If you’ve ever struggled with anger, then today’s message is for you, tune in for the next hour to be encouraged and grow in your relationship with Jesus. When you give at Harmony, you are investing in life change and are Advancing the Kingdom! GIVE TODAY, text any amount to (859) 459-0316 to get started (or give online @ my.harmonychurch.cc/give .
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OPENING ILLUSTRATION: It was a few months after my dad had died suddenly – an event that rocked my world. Two weeks after his death we had our third child – Parker – who brought a lot of joy into our lives, but I was still deeply grieving my dad’s loss and didn’t know how to express it. I was getting angry at stuff all the time. Finally, it came to a head. I was trying to feed Peter and Piper who were like 3 & 2 at the time. Parker was crying and Jenni was out grocery shopping or something. I was trying to get Piper to eat her sandwich I had made for her and she wasn’t having any of it – which is fine – she was just a baby. But I was so angry on the inside, and thankfully had the presence of mind to leave the situation. I went into the kid’s bedroom and punched the floor 3 or 4 times as hard as I could and I just stood there and wept…
Some of you know this level of anger. For me it was a new experience, I was typically a pretty calm level headed guy – but that loss triggered something in me
WE: We all experience anger at some point…-It may be anger over injustice-Anger over a spouse that broke your confidence and trust-Anger over being bullied at school
Anger is not a wrong or bad emotion, persistent unresolved anger is deadly.
ILLUSTRATION: 2 Samuel 2 & 3 tell a deadly story about persistent anger. It was during the time that King David from Israel’s history was establishing his Kingdom. The nation of Israel had divided over whether to follow David or not. David’s men were in pursuit of Abner (Saul’s head general) his men. There were three brothers who were the leaders of David’s army. Joab, Abashai, and Asahel.
David’s men had Saul’s men on the run. Asahel was chasing Abner. Abner kept warning him that if he kept trying to catch him that he would regret it. Finally, in a deft move, Abner thrust the end of his spear through Asahel and killed him. Everyone in David’s army walked by Asahael’s body and stopped at it. Joab, Asahel’s brother was infuriated.
Time passed and Abner’s started to realize that he was on the wrong side of history trying to stay loyal to Saul’s family. He made a plan to throw his weight behind David’s bid for kingship and essentially give him the throne. Abner had a meeting with David while Joab was away. Joab’s anger had been seething now for some time over the death of his brother. So, when he found out what had happened, he called Abner back for a secret meeting. In the room, all by themselves, Joab brought Abner near and stabbed him in the belly with a knife to be left to die
We don’t know exactly how this went down, but we do know from another incident in Joab’s life what it might have looked like. At another point, Joab thought a guy named Amasa was trying to get his position. Listen to the description of how vile Joab’s anger was:
2 Samuel 20:8-10 8 While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath.9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab’s hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri.
In Joab’s case, unresolved anger was literally deadly
But what about those of you? Is your anger killing something in you?
Are you able to have healthy, trusting relationships? Are you able to engage with God and feel good about it? Do you ever find yourself reacting in unreasonable ways towards situations because of past experience and the anger it brings up?
ILLUSTRATION: I’ve been in meetings where it starts going down a certain path that reminds me of a time when I really experienced some difficult conversations and I can feel my heart start beating, my throat tightens. My body remembers and starts to react with anger.
Did you know that in psychology they say that anger is a secondary emotion?
Anger is oftentimes an extension of fear or loss.
Take Joab, both times he stabbed someone in the gut were based in fear and loss. The first time was over the loss of his brother, the second time anger raged in him was over the fear of losing his position.
What about you?
What is it that triggers your anger?
When I have those moments where anger rises up in me, I’ve started to ask a really good question..
“What was that all about?”
This is a great question to ask in lots of situations where you react in a way that your will would reject.
you just raged on your kids over leaving the toilet seat up again, “what was that all about”
You just belittled your spouse and made hurtful comments about their weight, “what was that all about?”
you just DESTROYED a coworker in front of everyone else, “What was that all about?’
The reason you need to ask this question is because of what Paul said..
Eph. 4:26-27 26 “In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
Paul is giving examples of what a Christian who is living by the spirit of God looks like and he says that in your anger do not sin.
He doesn’t say not to be angry. He says don’t let anger lead to sin.
ILLUSTRATION: Jesus got angry. He would get angry at people having hard hearts and not acknowledging God, he got angry over the money changers selling in the temple.
So, don’t ever feel bad for being angry. What’s wrong is when anger turns to sin. It’s when anger becomes unresolved and turns toward vengeance, rage, and killing others in your heart.
That’s why stopping and asking “what was that all about?” is so important.-Because if you never get to the root of what’s causing your anger-you can’t find healing.
Paul actually says unresolved anger can become a foothold in your life for Satan to slip in.
ILLUSTRATION: You ever see your kids in a fight and one runs away from the other – they run to their room and go to slam the door to keep the other kids out. At the last second, the other kid sticks their foot in the door and keeps the door open. It’s usually all they need to get in.
Paul is saying when you have unresolved anger it allows Satan to get his foot in the door.
When Paul says to not let the sun go down on your anger – his advice is to not let anger from today live in your tomorrow
How many couples are living with unresolved anger? How many relationships can’t seem to move forward because there is a laundry list of “wrongs” that continually come up?
What would happen if you used your anger as a signaling device to signal that there is still more work for God to do in your heart?
Holding onto anger is a way of not forgiving and it will leave an open door for Satan to run your life.
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION: Years ago when I was a youth pastor, I had this kid in my youth group that I loved a lot. I’d take him out to eat and we’d talk about Jesus. I remember finally getting to the point where he was saying that he wanted to believe but just couldn’t. I asked him about that. Here’s what he said. He said, “Kent, I’ve wanted to accept Jesus so many times, but I just can’t give up hating my dad. I’ve had dreams of killing him and my stepmom and I’m afraid if I accept Jesus, I’d have to give up my hate.” We talked about that and I told him he was right, but that there was something so much better in Jesus than hate. It breaks my heart to think he never made that decision. Because hate and anger had become the only thing that he felt could get him through. It was a way of life for him. Let me just ask you, if you are here on a whim and you run off of anger, yelling rage. That anger may be a way of life, but does it feel like life or does it feel like death? It’s not really what you want, is it?
Listen to me, Jesus can heal what you have gone through. He’s not scared of it. He’s ready to restore your heart. It’s part of what He came to do
Isaiah 61:1The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
Ezekiel 36:26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Jesus didn’t just come to rescue you from your sin, He came to restore your heart as well.