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Posts Tagged ‘danger of anger’

Anger is something we all struggle with, and it can really damage and destroy our relationships with each other. It also is a false substitute for the process of dealing with those who have offended you. Instead of going to the offender in love and seeking peace, as Jesus teaches, we go in anger to verbally (or otherwise) punish them. So today we look at the danger of anger and next week, Lord willing, righteous anger.

James 1:19-20 says, “Know this, my beloved sisters and brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Anger is meant to lead us to righteousness

Anger is a God given desire for justice; that things be done rightly and fairly. This is the way that God has made us to function. It arises when we think that we or others have been wronged in some way. And it prompts us to act to make things right. God gave this to us to promote righteousness. It is meant to lead to the pointing out and correction of injustice

However, our anger often leads us to sin. There is a paradox here, for even though it is meant to promote righteousness, our anger often does not promote true righteousness. As James 1:20 says, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Why? 1) Anger is difficult to control. It is explosive, like a fire that quickly rages out of control. As Proverbs 27:4 says, anger is “overwhelming.” We become angry but can’t control our anger. 2) Our anger is often guided by our own distorted sense of what God wants us to do. It stirs us up – but to do what? We often have a warped understanding of justice that turns our behavior into hateful vengeance. And as Christians, we often forget the way of Jesus and ignore God’s call to mercy, love of enemies and forgiveness. Instead, in our anger, we seek to punish others.

So, in the hands of self-centered, weak humans (like all of us) anger leads us not to do God’s righteousness – but to do our own unrighteousness. Proverbs 29:22 says,  “one given to anger causes much transgression.” Psalm 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”

Examples of how anger often leads us to sin against others

1) Instead of loving others – it can lead us to murder – Genesis 4:5-7. Cain felt he had been wronged when God did not accept his offering, but did accept his brother’s. This made him angry. He did not control his anger and it led him to murder his brother. 

2) Instead of building up others – it can lead us to tear down others with our words – Matthew 5:22. “. . . Whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Jesus teaches here that angry words that tear down, simple insults and expressions of judgment, are also a form of murder. They are also a breaking of the sixth commandment

3) Instead of living in peace with each other – it leads to quarreling and strife.  Proverbs 15:18 says, “A hot-tempered person stirs up strife.” Anger often leaves in its wake wounded people and broken relationships.

4) Instead of kindness to others – it leads us to be cruel in our words and actions – Proverbs 27:4. Our anger makes us say things and do things that are extreme and cruel to others – things we wouldn’t do and say if we were not angry.

5) Instead of being willing to love and forgive – it leads us to hold on to bitterness. Bitterness is an unwillingness to forgive. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you.” Notice the connection between bitterness and anger is this verse.

6) Instead of acts of love for others – it leads us to do acts of malice. Malice has to do with acts of hatred towards others. This also comes from Ephesians 4:31, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

Not only does it destroy our relationships with others . . .

Unrighteous anger destroys our relationship with God

We cannot be in right relationship with God, when we are not in right relationship with others. This is a principle that the NT teaches. We see this in the following.

1) It blocks our ability to be in relationship with God.  I Timothy 2:8 says, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” It is inconsistent to pray when there is quarreling and unresolved anger – as if nothing is wrong. Matthew 5:24 teaches us to first be reconciled to the one you have offended by your angry words, before you come to worship God. We must deal with those we have wounded through our anger first

2) It leads to our condemnation before God. Galatians 5:19-21 teaches that outbursts of anger are works of the flesh. It then goes on to say, “Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you must get rid of all such things – anger, wrath . . ..” These things are a part of our old life that is to die. In verse 6 Paul says, “on account of these things the wrath of God is coming.” Our sinful anger lead to an outbreak of God’s righteous anger. Matthew 5:22 teaches that even simple words of angry insult like “you fool,” will lead to our condemnation before God as a breaking of the sixth commandment.

The danger of anger

What I’m saying is that anger is so hard to control, so easily corruptible, so easily leads us to sin, and the consequences are so grave – we must beware!

1) Anger is so dangerous . . . If we are angry, we must be very careful for sin. As Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry, but do not sin.”

2) Anger is so dangerous . . . We should not befriend someone who cannot control their anger. Proverbs 22:24 says – “Make no friendship with a person given to anger, nor go with a wrathful person.”

3) Anger is do dangerous . . . We should be careful not to provoke others to anger – which could cause them to stumble into sinful anger.  Ephesians 6:4 says,  “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger . . ..” This admonition can certainly be more broadly applied in other relationships.

Conclusion

Next week we’ll talk about righteous anger – What anger looks like when it is not out of control; when it has not forgotten Jesus’ call to love our enemies; when it is not busy destroying our relationships with others and with God. But for today I want us to hear, and take home, and ponder the serious warnings in the scriptures about the dangers of anger – that we should beware!

William Higgins

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