Avoiding Anger

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 February 2, 2003, at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at toulonbaptist.com  

A boy once asked, "Dad, how do wars begin?"

"Well, take the First World War," said his father. "That got started when Germany invaded Belgium."

Immediately his wife interrupted him: "Tell the boy the truth. It began because somebody was murdered." The husband drew himself up with an air of superiority and snapped back, "Are you answering the question, or am I." Turning her back upon him in a huff, the wife walked out of the room and slammed the door as hard as she could.

When the dishes stopped rattling in the cupboard, an uneasy silence followed, broken at length by the son when he said, "Daddy, you don't have to tell me any more; I know now." (1)

  1. Avoiding People & Places of Anger
    1. Story of small dog that always attacked much larger dogs and always got whipped. His owner said he was not so much a poor fighter as a poor judge of dogs.
    2. If you get angry at football games, don't go.
      1. As a Christian you should be able to reason it is only a game.
      2. A rule "Don't get angry about anything that won't matter 100 years from now."
    3. If you get angry at work, find a different job.
      1. You do need to know that if the real problem is you then changing jobs will only put different names on the same old problems.
        1. A postal worker that I once knew quite his job because the people at work were sinful and kept him from living a Christian life.
        2. J.S.
  2. Learn Self-Control
    1. Grow Spiritually Gal 5:22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. NLT
      1. Children come int tot world with no self control
      2. Sometimes they do not lean much as they grow older.
      3. If at twenty, you get upset with what upset you when you were three then you're in trouble.
      4. But our society also does not encourage self control.
      5. But self control is a work of the Spirit of God in us.
        1. Paul tells us that athletes practice self control.
        2. 1 Cor 9:25 All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. NLT
        3. But they will only receive a temporary reward, but we are looking for an eternal prize.
      6. And we are never too old to learn.
        1. Titus 2:2 Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have strong faith and be filled with love and patience. NLT
    2. The ultimate reason for self-control is found in Gal 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. NLT
      1. True Christians have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.
      2. Once someone has died they do not stir up trouble any more.
      3. Also if you are dead, nothing can bother you any more.
      4. When I died in Jesus Christ I surrendered all my own rights to Him, v-24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
      5. Ultimate self control is Holy Spirit control v-25 If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. NLT
        1. "Let us show in our lives and conversation that the Spirit of God dwells in us." Clarke
        2. Not by living out the desires of the flesh v-19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, 20 idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
        3. But by giving our lives over to the Spirit's control v-22-23 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. NLT
    3. Slowing reactions
      1. Slowing down helps us gain control.
      2. Remember a soft answer calms tempers while a harsh answer will only increase anger. Prov. 15:1
    4. Work to maintain a calm spirit
      1. Some people are always on the brink of explosion.
      2. Try to not expect negative words or actions from others.
      3. Expect the best and not the worse from people.
      4. Have an attitude that is surprised by harshness rather than expecting it.
    5. Say "I" instead of "you"
      1. I feel angry rather than you make me angry.
      2. I am stressed, not you always do this to me.
      3. The I statements cannot be denied and lead top discussion.
      4. You statements only set the parties at each other in defense.
  3. Build a healthy self concept
    1. Sometimes when people are easily angered it says more about how they view themselves than what others are doing.
      1. People who feel inferior are much more easily offended.
      2. They are expecting to be attacked or demeaned and they are overly ready.
      3. When we find ourselves often defending ourselves, it might just be that we have a lower view of ourselves than anyone else does.
    2. Christians take a realistic view of themselves.
      1. We know we are sinners.
      2. We know we are affected by pride.
      3. But also we know that Jesus died to redeems us, make us His children a and to give us a worth we do not merit.
      4. On that basis we know our own self-worth as determined by the Almighty God.
  4. Learn conflict resolution
    1. Conflicts can be resolved when people look for solutions rather than placing blame.
    2. Tell people how you feel and what they did.
    3. Speak the truth in love Eph 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ - NKJV
  5. Avoid Rumination
    1. Comes from the word meaning to chew the cud.
    2. I heard one preacher refer to this as stinking thinking.
    3. The Bible tells us what we are to think about.
      1. Phil 4:8 Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. NLT

"don't sin by letting anger gain control over you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.

On February 16 we will begin a series on finding Peace in a Stressful World.

1. 1Green, Michael P., Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House) 1989.