A young girl who was writing a paper for school came to her father and asked, "What’s the difference between anger and annoyance?" Her father replied, "It’s mostly a matter of degree. I’ll show you." He picked up his phone and dialed a number at random. When someone answered, he said, "Hello, is Melvin there?" "There is no one living here named Melvin.” “Okay, thanks." “Now watch...." The father dialed the same number again. "Hello, is Melvin there?" "You just called and asked me that. I told you that there is no Melvin here!” “Are you sure?” “Of course I’m sure!" The receiver slammed down hard. The father turned to his daughter and said, "You see, that man is annoyed. Now I’ll show you what anger means." He dialed the same number, and when the man answered, the father calmly said, "Hello, this is Melvin. Have there been any calls for me?"
Why do we study the Bible? To increase our knowledge about the things of God. To gain insight into how we are to live in light of all God has done for us. Paul tells Timothy: 2Tim 3:17 so that the person of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Sometimes that good work is hard work, requiring us to go against the current of our own desires.
2Tim 2:24-26 The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
Those given to outbursts of anger are being held captive by Satan to do his will.
How can a Christian be held captive by Satan to do his will? We do the will of whomever or whatever we give our hearts to. Matt 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Heart: the control center of life.
The question today: what if we’re on the receiving end of that anger?
Rom 12:18-19 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.
God has placed us in a quite vulnerable spot. Instead of fighting back against those whose actions offend us, we are to seek peace within ourselves. Why? Because the typical reaction to an angry person is to get angry. And James told us last week: James 1:20 the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
Why leave vengeance to the Lord? Simple: we lack insight as to what’s behind their actions. Someone consumed with rage isn’t just upset at what’s going on in the present moment. Their anger is the product of a life that’s been compromised by Satan’s snares.
Paul says we are to act opposite to what’s going on. Don’t quarrel, be kind, patient, gentle. And perhaps, by that approach, God may regain a foothold into their lives to draw them to repent, and if they repent, they may open themselves up to the truth. When they do, they will come to their senses and slip out of the snare by which the devil has captured their heart.
Prov 22:24-25 Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.
That’s wise and practical advice, but really hard if you’re married to them or work for them. So, from the side of living with or relating to an angry person, let’s find some help.
Recognize the danger of adopting their angry spirit. How?
· Matching their volume in arguments – staying calm is the hardest thing to do in the heat of an argument.
o Takes one to assault – if they do call the police
o Takes two to fight
· Going defensive – acting against the offense to keep them from winning
· Attacking instead of understanding – knee-jerk reaction
· Harboring resentment that gets buried inside our opinion of them
· Keeping our own embers hot because the argument never gets resolved.
Now, some people are contentious: meaning they attempt to force their will on another person without regard to the other person’s perspective, feelings or sense of right or wrong.
· Prov 21:9 It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
· Prov 21:19 It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.
· Prov 26:21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
· Prov 27:15-16 A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike; he who would restrain her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand.
Contend: to engage in a competition or campaign in order to win or dominate.
Solomon’s advice: Refuse to go there. Stop the quarrel before it becomes contentious. How? Become aware when things start spiraling out of control and before strife comes.
· DISCUSSION – sharing opinions Prov 15:22 Without consultation plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.
· DISAGREEMENT – acknowledging differences Prov 18:17 The first to plead his case seems just until another comes and examines him.
· DEBATE – attempting to persuade – goal is to win Prov 18:1 He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom.
o To have a winner you must also have a loser.
Here’s where contention come in – pulling into sides: me against them
· ARGUMENT – to win at all costs Prov 18:2 A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.
· FIGHT – to hurt the other intentionally Prov 29:22 An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression. Crossing the line.
So, what does Solomon tell us to do:
· Prov 17:27 He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is man of understanding.
· Prov 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.
Restraining and guarding are our methods for diffusing a situation.
But we don’t start by trying to diffuse them, we start with us. Like the little cup that drops down from the ceiling of the airplane if the plane loses pressure: place it on yourself first. Leave it off them until they pass out.
· Keep or get yourself under control. Pray for wisdom, strength and the filling of the Spirit of God.
· Get your responses from the insight God gives.
· Let love dominate. Prov 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions. 1Pe 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
· Commit your ways to the Lord – trust in Him: Isa 26:3 The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.
o Steadfast: braced against, leaning upon, stabilized by
o You can be at peace even in an unpeaceful environment.
· When things calm down, ask why until you understand. Why were you upset? Why is that a problem? Then ask what. What can we do about it?
CAN FEELINGS BE CONTROLLED?
“You can’t tell me how to feel,” the little girl shouted as she plopped down in the aisle of the store. “I’m not telling you how to feel,” her mother said. “I am telling you how to behave. And how you are behaving is completely out of line.”
There is an assumption that emotions are not controllable which gives us permission to express them. This mother took a different approach. She knew she couldn’t change the emotions, but she could affect the behavior prompted by the emotions. A lot of kid’s behavior could be adjusted if we would just reinstate motivational force.
Emotions are involuntary. We don’t plan our emotions. We don’t generate emotions. Emotions just come. Anger, empathy, fear, joy, sadness, anxiety all happen. We can’t turn them on nor can we simply turn them off. But what can we do? Take ownership of them and not let them take ownership over us. Just because I feel anger doesn’t mean I have to act out those feelings. Scripture helps us:
· Phil 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
· Ps 56:3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
· 2Co 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction
To every emotion that can control us, God has a provision to help us counter that emotion.
The little girl may feel justified to show anger toward her mother for not buying her the Pink Unicorn backpack, but lying on the floor screaming isn’t the appropriate way to express her frustration.
An author quoted C.S. Lewis: “The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it.” Then went on to say: “As the cauldron begins to brew, something inside should say: “How I’m tempted to express my feelings right now is completely out of line.”
Can we re-train our emotions?
Interesting how we learn things to fear and not fear. We discover appropriate words and inappropriate words. We find out what are good habits and bad habits. We can also learn right and wrong ways to deal with our anger. Eph 4:26-27 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
When does anger become a sin? When we act on it inappropriately.
To adjust how we act, go back to the heart. What fills our heart is what’s going to slosh out. The devil is trying to influence us to react. God is motivating us to respond. We get to choose. That should be great news! We are no longer slaves to our emotions.
Rom 6:6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
Members of a Jewish Synagogue in Pittsburgh traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, to meet with a Christian Church. Both had experienced similar tragedy. The Jewish group wanted to learn how to forgive and heal. Last October, 11 people were shot and killed at the Synagogue, and in June 2015, nine people were killed during a Bible study at the church in Charleston.
Polly, one of the Christian ladies who survived the attack, told the Pittsburgh group they would have to forgive. “It’s a choice,” she said. “Either you forgive or you don’t, but if you carry it with you, there’s no healing. It’s like on a battery. Once it builds up, the car won’t move.”
Lack of forgiveness or unwillingness to get over hurts keeps the embers hot enough to easily rekindle the flames of anger. Best thing we can do: Forgive, then devote ourselves to looking out for the interest of others.
Phil 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Even though we can’t fix them, we can remain faithful to who we are as Children of God regardless of the choices they make. As far as it depends on us, we can be at peace. Maybe not with them, but within our own hearts and before God.
Though Peter was writing this to the wives, it can apply to anyone: 1Pet 3:1 even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by your actions, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
- Remaining calm when those around us are losing it requires great control.
- The first objective in dealing with someone else’s anger is not to become angry ourselves.
- Since we don’t always carry that control in our bag of tricks, we must practice yielding to the evidence of the Holy Spirit within us.
- When we become engaged in fighting over personal interests, we lose the ability to care about what’s best.
- What’s at stake? Giving the devil the opportunity to gain advantage over us.