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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BE ANGRY AND SIN NOT


by Pastor Mark Taylor
Sunday Morning - July 29, 2012
“Be angry and sin not...do not give the devil a foothold”
Ephesians 4:26,28
Our God has feelings just like we do.  He is an emotional creator that made us in His image.  He grieves, loves, and rejoices.  There are even things that make Him angry.  “You alone are to be feared.  Who can stand before you when you are angry?”  (Psalm 76:7).  God has anger and since we are created in His image, He has created us with the emotion of anger.  The difference is that God’s anger is justified and is a righteous anger.  He does not just “lose His temper” and lash out against us or the world.  He is angry at sin.  It is His way of telling us something is wrong, and we need to get it right.
Anger is common for all of us.  But it can destroy us and hurt those around us unless it is vented in a positive and Godly way.
It is also true that “God is Love”.  “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God, and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.  He that does not love, does not know God: for God is love.”  (I John 4:7-8).  There is no contradiction in God being love and having anger.  God’s anger is consistent with His goodness and love.  Because God is righteous and holy too, He desires for you and I to live a holy life.  “He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.” (I Peter 1:15-16).
When something is wrong with our bodies, the brain sends messages to our body in the form of pain.  When your anger is out of control, you are in pain.  Your uncontrolled temper makes others fear you, and makes you feel guilty and lonely.  Unhealthy anger destroys the ability to enjoy life.  It robs us of peace and causes regret, guilt, same, and fractured relationships.
Our anger comes from many sources.  The chances are that adult children of angry parents will themselves demonstrate anger in hurtful ways.  And even worse, it becomes a cycle in which the next generation of children will have an angry spirit deep within them.  There is no “quick fix” to bring us to the goal where we can “be angry and sin not”.  It is a process with our Lord Jesus helping us each step of the way.
The point of this message is to give us all some strategies to overcome explosive anger that hurts us and others.
The first thing we must all do is to take personal responsibility for our unhealthy anger.  If others have confronted you and told you that you have an anger problem, maybe they are right.   You may have been raised in an abusive environment and no doubt it has had an effect on you.  But now you must say that this is my problem, and I am going to have to deal with it.  There is a song that states:  “it is not my brother, not my sister, not my father, not my mother, but it is me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
Secondly, be willing to do something about it.  Life is about choices.  Anger is a learned conscious choice that can become a bad habit.  Habits are formed by repetition over a long period of time.  Anger eruptions are learned habits too.  They have been formed and developed over many years.  
Make a choice to change and with the help of God’s redeeming grace, counseling, study, a support group, or even medical treatment if needed, you can “be angry and sin not”.  Explosive anger didn’t develop over night and it is going to take some time to replace it with better responses.  We either take control of anger or it will take control over us.  Fire under control is useful, but fire out of control destroys everything in its path. “He that is quickly made angry will act foolishly.”  (Proverbs 14:17).
Our Lord certainly controlled His anger when threatened and criticized again and again by the Pharisees.  Our Lord is a model for living.  When He could convince them of their sins, He calmly and assertively told them what He thought about their sinful lives.  When   He could not make them see God’s point of view, He knew when to walk away.  If someone is trying to attack your self-worth or something you dearly believe in, you can state your position in a calm, respectful manner like Jesus did, or simply make a statement that you do not wish to discuss the matter any longer.
Another strategy to help you overcome anger that is hurtful to you and others, is to avoid being around people who are angry people.  “Make no friendship with an angry person;  and do not go with a furious person; because you may learn his ways, and cause pain to your soul.” (Proverbs 22:24).
Probably the best strategy to use in controlling your anger is to replace it with God’s love.  I think this is part of what our Lord meant when He said:  “Bur I say unto you...whosoever shall hit you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39).  As a child of God and as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, you do not always have to have the “last word”.  You do not always have to get your way.  And you do not have to get even.  All of these things will lead you to sin.  God’s Word also tells us: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21).  When you find yourself becoming angry with someone, try to change the conversation or move the situation in a different direction so the other person is not hurt by your anger.  Avoid talking about subjects that you know will anger the other person and in turn make you angry at their response to you.  Sometimes it is best not to talk about politics, religion, or social issues with people who have opposite views from what you have.
God wants you to be happy and healthy.  Anger can cause you to loose both.  Ask the Holy Spirit today to begin working in your heart to change the way you respond to things that make you angry.  God is full of mercy and we should be also.  “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
(Thanks to Rev. Dan White for allowing me to use many of his thoughts and words in this sermon)

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