Charles Stanley - Victory Over Anger
The most dangerous emotion of them all is anger. Many emotions that we have, but the most dangerous of all is anger. And one of the things about anger is this. It's like a boomerang. You can throw it out there, but it is coming back. Because people who are angry are not just angry at somebody at a distance without paying a price themselves. That's just the very nature of it. And oftentimes a person will say, "Well, this is the way God made me. No, God didn't make you angry. Or somebody will say, "Well you know, I just, I was born with a short fuse".
Well you may have been born with some things, but that's not one of them. You didn't have a short fuse. God doesn't make short-fuse babies. We're not born that way. You have to deal with your anger and excusing it and blaming it on somebody else doesn't work. So I would simply ask you a question. Are you an angry person? Do you live in an angry family? Do you work around angry people? Would you consider your boss being angry? Or maybe some of your friends. Or maybe you even go to a church where the pastor's angry. In other words, where does anger fit in your life? It's a destructive emotion. And I want us to look to see what the Word of God says about it, and also how do you overcome it?
So I want you to turn if you will to the fourth chapter of Ephesians. And Paul deals with it here in a beautiful way. And there are some very specific steps a person can deal with to overcome anger in their life, or whatever the cause might be. So look if you will, beginning in verse thirty-one. We'll come back to this chapter in a moment but look in verse thirty-one of Ephesians chapter four. The scripture says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you".
Look at the awesome contrast in those two verses. And also notice if you will the traveling companions with anger. Look at this. Bitterness, wrath, clamor and slander and malice, all of these are traveling companions with anger. They all work together, devastating a person mentally, spiritually and physically. And I want you to see in this passage and in the whole message how in every one of these messages on emotions, that our physical being is greatly affected. And probably the one that affects it most of all is anger. And so, when you look at this passage and you see the contrast, on the other hand, "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, even as the Lord Jesus Christ has forgiven us".
And if you'll go back to Proverbs chapter twenty-two and look at what the Scripture says here so clearly, in this twenty-second chapter. And look if you will in the twenty-fourth verse. This is what God says about anger and about the angry person. He says, "Do not associate with a man given to anger, or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways and find a," watch this, "and find a snare for yourself". You know what happens? Anger creates anger. Now if you are not married and you are dating somebody, mark that one down. Don't go with a hot-tempered man. He may be handsome. He may drive the finest automobile. He may have lots of money. But if he's hot-tempered, he's dangerous. And notice what he says, "Don't go with one". It's amazing to me that people listen and read the Word of God and go right out and do the opposite. But you say, "Well, he's different". Everybody is different. Listen to this. "Or," watch this, "Or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself". That's a very specific, clear warning of the Word of God not to relate, not to get involved with an angry person, because it's a disaster waiting to happen, because they just transfer it.
Now, I want us to look at this uh, passage and, and I want us to notice here how clear the Bible is about those things that go along with anger, bitterness, clamor, all of these things that go along with it. So I want to give you a definition of anger. I could define it much shorter, but I want to give you a long one because it tells you what anger's all about. Look at this. It is a strong feeling of intense displeasure, somebody's unhappy, hostility, indignation as a result, watch this now, of a real or an imagined threat. It doesn't even have to be real. Insult, frustration or injustice toward yourself or others important to you, look at that. A strong intense feeling of displeasure, hostility, indignation as a result of a real or maybe an imagined thing that you heard or something that you heard about yourself, or threat, or as an insult, frustration or injustice toward yourself or others important to you. That's what anger's all about. That, that's why it is absolutely so disastrous, and when a person says, "Well, you know, I'm angry, but I'm not hurting anybody but myself. Oh yes you are.
Now. There are a couple of verses that I know are always on people's minds. Well, what about God's anger, and what about the Bible says in this particular passage, in the fourth chapter of Ephesians, when he says, verse twenty-six, "Be angry, and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity". So when he says, "Be angry and sin not," so does that mean there's good anger and bad anger? Yes, there is. So let's talk about what good anger is about for a moment. So the Bible doesn't say don't get angry. He says, "Don't go to bed with it. Don't let the sun go down on it, which simply means, listen, don't go to bed at night with anger in your heart.
Somebody says, "Well, I'm going to sleep it off". No, you're going to sleep it in, because when you go to bed with anger in your mind, your subconscious takes that and works that anger all night long, working it into your system. And you think you're going to wake up feeling fantastic, and that you're going to be, "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other". No, because your subconscious takes that, drives it into your life. And that's why he says, "Don't go to bed with it. Don't let the sun go down on it. Don't put your head on a pillow if there's anger in your life because God is warning us of what it does".
Now, there is a form of anger that's good. The form of anger that expresses itself against those who are mistreating somebody else. Did you get that? Those, it's anger toward those who are mistreating somebody else. That's legitimate, that's good anger because it needs to be corrected. And so, that kind of anger is controlled. That kind of anger has a purpose. And that kind of anger is justifiable, it's never selfish. For example, Jesus. He was getting ready to heal this man and He looked around and He knew the Pharisees and Sadducees were getting ready to accuse Him. And so the Scripture says, "After looking around at them with anger," Jesus got angry, "looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart".
Now what was He angry about? He wasn't angry about what they were doing to Him. He was angry because of their attitude toward this man. He was getting ready to get healed on the Sabbath and they couldn't stand it. So He was angry. And then, four hundred and ninety times in the Old Testament, the Bible says that God is angry about something. But God's anger was always righteous indignation. Righteous indignation is anger toward those things that God would be angry about if He were in that situation. You know that's right anger, it's God's anger, it's righteous indignation.
And so, how do we determine, for example, if our anger is sinful or not? You ask yourself several questions. Number one, is my anger directed toward a person? Is my anger directed toward a person? Secondly, is it without a justifiable cause? Am I angry just because somebody hurt my feelings or said something or did something I didn't like? Is that a justifiable cause? No. Does that anger seek to do harm to the other person, to another person? Then that's a whole different story. And then, if it's the wrong kind of anger, it's the kind of anger, it's I'm going to hold tightly, not giving it up, no matter what. And so also, you have to ask, "Is my anger the kind that has developed an unforgiving spirit"? All of those are bad.
So, how do people usually handle their anger? Well there are several ways. One way, they just explode. Well and they just have this fit. And then they quieten down and, and they act like everything's fine because they've got it out of their system. The other person is like a boiling pot. And I think in terms of like a crock-pot. You know, you put all the food in there and the water and so forth, and then you just turn it on and just let it simmer. And it boils and it simmers and, and on and on it goes. And you know what? Everything gets cooked. And in human life a person with a crock-pot anger, they may keep it subdued, but you know what it's doing? It's cooking them. Their whole emotional being is being tainted and ultimately destroyed.
Before long, we'll talk about the consequences, they can't love anybody. They can't get along with anybody. They can't tell you why, because they won't deal with anger. And they may be able to trace their anger all the way back to their father or mother and say, "Well, I'm the way I am because of thus and so. Listen". All of us could go back and find something that somebody taught us, or we saw, that didn't help us any. The truth is we're responsible for discovering what's there that's causing us to act the way we act. You can't shove responsibility for actions on somebody else. It doesn't make any difference who they are and what they did.
Well, they did thus and so. Okay, so they did. So what do we do about it? Let's just think about what are the consequences of being angry? Well first of all, your relationship to God's not right. You cannot be angry toward others and be right with God. When He says put it off, lay it down, lay it aside. Can't be right with God and angry at someone else. Even though you could give me twenty-five reasons for being angry, the truth is, twenty-five reasons why you ought to deal with it. So what happens? Your relationship to God's not right. When you're angry with another person, your relationship with them's not going to be right. Especially is that true in a marriage. When one person is angry or both of them are angry, because anger, when it's bad anger, it's all about me. Because you see, anger says, "I want control. And I will control by throwing a fit or by doing something else that is ungodly".
And so, there's a critical spirit that develops in a person who is angry. And you know people who are angry. That's just who they are. In other words, you say, "Well, you know, that's who they are". That's who they are, but you don't want to be around them. And when the Bible says don't even associate with an angry person, because an angry person is a foolish person. He says it resides, anger resides in the bosom of a fool. That's strong language for God to say about a person who's angry. Why? Because God wants us to see how devastating it is in a person's life. You cannot live with anger and be a healthy person. You cannot. And many people, for example, who are depressed, they're angry about something, something that happened in the past. They can't get over it. They hold to it. They nourish it. They nurse it. It's part of them, but it's also a destructive part of them.
And so when you think of physically, think about it for example. A person who is very, very angry and who lives with that anger is subject to a heart attack. It would be interesting, and the medical profession could tell you, probably, some statistics. How many people have heart attacks in a fit of anger? Or at the end of an angry period. Their blood pressure's going up. I wonder how many people are on blood pressure medicine because of something that's going on in their life. And what happens? Everything in your body gets tense. When your body's tense and your vessels are tense and, in other words, your body. You can't function. In other words, the physical body was not made to function in tight, stress, and anger, and hostility, and bitterness, and all the rest. There's no way.
And so, the issue is, it's a devastating, ungodly attitude about which God says it makes a man or a woman a fool. Anger abides in the bosom of a fool, therefore, it is ungodly. It is un-Christ-like. It is unproductive. And it's unhealthy. And it's costly. And it can destroy you. Now tell me one good thing why you should allow yourself to be angry. Cannot. So, how do we deal with it? So I'm going to give you a list of nine ways to deal with because all of them are important and the first one is this. You've got to identify it. You want to get rid of anger, because you see somebody, you may be sitting out here and saying, "I know I'm angry. I feel angry, but I don't know why"? Then you have to identify it. If you're going to deal with it, you've got to identify it and ask yourself the question, what is the source of my anger? In other words, do I look at my family and say it's my husband, my wife, my children? Is it my finances? Is it my job? Or, watch this, is it something that happened back yonder in the past that I've never dealt with? You were hurt back there. Maybe you were younger. Maybe it was in your marriage. But somewhere back yonder in the past you were deeply hurt. You didn't deal with it and that's been seething there all along.
So, if you're going to deal with anger, you have to be willing to look back, look around, but look back and ask yourself the question. What is it? What is it that I'm angry about? Am I angry at God? Somebody said to me one time, they said, at first I thought I was angry at you. Said, "Well, then I decided I was angry at God. And then I decided the truth was" No, it's over a period of time they came to this conclusion. Then I finally decided I was angry with myself. Let me ask you a question. How foolish is it to be angry with God? You know He could snap you out just like that. You're angry at God? Who sent His Son to the cross to die for your sins, who keeps your heart beating every day? Every good thing that comes your way is from Him and even some of the bad things that would come your way He turns them to good and you're angry at God?
You have to identify who and what is it that... am I angry against some institution? It doesn't make any difference what it is. You have to identify it. What is it I'm angry about? Secondly, you have to be willing to confess it. That is, yes I am angry. I'm not going to stuff it any longer. Not going to deny it any longer. Not going to push it aside, not going to cover it up. I'm going to be willing to acknowledge it. And in the process ask yourself the question. Why am I angry? Why am I angry? What, whatever the, whatever the, whatever the reason is, why am I still angry? I'm the one paying the price. Why am I still angry?
The third thing is this, clarify your feelings. In other words, what am I feeling in this anger? I admit that I am. I ask myself the question, "Why am I angry"? So, what are my feelings in this? Clarify them. Is it that I feel hurt? Do I feel rejected? You may say, "Well, all these things. Do I fear getting involved in something that I think I should? Am I angry about that? Why don't I have the capacity to do these things? Do I have needs that are unmet"? You have to, you have to purposely deal with it. If you're going to overcome anger, purposely deal with it quickly. How? Well first of all, just what we said. Identify it, confess it and clarify your feelings. What's this all about? If you don't, you see, if you feel, watch this. And this is a terrible feeling for somebody to have.
If you feel angry and you don't know what is, that's just frustration. That create anxiety, that creates a hostile feeling in your own heart. You're angry with yourself, bitter with yourself. Why am I this way? What's going on in my life? And so when you start getting honest, you have to be totally honest. Well, well they, I mean, that certainly couldn't be true, but it may be true. And so if I'm going to deal with it, I need to deal, watch this, quickly because the longer I hold to it, the more I will justify its presence and defend it, and the more disastrous it'll be. And one thing I'd make a suggestion, which is the next thing on my list here, that is take an emotional time out. And one of the best ways to do that is think about this.
Let me ask you this. We all know what a big stop, red stop sign looks like, amen? Come on, now amen? Know what a stop sign looks like. All right, if you want to prevent yourself from getting angry about something, when somebody wrongs you or says something you think they said or whatever it might be. Before you react, you think about that big red stop sign, stop! And do what? You stop and you think about it. Remember what the Bible says, "Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger". Quick to listen to it, slow to speak, slow to anger, because God doesn't want us living as angry people. We represent Him.
And so, the next thing I'd simply say is, what he says in this passage, put it away. That's what he says in this passage. He says, "Be angry, and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give the devil..." For example, don't give him a place. And he said, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you". What do you mean, put it away? Well, for example, this morning I got up and I didn't have this coat on. So, I decided to put it on. So, I've been wearing it. Now, how do I take it off? I just take it off the way I got it on.
So, if I'm going to get rid of anger, here's what he says, "Take it off, strip it away, put it down". He says, "How" Listen, I can't put that down. If you could not, it wouldn't be in the Bible. By the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within you, He will enable you and empower you to say, "God, I forgive them. I don't want that in my life anymore, Lord. It's hurt me, it's damaged me. It's hurt me deeply, and Lord, I lay it down. I lay down my anger toward that person". Then likewise, replace it. In other words, we say get rid of it and replace it. Let's say you get angry. I would say to a lady, "Your husband makes you angry about something and you just don't know what you're going to do, and you're just having a fit". Go clean out that old closet that you've been avoiding to clean out for months. Get in there. You know what happens? You get in there with your hands and you're working. You're getting something done. Go wash your car. In other words, go play golf. Do something to get you out of that mode.
You don't have to respond in bitterness and resentment and hostility and anger. You don't have to. Do something that's good. And then determine in your own mind you're going to benefit from it. In other words, if you hit one of those situations, don't let it go by. Just say, "How can I benefit from this? Well one way you can benefit from it is this. You say, "Well Lord, just help me to be able to realize that when I'm angry, there's something wrong". If I'm angry, there's something wrong. So therefore, it's up to me to deal with that anger in my heart, no matter whether somebody else does or not.
And then purpose in your heart that you, listen, purpose in your heart that you'll prevent that from reoccurring again. You just won't let yourself get entangled in all that anger. In other words, you can make a decision, "Lord, I don't want to be a person who wears their feelings on their sleeve. I want to be a person who demonstrates godliness, righteousness, love and kindness and peace, and understanding and forgiveness. If I learn that lesson, and purpose in my heart to respond in that way. And you may be sitting here this morning and thinking, "He doesn't know my situation".
No I don't, but let me ask you a question. Name me a situation in which it is not right to do the things that I've talked about, you can't. Acknowledge it, deal with it, lay it down, wash your hands of it. God will enable you to do that. And walk on in your life, not allowing yourself, listen, it's a form of suicide. You kill yourself a day at a time by allowing anger to conquer you in your life. Well, you may not be a Christian and you're saying, "Well, how can I deal with that"? You won't do very well at it for the simple reason it takes Jesus and the power of God within you to be able to forgive and to enable yourself to walk away and strip away those things in your life that are destroying your life. It's not worth it.
And if you're willing to ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to cleanse you of the sin in your own life, and tell Him that you're receiving Christ Jesus as your personal Savior and the Lord and Master of your life. That you want Him in your life, you want the best life possible, and that's a life that He gives. If you're willing to ask Him, He's willing to give it to you and to give you guidance in your life and to help you overcome. You say, "But I've got so much junk in my past and so much trash in my past and so much hurt and so much failure in my past". When He went to the cross, He took your sin debt in full. He paid your sin debt in full. He's already taken care of all that. All you have to do is let Him handle it, and He'll handle it. You don't have but two choices. You can be miserable the rest of your life, or you can have a peace that passes all understanding. But if you're angry, you've got to deal with it.
Father, how grateful we are that You're patient and loving and kind and tender and forgiving. Thank You that You'd have a lot of reasons to be angry with all of us, but You're not. And when we make mistakes or sin against You, You don't get angry with us. You know where we are. You know our hearts. You know what we choose to do. And so we thank You this morning for loving us enough to be gracious and kind and forgiving and very patient till we learn some lessons we probably should have learned a long time ago. And this we pray in Jesus' name, amen.