Sunday, March 1, 2009
Anger Really is a Choice
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. And give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27-27). Anger is an emotional arousal caused by something that displeases us, or the emotion that comes when we feel we have lost control (Ephesians 4:26) Here the word anger is in the Greek imperative, Meaning there are some things we ought to be angry over, however not for long. The command to “sin not” cautions us against overindulgence, even in what may have started as righteous anger. Because of the human tendency to allow personal vindictiveness to permeate anger, the safeguard here suggested is to put definite limitations of time on the exercise of anger. Resentments are not to be harbored beyond the day in which they begin (see Psalm 4:4). Anger which is not curbed lays the person open to irrational and evil suggestions, and Satan is quick to grasp the opportunity. Unrestrained anger allows Satan to work through the “old man” and entice us to sin because so often our anger is not righteous. An emotional outburst escapes the control of the mind, and Spirit which influences it. Ephesians 4:23. In itself, anger is not a sin, because even God can be angry (see Deuteronomy 9:8, 20; Psalm 2:12; Matthew 21:12-13). However when a man’s anger smolders, the Scriptures call this malice. This same anger can suddenly burst forth and destroy, we call this wrath. The fire or anger, if not quenched by loving forgiveness, will spread, defile and destroy the work of God. According to Jesus, anger is the first step toward murder (Matthew 5:21-16), because anger gives the devil a foothold in our lives, and Satan is a murderer. Horace said “anger is momentary insanity.” Our Lord’s anger never lead to sin, because His emotions were kept under perfect control. Passionate feelings against people or their actions are not to be kept long, lest they break down the love that seeks to bring good out of evil. Anger may progress to unforgiving attitudes and on to bitterness, the two most formidable walls to reconciliation. If not torn down, they will form an impassable barrier to loving unity. (See Proverbs 12:16). “The wrath of man works not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). We must make Christ like adjustments to the irritating circumstances in our lives. We must realize we never need to be in control, because God is in control. We read in Ephesians 4:27 “Don’t make a habit of giving place to Satan.” In 1 Peter 2:1, 2 we are told plainly to lay aside our hostilities if we are to grow as Christians. God’s method of erasing hostility is forgiveness; this involves dying to the need to avenge. It is easy to hold a grudge against someone who has offended, but God expects us to rid our minds of our anger feelings before they have a chance to be repressed. Proverbs 22:24 says “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shall not go.” Proverbs 19:11 says “The discretion of a man deferrers his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. Three main sources of sinful (inappropriate) anger: 1. Anger that results when one’s selfish demands are not being met. The more selfish, the angrier. 2. Anger that results when one’s perfectionist demand for control is not being satisfied. 3. Anger that results from suspiciousness. Six groups of people who are often the object of anger. 1. Parents. 2. Ourselves. 3. Repressed anger toward God. 4. Our mate. 5. Those in authority over us. 6. Others, peers when we were young. It’s time to leave all vengeance with God. Never try to get even with anyone, including yourself. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.