Sermon Notes: Dealing with Anger

Common causes of anger

  • Stress.
  • Not feeling appreciated or treated fairly.
  • Financial challenges.
  • Work or relationship issues.
  • Car accidents or bad traffic.
  • Violence or abuse.

When is it Good

  • There is a type of anger of which the Bible approves, often called “righteous indignation.”
  • God is angry (Psalm 7:11; Mark 3:5),
  • it is acceptable for believers to be angry (Ephesians 4:26).
  • Two Greek words in the New Testament are translated as “anger.”
    • One means “passion, energy”
    • the other means “agitated, boiling.”
  • Biblically, anger is God-given energy intended to help us solve problems.
  • Examples of biblical anger include
    • David’s being upset over hearing Nathan the prophet sharing an injustice (2 Samuel 12)
    • Jesus’ anger over how some of the Jews had defiled worship at God’s temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-18).
    • Notice that neither of these examples of anger involved self-defense, but a defense of others or of a principle.

When is it Bad

Anger can become sinful when

  • It is motivated by pride (James 1:20),
  • when it is unproductive and thus distorts God’s purposes (1 Corinthians 10:31), or when anger is allowed to linger (Ephesians 4:26-27).
  • One obvious sign that anger has turned to sin is when, instead of attacking the problem at hand, we attack the wrongdoer.
  • Ephesians 4:15-19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips.
  • Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of fallen man (Romans 3:13-14).
  • Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied (Proverbs 29:11), leaving devastation in its wake.
  • Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified
    • holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside (Ephesians 4:26-27).
  • This can cause depression and irritability over little things, which are often unrelated to the underlying problem.

How to Handle

Ephesians 4:26‭-‬27‭, ‬29‭-‬32 NIV  26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

We can handle anger biblically by

  • recognizing and admitting our prideful anger and/or our wrong handling of anger as sin (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9).
  • This confession should be both to God and to those who have been hurt by our anger. We should not minimize the sin by excusing it or blame-shifting.

We can handle anger biblically by

  • seeing God in the trial. This is especially important when people have done something to offend us. James 1:2-4, Romans 8:28-29, and Genesis 50:20 all point to the fact that God is sovereign over every circumstance and person that crosses our path. Nothing happens to us that He does not cause or allow.
  • Though God does allow bad things to happen,
  • He is always faithful to redeem them for the good of His people. God is a good God (Psalm 145:8, 9, 17).
  • Reflecting on this truth until it moves from our heads to our hearts will alter how we react to those who hurt us.

We can handle anger biblically by

  • making room for God’s wrath. This is especially important in cases of injustice, when “evil” men abuse “innocent” people. Genesis 50:19 and Romans 12:19 both tell us to not play God. God is righteous and just, and we can trust Him who knows all and sees all to act justly (Genesis 18:25).

We can handle anger biblically by

  • returning good for evil (Genesis 50:21; Romans 12:21). This is key to converting our anger into love. As our actions flow from our hearts, so also our hearts can be altered by our actions (Matthew 5:43-48). That is, we can change our feelings toward another by changing how we choose to act toward that person.

We can handle anger biblically by

  • communicating to solve the problem. There are four basic rules of communication shared in Ephesians 4:15, 25-32: