Anger # 3 What to Do?

Eph 4:25-27

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

This message was preached January 19, 2003, at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at  

We have tried to address the causes of anger last Sunday. Anger can come from justifiable causes or no-justifiable cause. The causes of anger can be actual or perceived.

We have said that each of us have to deal with anger. The question we want to ask today is What to do with Anger?

First we want to ask, How do people respond to anger and then How should they respond to anger. Remember this is our response to our own anger as we feel it swelling up inside of us.

Gary R. Collins in his Christian Counseling, A Comprehensive Guide, gives this breakdown of how people handle anger.

Some people hold back, that is they simply withdraw from the situation trying to ignore their anger.

Others turn inward, that is they repress the anger and keep in within where it boils but only on the inside.

Other people act out their anger.

There are three primary ways of doing that; (first) by Direct Aggression. This is when they directly act out their aggression on the person or thing causing them to be angry.

Secondly some people act out their anger by Passive Aggression. This takes place in a more subtle way and may service in gossip, lying about the person, or in other ways, trying to get even.

Thirdly some people act out their anger by Redirecting the Aggression to someone or something else. When a person experiences anger outside the home, it is usually those in the home that receive the acting out of the redirected aggression.

These forms of "acting out are all ultimately destructive. They are forms of the eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth, get even philosophy that Jesus so clearly condemned."

The final way of dealing with anger is the Facing the Sources of the Anger approach. "This is an approach that attempts to deal directly with the threatening, incapacitation, or fear-producing situation that is causing the anger. The individual admits the anger, tries to see its causes, sometimes looks at the situation in a different way. And then does whatever seems best to accept or change the anger-producing situation." Christian Counseling, A Comprehensive Guide

Sometimes there are combinations of the above over a period of time in a person's life. Also many times people learn that their approach was not helping and move on to another. We hope to move each of us on to the final one mentioned. In this message I draw very heavily from Christian Counseling, A Comprehensive Guide by Gary Collins.

In our message I want to discuss these using the Bible as our Illustrator.

  1. Holding Back
    1. Today this might look like:
      1. Leaving the room, taking a vacation or just removing oneself from the situation at causes the anger.
      2. Avoiding problems by plunging into work or other activities.
      3. Hiding from the problem by alcohol or drug abuse
      4. Holding back anger can be healthy for a while. It gives the person time to reevaluate the situation and can prevent angry outbursts and the resulting quilt. When anger is ignored, however, it begins to affect us in other ways.
    2. Bible Examples
      1. 1 Sam 20:34 Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat all that day, for he was crushed by his father's shameful behavior toward David. (NLT)
        1. In this case Jonathan did not feel that he could confront his father, but still he was angry and held it in.
        2. We do not know if Saul could have ever changed, because he had many opportunities, but if anyone could have changed him, Jonathan was probably it.
      2. Gen 4:5 but he did not accept Cain and his offering. This made Cain very angry and dejected. (NLT) Hold back - Acting out Redirected Aggression
        1. Cain had every opportunity to repent and do what was right.
        2. Instead he held it in until his anger erupted against his brother in murder.
        3. Anger can only be contained so long without either blowing us up one the inside or erupting to someone else around us.
  2. Turning Inward
    1. Sometimes people force anger out of awareness and deny, consciously or unconsciously, that it even exists. This can be unhealthy and often results in other emotional or spiritual problems.
    2. There are not a lot of examples of this in the Bible.
      1. These cases are not seen unless the result becomes grave enough to ruin the person's health or ends up in a big blow us.
      2. Job 18:4 You may tear your hair out in anger, but will that cause the earth to be abandoned? Will it make rocks fall from a cliff? (NLT) Turning Inward
        1. As the verse states, this form of expression does not accomplish anything.
      3. Jonah 4:1 This change of plans upset Jonah, and he became very angry. (NLT) Turned inward
        1. Jonah was upset with God. He does not tell God but it is written all over Jonah's attitude.
        2. He is so upset by this unresolved anger that he wishes for death.
    3. In his book Gary Collins gives a whole list of results of this type of response to anger, none of which are good for us.
      1. Physical symptoms from head aches to heart attacks.
      2. Psychological reactions such as anxiety, fear, or feelings of tension and depression.
      3. Thinking characterized by self-pity, thoughts of revenge, or ruminations on the injustices that one is experiencing.
      4. Spiritual struggles such as bitterness, wrath, anger and slander, all that grieve the Holy Spirit.
  3. Acting Out
    1. Defined
      1. We must remember that anger and aggression are not the same although they often come together.
      2. Anger is an emotion while aggression is an action.
      3. It is possible to be angry and not be aggressive, but when anger leads to aggression that is called acting out.
    2. Direct aggression
      1. This is seen usually in violence, either verbally, or physically.
      2. Bible Examples
        1. Gen 34:7 He arrived just as Jacob's sons were coming in from the fields. They were shocked and furious that their sister had been raped. Shechem had done a disgraceful thing against Jacob's family, a thing that should never have been done. (NLT) Acting Out, Direct aggression
          1. Primarily two of Jacob's sons, Levi and Simeon were the culprits in this revengeful act.
          2. They persuaded the people of Shechem that they would give their sister in marriage when all the time they planned the execution of every male of the village.
        2. 2 Sam 12:5 David was furious. "As surely as the LORD lives," he vowed, "any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! (NLT) Acting Out, Direct Aggression
          1. Without hesitation David determined that the person so accused would be put to death.
          2. But of course David was the man.
        3. 2 Sam 13:22, 29 22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about it, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister. -- 29 So at Absalom's signal they murdered Amnon. Then the other sons of the king jumped on their mules and fled. NLT
          1. Amnon had raped Absalom's sister and dad had not done anything about it, which to Absalom was a great injustice.
          2. Absalom must have made everyone believe that he was not angry but he was working on a far larger plan, one that spanned over two years.
          3. We will see Absalom later because he is a very angry young man.
    3. Passive Aggression
      1. These people seem to be pleasent and even friend with those who they are angry at.
      2. But all the while they are secretly wageing a war against them.
      3. Children are often found to be of this type.
        1. They cannot only discuss problems with their parents.
        2. They cannot openly oppose their parents so they do in on the side.
        3. Even to the point of almost ruining their own lives just to get back at mom or dad.
      4. Bible Examples
        1. Neh 4:1 Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, (NLT) Acting out, Passive Aggression
        2. 2 Sam 15:2-7 2 He got up early every morning and went out to the gate of the city. When people brought a case to the king for judgment, Absalom would ask where they were from, and they would tell him their tribe. 3 Then Absalom would say, "You've really got a strong case here! It's too bad the king doesn't have anyone to hear it. 4 I wish I were the judge. Then people could bring their problems to me, and I would give them justice!" 5 And when people tried to bow before him, Absalom wouldn't let them. Instead, he took them by the hand and embraced them. 6 So in this way, Absalom stole the hearts of all the people of Israel. 7 After four years, . . . NLT
          1. In this case Absalom under cut the support of this father.
          2. Once again he was working on a long term plan to destroy his father David.
    4. Redirected Aggression
      1. Usually this is seen when the person the anger should be directed at is out of reach for one reason or another.
        1. Sometimes it might be a boss who could fire you.
        2. It might be the government or some other non touchable entity.
        3. In these cases, it is usually innocent victims that bear the brunt of the anger.
        4. We see this type in the riots that burn stores and one's own neighborhood because people are angry at someone else that they cannot touch.
      2. Bible Examples
        1. Rev 12:12 Rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea. For the Devil has come down to you in great anger, and he knows that he has little time." (NLT) Acting out, Redirected and Direct Aggression
          1. This is one of the best examples in the Bible.
          2. Ultimately Satan is angry at God but cannot touch God so he attempts to destroy God's people.
  4. Facing the Sources of Anger
    1. In this way the person attempts to deal directly with the threatening, incapacitating, or fear-producing situation that is causing the anger.
    2. This is God's way of dealing with those things that cause His wrath to be aroused.
      1. Jesus also took the same actions.
      2. Healing the man with the paralyzed hand.
      3. Driving out the offenders in the temple who had turned it into a market place
    3. Nehemiah was great for handling things that would have drove other men mad with rage.
      1. Neh 5:5-6 We belong to the same family, and our children are just like theirs. Yet we must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others." 6 When I heard their complaints, I was very angry. (NLT)
      2. Neh 13:17 So I confronted the leaders of Judah, "Why are you profaning the Sabbath in this evil way? (NLT)
      3. Neh 13:25 So I confronted them and called down curses on them. I beat some of them and pulled out their hair. I made them swear before God that they would not let their children intermarry with the pagan people of the land. (NLT)

I had hoped to get farther along today but time has run out. Next Sunday we plan on continuing this discussion with a proper response to anger.

Remember that if we want to escape the anger trap we must first admit the anger. Secondly we must want to change. I hope you want to change. I hope you desire to live in peace with family and friends. God will help you if you will surrender your anger to Him and listen to the ways of peace He has for you.

Below is a list of other passages that describe the anger of men and what category I think it belongs.

Gen 30:2 Acting out, direct aggression

2 Jacob flew into a rage. "Am I God?" he asked. "He is the only one able to give you children!" (NLT)

Gen 31:36 Acting out, direct aggression

36 Then Jacob became very angry. "What did you find?" he demanded of Laban. "What is my crime? You have chased me as though I were a criminal. (NLT)

Exod 11:8 Facing Sources of Anger

8 All the officials of Egypt will come running to me, bowing low. 'Please leave!' they will beg. 'Hurry! And take all your followers with you.' Only then will I go!" Then, burning with anger, Moses left Pharaoh's presence. (NLT)

Exod 32:19 Acting out, redirected aggression

19 When they came near the camp, Moses saw the calf and the dancing. In terrible anger, he threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain. (NLT)

Judg 14:19-20 Acting out, Redirected Aggression

19 Then the Spirit of the LORD powerfully took control of him. He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had answered his riddle. But Samson was furious about what had happened, and he went back home to live with his father and mother.

20 So his wife was given in marriage to the man who had been Samson's best man at the wedding. (NLT)

Esth 7:7 Acting out, Direct aggression

7 Then the king jumped to his feet in a rage and went out into the palace garden. But Haman stayed behind to plead for his life with Queen Esther, for he knew that he was doomed.

10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had set up for Mordecai, and the king's anger was pacified. (NLT)

Mark 3:5 Facing the Sources of Anger

5 He looked around at them angrily, because he was deeply disturbed by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, "Reach out your hand." The man reached out his hand, and it became normal again! (NLT)

Acts 17:16 Facing the Sources of Anger

16 {Paul Preaches in Athens--} While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. (NLT)

Acts 23:3 Facing the Sources of Anger

3 But Paul said to him, "God will slap you, you whitewashed wall! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?" (NLT)

Gen 27:41 Acting out, direct Aggression

41 {Jacob Flees to Paddan-Aram--} Esau hated Jacob because he had stolen his blessing, and he said to himself, "My father will soon be dead and gone. Then I will kill Jacob." (NLT)

Gen 39:19 Acting out, direct aggression

19 {Joseph Put in Prison--} After hearing his wife's story, Potiphar was furious! (NLT)

Gen 49:5-7 Acting out, direct aggression

5 "Simeon and Levi are two of a kind-- men of violence.

6 O my soul, stay away from them. May I never be a party to their wicked plans. For in their anger they murdered men, and they crippled oxen just for sport.

7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; cursed be their wrath, for it is cruel. Therefore, I will scatter their descendants throughout the nation of Israel. (NLT)

Num 20:10 Acting out, Redirected Aggression

10 Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. "Listen, you rebels!" he shouted. "Must we bring you water from this rock?" Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So all the people and their livestock drank their fill. (NLT)

Num 22:27 Acting out, Direct Aggression

27 This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat it again with his staff. (NLT)

Num 24:10 Acting out, Direct Aggression

10 King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, "I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. (NLT)

1 Sam 20:30 Acting out, Direct Aggression

30 Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? (NIV)

1 Sam 25:17 Turned Inward

17 You'd better think fast, for there is going to be trouble for our master and his whole family. He's so ill-tempered that no one can even talk to him!" (NLT)

Esth 1:12 Acting out, Direct Aggression

12 But when they conveyed the king's order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger. (NLT)

Esth 3:5 Acting out, Passive and then Direct Aggression

5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. (NLT)

Esth 5:9 Acting out, Passive and then Direct Aggression

9 {Haman's Plan to Kill Mordecai--} What a happy man Haman was as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, he was furious. (NLT)

Dan 2:12 Acting out, Direct Aggression

12 The king was furious when he heard this, and he sent out orders to execute all the wise men of Babylon. (NLT)

Acts 7:54 Acting out, Direct Aggression

54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen's accusation, and they shook their fists in rage. (NLT)