Senin, 07 Desember 2009
BEEING GOOD AND ANGRY
Being Good and Angry
By Jason Freeman
Growing up one of my favorite TV shows was the, "The Incredible Hulk." The main character was a scientist named Dr. David Banner. Most of the time he was a nice guy. But when he become angry he would repeat those famous words, “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I am angry.” And if the person ignored his warning right before your eyes he would transform into Lou Ferrigno, this big green monster.
The whole series was built around Dr. Banners search for a cure. Dr. Banner didn’t like what anger did to him and he did all he could to prevent it from happening.
The message many got from the series is that anger is always bad, anger can turn a normal person into a monster. Anger can turn you into someone you don’t want to be. As a result the best way of dealing with anger is to never express it, because anger can be so volatile the best way to manage anger is to repress it. And that is how many deal with anger today.
However in Ephesians 4, God gives us a different way of looking at anger. Instead of dismissing anger as evil, Paul tells us that anger can be a good and healthy emotion. Anger itself is not wrong, it is the reasons and motivations for our anger that cause us to lose control.
Let me share with you six ways to look at anger. The first three are positive descriptions of anger and the last three describe what happens when anger takes control.
1. Anger is a normal emotion. (26)
26 "In your anger do not sin": (NIV)
26 Be angry BUT do not sin; (RSV)
26 Be ye angry, AND sin not: (KJV)
The point is it is possible to be angry and not sin. Anger in and of itself is not bad, God created anger for a good purpose – with good intentions.
You might remember the story of Jesus entering the temple. When Jesus saw what the religious leaders had done to corrupt the temple, Jesus became angry. His anger was not directed at hurting people but at the wrong things they had done in God’s name. Jesus was angry because the people had violated God and His anger was an expression of God’s anger. Jesus demonstrates that it is possible to be angry and not sin. There is such a thing as good anger or Godly anger.
The question we need to ask is: What did Jesus do that allowed Him to express His anger in healthy ways?
The answer is found in His focus. Jesus never allowed His emotions or pain to take His focus off of God and onto himself. Jesus was able to keep God as His first priority even when He was angry.
Our problem is we seldom become angry for the right reasons or motives. Human anger tends to be self-motivated rather than God-motivated. We become angry when someone does something that hurts us or hurts someone we love. Human anger is generally an offensive weapon we use to defend our pride.
As a result, Anger is like a fire. If the fire is controlled, it can be helpful and productive but if the fire gets out of control it can be harmful and deadly. Anger is the same way! Though anger is a natural emotion, we must be careful how we use it because it can have devastating effects.
Aristotle said it this way, “Anybody can become angry… But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - this is not within everybody’s power….”
In other words anger is a normal emotion, but we must be very careful how we express it.
2. Anger is a WARNING light built in by God. (26)
26 "In your anger…do not sin":
We can get into trouble when we ignore the signs of anger. When we ignore the warning lights that lead to anger we can find ourselves in a place we never intended to be.
When I was a new driver I developed a bad habit. Instead of filling up when the gas light came on, I would ignore the warning and see how far I could get. Now, most of the time I would fill-up right before the car stopped running; but what do you do when you run out of gas on the way to your wedding? Even though I had been reminded many times, I ignored the warning and I ignored the signs that indicated trouble is near. As a result I walked the last mile to the church in my tuxedo.
Now maybe you are better than I am when it comes to responding to warning lights, but how well do you respond to anger? How well do you anticipate the things that cause anger? How well do you keep your anger from getting out of control?
God designed anger to be a flashing light yellow light – to say to us - proceed with caution, be aware, know that trouble is near. So when the light comes on – don’t ignore it. Don’t think it will just go away.
3. Anger must be RESOLVED. (End, 26)
26 “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”
Anger can be a healthy emotion but it is not designed to be a permanent emotion.
When Jesus became angry in the temple and turned over the tables of the money changers, He did not remain angry. After the event He didn’t dwell on what happened, He didn’t allow His anger with the people to impact His love for people.
Look at how Matthew records the events in chapter 21,
“12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 "It is written," he said to them, "’My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ’den of robbers.’" 14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.”
Circle the words, AT THE TEMPLE.
I don’t know about you but when I get angry I have a hard time letting go. When I get angry my anger generally gets the best of me, it can ruin an entire day. Anger can cause me to become a person I don’t want to be, it can cause me to say things I didn’t want to say.
I read the results of a study that demonstrates the effects of anger. The researchers found that anger causes the average female’s blood pressure to rise 6 points and the average male’s blood pressure to rise 14 points. It also indicated that unresolved anger is the number one cause for psychological depression. The point is, when we get angry, anger takes control.
But when Jesus became angry He remained the same person, He did not lose control. His anger did not have a negative impact on His character or cause Him to say the wrong things. He went from anger to mercy in the same day. His anger was motivated by His love for people and never became a vehicle for harboring resentment. Anger must be resolved.
4. Unresolved anger is an open INVITATION for evil. (27-28)
27 “and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. When anger gets a foothold in your life, you are more susceptible to doing things you would not normally do – even stealing. Paul is addressing a real problem that was happening in his churches. Because the people were angry at each other they stopped caring and started stealing. Anger caused them to lose their concern for the community and start focusing instead on themselves.
Unresolved anger causes us to ask: What is best for me? Anger makes us more aware of what we need and less concerned about what is right or best for others.
Proverbs 14:17 17 A quick-tempered man does foolish things..
Proverbs 29:22 22 A hot-tempered person starts fights and gets into all kinds of sin.
You might remember the story of Cain and Able. Cain became angry at Able because God valued Able’s offering above Cain’s. When God noticed the anger that was building in Cain’s heart God warned him in Genesis 4,
6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
Instead of listening to God Cain allowed his anger to get the best of Him and it resulted in the death of his brother. I imagine Cain’s first thought was not to kill his brother. It was only after anger took control that he did what he normally would not do. Unresolved anger turned a bitter Cain into a killer.
A very similar event happened in the life of Alexander the Great. Though Alexander literally conquered the world he was unable to control his anger. Alexander had a friend and a general in his army named Cletus. On one occasion Cletus became drunk and ridiculed the emperor in front of his men. Blinded by his anger Alexander snatched a spear and threw it at Cletus. Though he had intended to scare him the spear took the life of his childhood friend. As a result Alexander was overcome with guilt and attempted to take his own life. History records that Alexander feel into a deep depression and laid in bed for days calling for his friend.
One historian writing about this event said, “Alexander the Great conquered many countries, but he failed miserably to conquer his own self.” (Lutzer)
When anger gets a hold on your life you are prone to doing things you will later regret.
5. Unresolved anger is LETHAL when molded into words. (29)
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.”
Quick and careless words cause more damage to people than any other known force in the world. When we allow unresolved anger to build within us it will eventually explode into harmful words.
Every year many people are killed all over the world by unexploded bombs. I recently read that hundreds of pounds of explosives are recovered every year in France alone. Many of these bombs were dropped in WWI and II and are now turning up all across Europe. They fell harmlessly from the sky but over the years their contents have sat exposed to the elements. With time and corrosion they have become more and more dangerous, any slight movement could set them off.
There are many people who are like those aging land mines. When anger lingers in the human heart any small problem can set it off, resulting in lethal words. Words that destroy relationships and damage lives.
6. Unresolved anger DISTANCES us from God. (30)
30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit lives in you. But when you allow anger to build up in your life it repels the influence of the Spirit. The Spirit still lives in you but your anger is keeping Him from working fully in your life.
Imagine it this way - Let’s say someone is teaching you to play the piano. You start off with a great deal of enthusiasm and energy and make some real progress in a short period of time. Then after a few months you get distracted, you stop practicing and you forget why you started playing in the first place. Your teacher begins to notice that your playing is suffering and he asks you, “Are you sure you want to play the piano?” You say, “Yes”, but over the next few weeks you continue to ignore what you have learned.
How long do you think your teacher is going to invest into you when you fail to practice what you have learned? The answer is not very long.
Well the Holy Spirit works in a similar way. When we fail to put into practice the things the Spirit is teaching us, the Spirit takes a step back in our lives. His voice becomes silent and His influence less evident. Though the Spirit never leaves us, His power does.
Unresolved anger blocks the impact of the Spirit in our lives. Anger limits how God can use us and keeps us from becoming the person God designed us to be.
Summary: Anger is a normal emotion. God designed anger for a good purpose – anger serves as a warning light. A warning light that must be resolved. When anger is not resolved it can result in doing things we normally would not do, saying things we normally would not say and broken fellowship with God.
Now that we have looked at anger more closely, I want to share with you three ways you can learn to avoid the negatives and experience the benefits of good anger.
Let me share with you three ways to be Good and Angry.
1. EXAMINE yourself.
The only way you will know if anger is a problem in your life is to stop and do a self exam. Doctors recommend that we examine ourselves physically to detect any abnormalities before they become a problem. Likewise God wants us to examine ourselves spiritually to detect any feelings of bitterness or unresolved anger before they become a habit.
1st ask: How do I express my anger?
Psychologists have identified four basic ways that we learn to express anger.
1. Maniac (exploder)
A famous golfer was out on the links instructing his son when some reporters came up to him. The reporters began to ask the young boy some questions about his father’s game. One reporter asks, “What has your father taught you when you hit your ball into the rough?” The boy was hesitant to answer the question so his father said to him, “Go ahead Son! Show them exactly what I do when I hit the ball into the trees?” The boy looked again at his father then suddenly took his club and threw it into the water.
You see his father was an exploder. When things didn’t go his way he would over reacts and takes his aggression out on whatever was in front of him. Some of us are exploders.
2. Mute (imploder),
This is the person who is determined never to get angry. Instead of expressing healthy anger he/she bottles it up inside and pretends as if nothing ever bothers him.
Someone once said, ”When I learned to swallow my anger, I later realized my stomach kept count.” Some of us are imploders.
3. Martyr (inflictor), Like Eyore.
This is a person who is excellent at throwing pity parties. They secretly enjoy being disappointed and feel uncomfortable when things are going well. Their anger is repressed and later manifests itself as depression.
4. Manipulator (exploiter), This is the passive aggressive personality.
Like Lee Iacocca when he was fired from Ford said, “I don’t get mad, I just get even.”
1st identify how you express your anger. Then…
2nd Ask: What kind of person do I want to be? Or what kind of person does God want me to be?
When you have a vision of the kind of person you want to become, you will be more motivated to make the necessary changes. You will have a better idea of what needs to change when you know where your character is headed.
Secondly once you identify how you express anger…
2. STOP and THINK.
When you find yourself in a situation that could cause you to lose your temper ask these three questions:
1st Ask: Why am I angry?
Sometime the reason is not obvious but lies deep below the surface. Anger is not always the root problem but a symptom of a bigger problem. When little issues cause you to over react you might be dealing with residual anger. The pain and frustration of past events could be causing you to become angry over petty issues. At this point it is important to seek the guidance of a trained counselor, someone who can help you get to the core issue and encourage you to go to Christ for healing.
2nd Ask: Is it worth getting angry about?
Not everything that bothers you is worth expressing. It is important that you learn to pick your battles carefully.
3rd Ask: What do I really want out of this encounter? - When you think through it logically where do you want the situation to go?
I love email. I think email is great. When I get frustrated with someone or a situation I sit down and write an email describing the problem and the solution. Then I save it in my, “To be sent folder.” I leave it there and read it the next day. 9 times out of 10 I never send the email. Sometimes just writing things down and coming back to them the next day is all the resolution you need. Sometimes anger won’t bring about the result we are hoping for.
So once you have identified how you express anger and once you have thought about why you are angry…
3. Replace your anger.
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.”
When you are sick or have a virus the first thing you do is try to get rid of it. You might drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest or take medications that will combat the effects. Paul is saying when you harbor anger inside do everything you can to get rid of it. Like a virus it wants to gain supremacy over your life but you need to do all you can to replace your anger with something more powerful.
What is the one thing that will help you get rid of your anger? FORGIVENESS
Learn to FORGIVE.
Forgiveness releases the person who has hurt you and gives the pain to God. Forgiving is not forgetting but it is letting go of the pain caused by another person or an event.
How can you learn to replace anger with forgiveness?
1. Believe that anger is a rational choice! People can provoke you to become angry but only you can stay angry. Anger in the end is a choice you have made.
2. Look to the Holy Spirit to empower you. Confess to God that you have not expressed you anger in healthy ways. List the different events where you allowed the situation to be out of control and ask God to forgive you. When you have agreed with God about where you need to change the Holy Spirit will become a strong force in your life for change.
3. Remember, Jesus forgave you!
(Outline adapted from Jim Nicodem, “The Straight Scoop on Anger.” Excellent Resource!!!)