physical hurt is painful, and emotional hurt is painful.
Jesus was angry when He saw what happened to His Father’s house. It pained Him to see His father’s house which was to be a house of prayer turned into a den of thieves, a house of merchandise. Jesus expressed His anger. There is no anger that is not rooted in some kind of pain. In understanding your own anger and someone else’s anger, we need to look past this anger to the pain.
If somebody says, “I am really mad at you.” What is your normal reaction? Are you going to be defensive? Are you not going to be sympathetic? Are you uncomfortable? What if somebody comes up to you and says, “I’m really hurt.” Why are you hurt? Because of something you said to me the other day. So how are you going to respond to that? My human response to that is to bring healing and peace.
As a Christian do you really want to hurt people? If someone says, “I’m really hurt.” That might make you mad at yourself. But your response to someone who comes to you in rage is different. Angry responses provoke angry responses. And anger can escalate until a war starts. If we can just look behind that anger or look underneath the anger, to find out where the pain is, we can deal with it differently.
A person who feels pain can respond in an unjustifiable way. People can also have unjustifiable expectations. A person can call me and get a response from my secretary that does not please him and he becomes mad at me. Sometimes people have expectations that they have no right to. Sometimes we create our own pain and disappointment by having illegitimate expectations.
We actually do offend people at times. There is a distinction between giving offense and taking offense. Sometimes we take offense when no offense has been made. And people will take offense on us, when we have done nothing to offend them. That is part of human nature. So when a person is offended they are hurt and often the response to pain is anger. We need to understand that.
There are a couple types of anger that I want to talk about. One is situational anger and misdirected anger. Let us begin by discussing misdirected anger. A guy has had a bad day, the boss chewed him out, he lost an account, and he dented his car on the way home, and he walks into his house and says to his wife, honey I really had a bad day darling, I hope you help me get over it.
That is not usually the way it works. Usually he comes in and kicks the dog and starts yelling at his wife and creates havoc in the household, because he has this build-up frustration and anger all day. He cannot afford to let it out at his boss or to his fellow employees so he stores it up and brings it to his home and pours it out on people that are unaware of the underlying frustrations.
It’s a close relative to situational anger where we blame people for things that are not caused by them but that happened by accident or something. You walk into your house and the curtain falls down from the wall and drops and gets ruined because the dog ran against it. And so you start yelling at each other about the curtain being ruined when neither one of you was responsible.
It was a situation that was difficult for everyone involved. That happens when people are held up in traffic, where the situation is frustrating for everyone involved and people that have no contributing cause for this, start getting mad at each other and start fighting with each other. We need to be alert to that so that anger is directed to the right place. And that it is controlled with the right spirit.
The Bible tells us how to deal with anger. We are also told to be people that not have a short fuse, meaning people that have patience. God gives us the Fruit of the Spirit, and one of that is self-control, where we discipline ourselves not to react in rage. God gives us an example of being long suffering, judgment time is prolonged to give time for more people to be saved.
Psalm 30:5 shows God’s attitude, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Colossians 3:8-9 says to us, “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.”
It is also dangerous to store up anger, because it is going to come out. And it is going to come out usually in a destructive way. Let it out by talking about it to people you respect. And so if we are people that want to deal with anger, we need the wisdom of God from His Word and we need the patience to look for the pain. Because it is a whole lot easier to respond to pain than to respond to anger.