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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - The Danger of Anger

Charles Stanley - The Danger of Anger

Charles Stanley - The Danger of Anger

How do you respond when you have feelings of anger? What causes you to be stirred up with anger the most? Is it somebody, some people, or is it some circumstances? Do you think that all of your anger is sin and is it possible to be angry and not know it? And so what do you do with anger when you feel those angry feelings? Well, that's what I want to talk about in this message entitled "The Danger of Anger". And I want you to turn if you will to Ephesians 4 and Paul made some very strong statements in a very short moment in this fourth chapter beginning with verse 30 and through verse 32, and I want us to use this as our basis today for this whole issue of "The Danger of Anger".

So, beginning in verse 30 of the fourth chapter of Ephesians, here's what Paul says. "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you". Now that's a strong word about forgiveness and a strong word about anger. He says we're just to put it away from us. Put it away, all wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you with all malice, being kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other. And probably the most two important words are "just as" God in Christ has forgiven us.

Well, I want us to look at this whole issue of anger because it is far more dangerous than we realize, because anger is dangerous. It is dangerous to us physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. Anger is a danger. Now somebody says, "Well, what is anger anyway"? Well anger is that feeling of sudden and strong displeasure and antagonism that is directed against a cause that we assume has brought us, has been wronged, some wrong done against us or some injury that you and I've suffered. So we assume, it's not always true, but we can assume that it's true. A strong displeasure, strong feeling of antagonism. We get angry, we have these feelings, we want to do something in return. So, when you think about anger, let's think about it in this way for a moment as we think about the whole nature of it and that's this. There are some benefits to anger.

So, let's begin with that. There are some benefits. For example, anger is sort of like a headache. It is an indication that something on the inside is not right. It is also a feeling, an emotion that can catapult us, that can move us out of our apathy, that can get us moving into light. And sometimes it can be used to accomplish and achieve things otherwise we would not because we've sort of settled down. Then something happens. We get angry at the way we'll act and the way we're living, the way we're responding. And so sometimes something very good can come out of it. And the Bible says it certainly is not all a sin.

Look if you will in the twenty-sixth verse of this same chapter and notice what Paul says. He says, "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, it's very clear in the Bible that all anger is not sin though usually we think when we become angry, "Well, I've sinned against God". It depends upon the nature of that which we'll talk about in just a moment. And it's very clear from the scripture that all anger could not be sin because if you'll go to the third chapter of Mark and here Jesus is dealing with the Pharisees and the Sadducees and He is about to heal someone on the Sabbath day. And He knows that they're looking at Him with great disdain.

And so, when you look at this passage and listen to what the scripture says about what Jesus said, "He said to the man with the withered hand, 'Rise and come forward!' And He said to them, 'Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?' But they kept silent". Because they wanted to accuse Him. Then here's what the scripture says, "And after looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he stretched out his hand, and his hand was restored". So, the Bible says that Jesus experienced anger. So, we go back to what Paul said in Ephesians here. And he said, "Be angry and yet do not let the sun go down on your anger".

That is, deal with it immediately. That is, don't go to bed at night angry. He does not say anywhere in the scripture, "Do not be angry, period". He says, "Do not be angry and sin. Don't let it pass the nightfall". He says, "Before the night comes," he says you and I are to deal with it. Now, we know that all the way back in the beginning of the scriptures, the first family in the Bible, what happened? Cain became angry and God said to him, you know, "What are you angry about"? And so, we see the result of uncontrolled anger in the very first family. It caused the death of his brother. Settle it before nightfall. That's the issue. Not that all anger is a sin, but we will naturally get angry at things that happen to us when we are wronged or injured and we hear things that we know are absolutely not true, false accusations.

There may be a moment of anger. But certainly, I do believe that the longer you and I walk in the Spirit, the more it takes to get us angry. We can say, "Well, you know, Lord, heard that before". Or, "Thank You, Father. Just want to thank You in Jesus's name, that's their problem, not mine". And yet there are some things that often times sting when we hear them because we feel so disappointed that people would do or act or they behave a certain way. But so, what are the lingering results? In other words, if you don't settle it by nightfall, what can you expect? Well immediately, for example, when a person gets angry, what happens? Pulse rate increases. Blood pressure can rise.

And you've seen people get red in the face and you say, "Well, gosh, he almost exploded". Well, that's exactly right. Blood pressure rises, heart beats faster, sometimes they get sweaty. And you think, "My, we're gonna have a fight right here". Their voice changes, their adrenaline begins to run. That's something that happens instantly. But then what about those lingering things? Anger can affect a person's digestive system, respiratory system, circulatory system. Every system in the body can be affected by anger. People have strokes, people have heart attacks. You see, anger isn't some little simple emotion that we can just pass off because when it reaches certain stages, it has devastating effects upon a person's life.

And so when we think about the long-term effects. And this is why I've said it over and over and over again, it's that lingering anger that we don't deal with. It's just there, it's rooted in there. It's got all kind of sprouts. It's got tentacles in every facet of our thinking. And so a person who allows it like that, what happens is naturally it separates from other people. And often times because people are unwilling to deal with it, naturally they're unwilling to be forgiving. And when you put those two together, and they usually go together, you put those two together, you have all kinds of divisiveness. Whether it's in a family, whether it's among friends, or whether it's in a church, in your business, whatever it might be, your business partners.

If somebody is not willing to deal with anger, they gets... there becomes this unforgiving spirit between them and before long there is a breakup, there is a dissension, there's a fraction, there's fragmentation, there's hurt, there's pain, there's suffering of all kinds. Because you see, that's just the consequence of, listen, of anger that is undealt with. Another thing that happens, another result of it is passive aggression. Well, what's passive aggression? Let's say for example that you're angry at your employer. You don't think you've made enough money. you don't think they're treating you right, they passed over you for this particular promotion.

So, what happens? You're ready to leave in the afternoon and it's about five thirty. Most people are gone and you notice there's a big leak over here in this water fountain. And I mean it's in the floor and it's going right down to the next office. It's going right to the next ceiling and you say, "You know what? That's not my fault. I didn't do it. That's their problem. They deserve it anyway". So you go on home. You say, "Well now, I didn't cause the leak". No, you didn't. But why would you walk out? Why would you walk out without telling someone? Why would you not try in some fashion to prohibit that? Why wouldn't you try to correct it? I'll tell you why. Because you have a level of resentment, and it takes the form of passive aggression.

For example, here is a man who is angry at his wife and so he knows the best way to deal with her is to express that, just never show up on time for dinner. She fixes this wonderful dinner for him, and yet he's always late. And so, what is he doing? He's just passively expressing his anger. Oh, he's not blowing up and he's not in rage, but he's expressing it. And you and I could go through a thousand different illustrations of how people are very passively aggressively expressing their anger. Children, for example, who are very smart, very intelligent, come home with poor grades. You know why? Because they're very passively aggressively expressing their anger toward their parents. Or they know better, they know better than to get on drugs. They know better.

What do they do? They do something that expresses anger in a very passive aggressive form to their parents to cause hurt and pain to their parents. There are all kinds of ways of expressing resentment and anger, bitterness, hostility, all of these things. And sometimes they can be seemingly so camouflaged so well, but ultimately it's going to express itself and it's gonna hurt somebody. The person who expresses their anger is hurt. And the person to whom or against whom they express it, likewise is gonna feel that hurt. Other people express it in different ways. They cannot handle their anger or the way they handle it, the way they respond to it, and the way, for example they... the lingering results of it is that they get depressed. They just get depressed.

Now I won't say this is always true because sometimes it can be a chemical reaction in a person's life, but probably most depression. Notice I said probably most depression is the result of unresolved conflicts, anger in a person's heart. So, they get depressed. And so the lingering results of anger is depression. Now what does that lead to? Well, you go to the doctor and what does he do? He gives you some anti-depressant. And before long you get another anti-depressant. Before long you're taking this and you're taking that, you're taking the other. And what you're doing is, each time you do that you're just trying to cover up, cover up, cover up. That helps you repress it, that helps you suppress it. That helps you in your denial.

And so, what are they doing? Instead of dealing with S-I-N, and counselors are just as guilty as the medical doctor. In other words, well here's what say, "Well poor little old you. Well, you have just been this, that, and the other, and so forth, and we're gonna give you something to help you through this so you won't feel this". Instead of dealing with the source of the anger, they attempt to cover it up with drugs. Or other people try to cover it up with alcohol. Other people go to the refrigerator when they get angry. So, they're just gonna eat themselves to death and blame it on someone else. Or I'm going shopping. I'll just go shopping, that's what I'll do, I'll get my mind off of this. And so, what do they do? They go out, they pull out their credit cards and what happens?

The reason they're in debt is not because they love all these things, it's because they're expressing anger. And their anger is expressed in this very, very futile fashion of buying this and buying that. I want to tell you, my friend, there's not enough things in the world. There are no things created in the world, there's not enough of anything in the world to deal with your anger. Buying things and eating more and taking drugs and getting on alcohol and having affairs, none of these things are going to settle the key issue, which is to face your anger. But if you let it linger, this is the way you'll respond. You'll respond in all different kinds of ways.

And so some people just get hostile and so hostile you can't live with them. And I would just simply say this about anger, and that is when you're angry, let me just remind you of two things don't do. Number one, do not make important decisions when you're angry because you can't think accurately. "Oh yes I can". No, you can't. Do not make important decisions when you're angry. Secondly, don't make judgments against other people when you're angry. Because more than likely you're projecting something on them that has been done to you, and you are projecting on them what you think or what you may feel. Remember we said an assumed wrong that has been done to you. So two things you don't do. You don't make important decisions when you're angry.

You say, "But suppose I'm at a deadline here and I have to make a decision". Then friend, cool off and deal with your anger before you make that decision. Don't make important decisions when you're angry. Don't make judgments against other people when you're angry. What did he say? He said, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away". Deal with it. "Along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ Jesus has forgiven you".

Now, so, what we have to ask is, this being true, how are you and I to deal with this anger that we have? How are we to handle it? Well, most people handle it by we said repressing it, suppressing it, by letting it linger in their life, by explosions, or they will deal with it in a proper fashion. So, what I'd like to do is to think in terms about how are we to deal with this anger? So, I want you to listen carefully now. Because no matter how angry you are, whether you're angry at yourself, or at God, or at someone, or some circumstance.

You see, the first thing you have to do to deal with anger is to own it. Yes, I am angry. Now there are a lot of people who will go through their life and they will never be willing to admit that. "Don't tell me I'm angry because I'm not angry". And this is really what happens sometime. When you say to somebody, "Well I think you're..." "I am not angry"! "Well, if you're not, why do you express it even to defend yourself"? Because you are. So, first of all you own it. Yes, I am anger. I'm angered about this. I'm angry about that. I've been angered about this over here. I own it first of all. May be something back yonder in your past years and years ago. Something that you thought someone did to you. They may not have even done it. Something you thought they said when it was somebody else.

It's amazing how people project on people things that absolutely never happened. So first of all, we own it. Secondly, we identify what it is. We identify why it's there. We identify where it came from. You say, "Well, I don't know how to do that". Well then, my friend, you need some help to help you talk it out with somebody. Say, "This is how I feel. I don't know why I feel this way". And one of the most exciting things to me, and I don't get into the counseling because I don't have time to do that. But I can tell you one of the most exciting things to me is to sit down with somebody who is angry, or whatever the problem, and take that first little, just that little tip end of the iceberg and say, "Now look, let's find out how big this is. Let's find out where this goes".

And you know what? If somebody will be open and honest with you, even if they won't, you can find out what the real source of their anger or bitterness or hostility is, because it's there. The Spirit of God will show you. Another thing I would simply say is not only to identify it and to own it, what the source of it is, but deal with it quickly. That's what he says. He says in this particular 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 an opportunity". Why did he say, "Don't give the devil an opportunity"? Because the devil, listen, if it lingers, here's what the devil's doing all the time. "You are justified in your anger. You, listen, they deserve it. God understands. He knows all about... this is what they... that's not right".

You know what happens? Satan will take your lingering anger. He will build you the most awesome defense. And you can stand, look at anybody in the face, and you can say, "I'll tell you why I'm angry. He did this or she did that or they did this to me". And on and on and on you go, and you can defend yourself. And what you have to ask is who was your defensive, who was your defending attorney? Satan. Doesn't work. You see, defending it doesn't work. A fourth thing and probably the most difficult thing is this. I have to forgive whoever hurt me no matter what. Because forgiveness is absolutely the most important aspect of dealing with anger. Anger and unforgiveness are traveling companions. They just match together.

"I have anger toward you and because of what you've done, I cannot forgive you. Oh, I can forgive you but I can't forget". That's not forgiveness. "I can forgive you but..." when you put a "but" behind it, you haven't forgiven anybody. Forgiveness is absolutely essential. Listen to what he says. He says, "Put away, put away all these things. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice," unless you have been wronged. That's not what it says. Unless they deserve it. No. He says, "Put it away". And then not only put it away, he says, "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted," tenderhearted, listen, "forgiving one another, even, just like God has forgiven you".

Now let's ask ourselves the question, how has He forgiven us? All of us would admit, all of us would confess, all of us would acknowledge we have sinned against God many, many times and we have committed all kinds of sin. Doesn't mean that everybody's committed the same thing, but we've committed all kinds of sin. How many of you could have to say, "I asked God to forgive me and He said, 'Nothing doing. No way am I gonna forgive you.'" He's never said that. God's never rejected us when we've come to Him to ask for forgiveness. The truth is, every single child of God lives under the canopy, walks on the road, is surrounded by, covered by the grace of God which provides forgiveness for us moment by moment, day by day.

If I don't ask Him to forgive me, I just lose my fellowship with Him. But I am a forgiven child of God because when you and I came to Christ and we asked Him to forgive us of our sins, when He went to the cross, He paid our sin-debt in full, past, present, and future. He knew that you and I were gonna sin against Him. And listen, His blood has taken care of that. That does not mean I'm not to confess it, does not mean I'm not to repent of it. I am indeed. That is absolutely essential to my fellowship with Him. So therefore, here's what I have to ask. Do I have any justification whatsoever for being unforgiving toward anyone no matter what they've done to me?

Now I'll tell you how this most impressed me personally. I was studying about forgiveness one day and I don't remember exactly what the message was, but it was in a series on forgiveness. And for the first time in my life I saw something. Now maybe you'd already seen it before, I certainly hope you have. But I was thinking about forgiveness and thinking about it this way. How can I be unforgiving toward someone when, now watch this, when God has already forgiven me? And secondly, if they're another Christian, that's another Christian, he's already forgiven them. If He has forgiven them, how can I not forgive them? It absolutely set me free. How can I hold something against someone when God doesn't? If someone is not a Christian, it is, "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. I will repay, says the Lord".

You know what? Why should I be angry and let this poison seep into my life and destroy me when God says, "Leave them to me. I'll take care of them," if it's an unsaved person. If it's somebody who's doing wicked and they're ungodly, God says, "I'll handle... don't you try to handle it. Let Me handle that". Don't let sin creep into your life and linger and destroy and poison your whole system, cheating you out of the understanding of love and the expressions of contentment and joy and peace and happiness in your life. Don't allow yourself to be cheated out of all that because of what they, "I will deal with them".

You see, the truth is you and I can't justify an unforgiving spirit. And therefore, if I'm gonna be forgiving, I've got to deal with my anger. You cannot be angry and resentful and hostile and bitter and same time be forgiving. They just don't work. So if I'm gonna be forgiving, I've gotta deal with my anger. I've got to acknowledge what it is. What is the source? You say, "Well I've acknowledged what it is, I've acknowledged the source and they are the source and they are the reason, they're the cause. All this hurt, all this pain, all the suffering, all this loss, it's their fault". And you know what? You and God can both say, "Right"! But what is your responsibility? One thing, forgiveness. You have to lay it down. You have to say, "Lord, thank You for Your forgiveness toward me. Thank You that You loved me enough that You forgave me of all my sin. And God, You know I'm gonna be... I'm weak and I'm frail. I'm gonna sin again, and You... and my... forgiveness is there".

How can I hold an unforgiving spirit toward someone else, no matter what they've done, when my heavenly Father's forgiveness is abundant, overflowing, adequate, sufficient, saving, and eternal? Cannot justify it. If you're gonna deal with anger, you've gotta be forgiving. Then another thing I would simply say is this. And that is, learn to identify, watch this now. Learn to identify those things that frequently tick you off, cause you to be angry. It may be something that happens real often. It may be something that happens once a month. It may be something that happens on your job very often. You sort of know it's coming. Or you, it's just one of those areas of your life, that's one area, become sensitive to it. Remember what he said? "Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger". So, what do we do? We ask the Holy Spirit.

You see, here's one of our assets. We have the Holy Spirit on the inside of us. He says, "The fruit of the Spirit is self-control". We have the power on the inside of us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, to enable you and me, no matter what we face, to respond in a godly fashion. I may hurt, I may feel the pain, I may get angry for the moment. But to recognize, "Father, enable me to respond to this in the proper fashion. Don't let me respond, God, in an ungodly fashion". We have Him to enable us, to strengthen us, to help us through these difficult times, no matter what may be going on, no matter what we may feel. Now, if I develop that kind of alertness, that what's going on, then I'm gonna be able to handle those things that would cause me to be angry.

Now let me ask you a question. You've never trusted Jesus as your Savior. You may be angry at God, angry at the church, angry at some pastor, angry at some other Christian, your employer, your friends, your enemies, whoever it might be. Well, let me ask you a question. Think about this for a moment. Let's suppose that you're angry at somebody who doesn't even know that you're angry toward them. They've never done anything. You just think they have. Do you see how foolish it is for you to be hurting and the suffering and the poison of anger and bitterness to be flowing through your whole system, affecting your whole body physiologically as well as emotionally, mentally, spiritually? They don't even know it. They're totally immune to the whole idea.

And here you are suffering over something that's a misunderstanding. It's not worth it. It's not worth it when you can lay it down. He says, he says, "Put it aside". If anger could not be put aside, the Apostle Paul would never have said, "Lay it down, put it aside". What does he mean? Face it, identify it, bring it before God, confess it, repent of it before Him. Forgive the person that wronged you. If it's a circumstance that you can't put a person's name on, then tell God you acknowledge that He's in control, that He allowed that for some reason in your life and whatever it is, you accept His reason, though you may never understand. You just want to be right with Him. And you know what'll happen? You'll be free. You'll sense a joy and a peace and a happiness and a tranquility and a contentment in your life that you can't explain. And you know what happens? It'll make it very difficult for somebody to make you angry.

You say, "Well, do you ever get angry"? Yes I do. But friend, I make it very brief because I don't want any poison to flow through my system any longer than it takes me to talk to God about it and to deal with it. He has given every single believer the capacity to deal with anger instantly when it hits us. Now listen carefully. That is not to say that there will not be tragedies that are so awesome in our thinking that it clouds our mind for a season of time until we can begin to think properly. But I do believe that no matter how deep it may be and how painful it may be, the capacity to get our focus upon our Lord and not upon somebody else is, listen, it's not only possible, it is the way God intends for us to deal with anger. I plead with you in Jesus's name, do not let it linger any longer. Don't let it seethe and just slip out and passively aggressively continually express it upon people. That you may get by with it as far as they're concerned, but not with God, and most of all not with your own body and your own life. God offers the gift of peace, contentment and joy, but only to those who are willing to come to Him and ask for it and accept it.

And Father, how grateful we are for Your wonderful love for us. Deliver every single one of us from any anger, bitterness, hostility, resentment. Give us the courage to face whatever circumstance or whoever to ask to make things right in order that Your Holy Spirit can rule and reign in our hearts, and the wonderful joy and peace and contentment and happiness that You have for us, we can enjoy every day. I pray the Holy Spirit will speak to someone who is unsaved and help them to understand, until they're willing to deal with their sin problem, nothing else is gonna work out right. Grant them the courage to do just what You said. Before the sun sets today, let there be peace where there has been pain, in Jesus's name, amen.

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