Dealing With Anger 1

Ephesians 4:25-27

 

25So put away all falsehood and "tell your neighbor the truth" because we belong to each other. 26And "don't sin by letting anger gain control over you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil. NLT

This message was preached January 12, 2003 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at toulonbaptist.com  

Last week we saw that anger is a common characteristic of the human race. We discussed how that God is often spoken as being angry and even Jesus was angry on several occasions.

So human anger is normal and is not necessarily sinful. We also discussed that although God's anger is always a matter of His holiness and justice, our anger is often a result from a faulty perception. Sometimes, even when we have a right to be angry we do not know all the facts of the situation. And then again we are lead by past experience and our own prejudices.

Therefore human anger often leads to sin. That is obvious, for Paul here cautions us against just that. So it seems that anger can be controlled.

This morning we want to look at what causes us to get angry and what effect does anger have on us.

  1. The Cause of Anger

If we were asked what it is that makes us angry, each one would have a different story to tell. Sometimes we are angry after we have tried unsuccessfully to accomplish something. Others might get angry when they feel people are invading their space and disturbing their plans. Most of us feel angry when we are attacked either verbally or physically or even stealthily. We often get angry when we feel people are trying to manipulate us or trying to make us feel guilty.

Jesus Himself was angry when he saw the uncaring religious leaders of the day. He was also angered by the inappropriate behavior of the people who had come to worship God.

  1. Origins of anger.
    1. According the Freud anger is an innate biological drive that can be aroused by a hostile environment. This instinct view leaves little real hope for overcoming justifiable and non-justifiable anger.
    2. On the other hand the frustration-aggression approach assumes that anger and aggression always come in response to frustration. This view salves anger by removing all the sources of frustration.
    3. Then there is the social learning approach that see anger as an emotional state of arousal that comes because of frustration but can be expressed in a variety of ways depending on the person's perceptions and past learning. To these people the answer is education and a good environment.
    4. The Biblical approach is that anger originated with God and is a part of our created makeup. That it was a completely good characteristic before the fall but since then, like all other aspects of our existence has degenerated.
  2. A summary of causes of anger:
    1. Biology: In his book Christian Counseling, Gary Collins tells of a small boy who was good until without provocation he would become violent. After some time it was determined that when he ate bananas the caused a chemical imbalance in the brain and cause him to act out of character.
    2. Injustice: since this is one of the things that causes God to display His anger, it has a sense of correctness about it.
      1. What is not understood is that it does not have to be a actual case of injustice but only perceived injustice.
      2. In the middle east suicide bombers act out of a perceived or educated injustice.
      3. Most often when we see Jesus angry, this is the cause.
      4. Most often in the Old Testament it is injustice that brings God's anger and judgment.
    3. Frustration: do I need to explain what this is?
      1. In our day to day lives I think this is the most general cause of anger.
      2. We are trying to get something done and things just do not go right. After repeated failures our anger is aroused and although there is not anyone to be angry at, we are angry just the same.
      3. We also often get frustrated with people. We think they should know what they don't and should be able to do what they can't and we have told them a million times, or we have picked that coat up for the 100th time today.
      4. Depending upon your patience level things beyond your control will cause a anger response as the severity and frequency and length of the frustration increases.
    4. Threat and Hurt: Anger is often aroused when a person perceives that he or she is rejected, put down, ignored, humiliated, unjustly criticized, or otherwise threatened.
      1. Now some people are not as affected as others in this area.
      2. Depending on how you perceive yourself, you will be bothered by what others think of you.
      3. It is how we handle these types of encounters that will determine how well we handle our anger.
      4. Sometimes people say, I don't get angry, I just get even. But that is a lie. If you are trying to get even you are angry and really are not handling it very well.
      5. The number of cases of this in the Bible are many. When you see someone acting inappropriately you know that either it comes from someone threatening or hurting them or their actions will cause the same in another.
    5. Learning: studies have shown that anger is affected by what you have learned about the expression of anger.
      1. Most of the time when a parents have trouble with a teenager who is controlled by anger, one of the parents ahs a problem with anger.
      2. In the Quaker communities, because of the stress on not acting out anger, children do not learn to respond inappropriately.
      3. That does not mean they never have a problem with anger because remember anger is a part of our make up.
      4. Nor is it necessarily healthy to suppress unresolved anger for expend periods.
      5. Prov 22:24-25 Keep away from angry, short-tempered people, 25 or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul. NLT
      6. Every parent knows that even anger can be a learned behavior.
      7. And there are many groups that are teaching anger.
      8. In some parts of the world the children are taught to hate and be angry before they learn how to read.

Although we cannot control the cause of anger we can control our response. It is important for us to know what it is that "sets us off" but in reality we have a responsibility to handle anger as a Christian.

Prov 14:29 A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. (from New International Version)

Prov 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (from New International Version)

Prov 29:20 Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (from New International Version)

Prov 29:22 An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. (from New International Version)

in dealing with anger in your life you must first admit the anger.

Second you must want to change. Change does not take place in a persons life unless there is first the desire to change.

If you thank that your anger is all someone's or something's fault beyond you, then you will not change. It is not until you take ownership for your actions that real change can take place.

Next week we will talk about the response to anger. The cause we cannot change, but the response we can.