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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - A Faith That Stays Calm in a Crisis

Rick Warren - A Faith That Stays Calm in a Crisis

Rick Warren - A Faith That Stays Calm in a Crisis
TOPICS: A Faith That Works When Life Doesn’t, Faith, Peace, Crisis

Hello everybody. Welcome back to week seven of our special study during this COVID-19 global pandemic. I'm Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church, author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and teacher for the Daily Hope Broadcast. Now in this series, my goal is to share with you practical and Biblical principles that will help you navigate this crisis with calmness and competence and confidence. I want you to learn how to control the controllable things in your life and trust God for all the stuff that you can't control.

Now during these stressful times, I chose for us to study the small Book of James in the Bible because it was written to encourage people who were experiencing severe pressure and stress due to the crisis in the days that they were working on. Now the Book of James only has five chapters and it has 108 verses, but it's loaded with insights that we need right now. In fact, you know, when I first started studying the little Book of James, I found 16 principles to guide us through this pandemic. But the more I've studied this book as I've prepared these messages, I found three more principles to share with you. So it looks like we're gonna learn 19 life principles during the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you'll stick with me to learn all of them because it'll change your life.

Now this past week I read a number of news articles that talked about the increasing number of outbursts of anger and irritability in our society during this pandemic. In one article I read, it had the headline, "The Coronavirus Has Made Me a Raged Monster". Well, it seems like a lot of people are feeling angry and they don't know why. So today, I wanna help you not only understand where anger comes from, whether it's in yourself or somebody else, but I also wanna share the practical steps from God's Word on how to reduce the level of anger in yourself and in others. This is a very important message at this point in the pandemic because if you've been feeling more short-tempered and angrier during the spread of the COVID-19 virus, I want you to know that's normal.

There are many things to be angry about right now. And the combined factors of being out of work, being quarantined at home, caring for kids who are out of school that you normally didn't have to care for during the day, the daily pandemic news and all the other stressful changes that you've had to go through in a very short time, that's causing a lot of heated emotions, like anger and irritability and frustration and just being short-tempered. That's why I'm teaching this series. To help you cope with the emotional dis-ease of the disease. As I said in the previous message, I can't keep you from getting the disease but I can help you cope with the emotional and spiritual dis-ease, dis-ease that we're all feeling. Fortunately, we have a Bible book written by James and today we're gonna look at what God has to say about anger, both in James and in other places in the Bible.

Now our series, if you remember, is called "A Faith That Works When Life Doesn't", A Faith That Works When Life Doesn't. And today, we're gonna look specifically at a faith that keeps me calm in a crisis, it keeps me calm in a crisis. You know, anger may be the most misunderstood and most mismanaged emotion. The wrong kind of anger is actually named as one of the seven deadly sins but not all anger is a sin. Sometimes the most appropriate response to a situation is anger. Sometimes anger is an expression of love. So anger is not automatically a sin. In fact, anger is a God given capacity. The Bible tells us that God gets appropriately angry. And the only reason you're able to experience anger is because you're created in God's image. Anger has its place. If you were never angry, you'd just be a vegetable.

But there is such a thing as sinful anger, wrong anger, unrighteous anger and you must learn how to control your anger. You have to learn how to use it wisely, you have to learn how to use it appropriately. you have to learn how to use anger righteously because mismanaged anger is a sin but managed anger is actually an asset. What I'm saying to you is that the problem really isn't anger as much as it is inappropriate expression of anger. And typically, we go to one of two extremes. When we get angry we either blow up or we clam up. We become a mute and we say nothing or we become a maniac and we explode. I say we either stew or we spew. One of you to use an analogy in a marriage of animals, one of you tends to be a skunk and one of you tends to be a turtle in your marriage. If you're a turtle, when turtles get angry they just pull into a shell and they hide but when skunks get angry they stink up the whole place. And I what I've discovered is that in all the years I used to do marriage counseling I discovered that skunks and turtles always marry each other.

Now before we look at what God has to say about managing your anger in a crisis, let me share with you some things that I've learned. First, I discovered it through study that men tend to lose their temper more often than women. Typically, a woman will lose her temper about three times a week while a man will typically lose his temper about six times a week. Women tend to get more angry at people while men tend to get more often angry at things like machines that break down. It's interesting that in studies it has shown that single adults express anger twice as often as married adults, twice as often. And men are more physical with their anger than women. Also you're more likely to express anger at home than anywhere else.

And I think that's why all of us at home during this pandemic have seen a rise in anger. Finally, a statistic I learned is that successful marriages are not those marriages where anger and conflict doesn't exist but rather a successful marriage is where they have learned to manage their anger. When anger is managed it produces great marriages, when anger is managed it produces great friendships, when anger is managed it produces great businesses, when anger is managed it produces great athletes and great leaders. So how do I grow a faith that keeps me calm in a crisis or keeps me calm in a conflict? Well, I wants us today to look at six biblical steps; the principles of anger management, here they are.

Number one, if you're taking notes realize the cost of uncontrolled anger, that's the starting point. You're gonna learn to manage your anger, you've got to realize the cost of uncontrolled anger because you're less likely to get angry if you remember that there's always a price tag for uncontrolled anger, it's very expensive. The Bible has a lot to say about this. Proverbs 29:22 says, "A hot-tempered man gets into all kinds of trouble," and we're all probably not in our head right now. Hot temper gets us into all kinds of trouble, what kinds of trouble? Well, God gets very, very specific. Now you've heard that confession is good for the soul so as I read these next couple of verses you might wanna raise your hand at home if any of these are true of you, it causes all kinds of trouble, how about this? Proverbs 15:18. "Hot tempers cause arguments". Anybody wanna raise your hand on that? Yeah, I've seen that, hot tempers cause arguments.

Proverbs 14:29 "Anger causes mistakes," anybody wanna raise their hand on that? Proverbs 14:17, "People with hot tempers do foolish things". We've all done that. You see you always lose when you lose your temper. You lose the respect of others, you can lose the love of family members, you can lose your job, you could lose your health if you respond to anger in the wrong way, you can stuff it. Let me just pause here and give a word to parents; when you're frustrated it's very tempting to motivate your kids with anger, why? 'Cause it works in the short term. Anger gets people's attention, there is a short term payoff but in the long-run anger as a parent creates three big problems in kids; it creates anger in them, it creates apathy and it creates alienation. All three; anger, apathy and alienation in kids. Nothing destroys a relationship faster than anger. That's why the Bible says in Proverbs 11:29. "The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left".

So the first step in how to keep cool in a crisis is to realize the cost of uncontrolled anger, all right? It's gonna cost me, it's not worth it. Here's the second step; resolve to manage it. Step two, the Bible says is to resolve to manage my anger. Now what am I saying resolve? I'm saying this is a deliberate choice. You literally say to yourself I'm tired of hurting myself, I'm tired of hurting other people with my anger and I am choosing to change with God's help, I resolve to manage it. Quit saying that you can't control your anger and start realizing you can. Stop making excuses, accept responsibility for your reactions, nobody's holding a gun to your head, you're choosing to get angry. The fact is you have a whole lot more control than you want to admit about your anger and any other emotion.

Have you ever been in a loud angry fight at home and the telephone rang? And you've been in a really heated argument and you've been all worked up and the telephone rings and you pick up the phone and you sweetly say, "Hello". What just happened? You were able to change your tone instantly because you wanted to. You have to resolve to change your anger. Proverbs 29:11 says this, "A fool gives full vent to his anger but a wise man keeps himself under control". If you're taking notes circle the word keep, "A wise man keeps himself under control".

Anger is a choice, it's controllable. What does it mean to keep? It means I've got a choice. When you choose to get angry you're choosing to do so. You have probably said as I have and others, everybody said this. You probably said at some point, "You make me so mad". But the bottom line is nobody can control your emotions without your permission. You see, nothing can make me mad, nothing can make me mad, it's my choice to get mad. And to resolve means to decide in advance. Now this is the second step in anger management. The second step is you must prepare in advance to manage. You know I know it's a weakness in me, I spout off or whatever way whether I'm a mute or I'm a loud exploder, you work on it before it happens, you don't work on it in the heat of the moment. You just say I'm gonna choose to stop being that way.

Step one; realize the cost of anger and step two, resolve to manage it realizing with God's help I can change. Now here's the third step, very important and this is what James talks about; reflect before reacting. Step three in anger management is reflect before reacting. In other words think before you speak. Don't respond impulsively, pause, stop, be quiet. This is where James helps us out greatly. James 1. We've been in this chapter now for about seven weeks. James 1:19-20 says this, "My dear brothers and sisters, always be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to get angry because human anger will never bring about the righteous life that God desires".

Now this verse is literally packed with important spiritual truth and I wanna point out a couple things looking at this verse there on your outline. The whole point of the book of James is to teach us how to live as Christians in crisis. James says if you claim to be a Christian, you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ then you need to act the same way He does in every situation. But James never just gives us a rule of conduct, he always gives us the reason why we should live a certain way and he says you know what? Your behavior is determined by your beliefs and God wants us to treat others the way He treats us.

Whatever he's telling us to do in a crisis, he always makes the point from the inside out. He moves from being internal to external, he moves from being to doing, he moves from character to conduct, he moves from my identity in Christ to my activity in the world, he moves from belief to behavior. He always starts on the inside and moves out, he always tells us why we should do something before he tells us what to do. Now in this case he says, "I want you to be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to get angry," why? He says because that's the way God treats you. He says God is slow to get angry at you and so he says that, you know, if you're a follower of Christ then you need to be like Christ was, He is slow to anger with us. He also says you need to be slow to get angry because anger will never lead you to live the kind of life that God wants you to live. He said it just doesn't work.

Now in this passage that we're looking at today James gives us three action steps in how to reflect before reacting, how to reflect before reacting. Notice, three phrases. First he says, if you wanna control your anger, if you wanna be calm in a crisis first be quick to listen. Did you know that studies show that the quickest way to defuse somebody else's anger is you just calmly and genuinely listen to them? That's it, use your ears. It's the quickest way to defuse somebody's anger, genuinely listen to them. Being listened to calms people down. When you don't feel like you're being listened to that just makes you more angry.

Now I don't explain this to lot of you, you just need to start doing it. When you're angry don't talk first, listen first. And that's all you get out of this message, you're gonna take a giant step toward managing your anger; be quick to listen, don't be quick to speak, don't be quick to get your point across, don't be quick to share your side of story. He says be quick to listen, why? Because listening calms people down, calms you down, calms them down. It's soothing, it relieves fear. When people feel listened to it reduces their frustration, it eases their hurt. So he says to reflect before reacting you just listen, be quick to listen.

Second thing he says in reacting relating and listening first he says be slow to speak. Now why does James say be slow to speak? Because anger control is basically a matter of mouth control, anger control is a matter of mouth control. You tame your temper by taming your tongue. Now James is gonna have a lot more to say about this in the next chapter we're gonna look at that later on. Anger management starts with watching your words. If you're gonna learn to control your anger you must learn how to muzzle your mouth.

The Bible says in Proverbs 29:11, "A stupid man gives free rein to his anger but a wise man waits and lets it grow cool". Notice how delay causes your anger to cool down. Waits, circle the word waits. By the way cool it is a biblical term chill out. He says, "A wise man lets his anger chill out, he lets it cool down". You see delay is a great remedy to anger because the longer you hold your temper the more it improves. So give yourself some time to reflect and to think through. You know Jefferson, the second President of the United States said when you're angry count to 10, he's the guy who thought that up. And he said if you're really angry count to 100, why? Because delay tends to calm you down.

Now the third part of reflecting before reacting is the third thing James says. He says be quick to listen then be slow to speak and then he says be slow to get angry. Now if you do the first two parts of that verse the third will be automatic. If you are quick to listen and you're slow to speak you will automatically be slow to get angry. Now I want you to notice that he twice uses the word slow, two times he uses the word slow in one sentence, why? Because James is trying to get you to delay your response. Delay as I said is a great remedy to anger. So what do you do during the delay while you're waiting, while you're cooling it? What do you do during that way? The answer is this you analyze and you try to understand your anger, you analyze and try to understand it.

Proverbs 19:11 says this, "A man's wisdom gives him patience". The more understanding you have the more patient you're gonna be. Write this down, okay? Write down the more I understand my anger the more understanding I'll be, the more I understand my anger the more understanding I'll be. Now that's not only true of yourself it's true of others; the more I understand my spouse's anger, the more understanding I'll be of my spouse. The more I understand my child's anger the more I'll be understanding of my child. The more I understand my co-worker's anger or my neighbor's anger, the more understanding I will be of them. Now let me give you three questions, write these down.

Three questions to ask yourself that you're considering when you're holding it back, you just put these in your mind. When you're angry the first question asked is why? Why am I angry? And then the second question is what do I really want because something's being frustrated here? What do I really want? Why am I angry? What do I really want? And the third is how can I get it? Blowing up is rarely the best way to get anything, it just doesn't work. What I'm saying is that if you reflect before reacting then you can identify the cause, the root cause of your anger.

Typically the root cause of anger is one of three things; it's hurt or it's frustration or it's fear. First hurt when we're wounded, emotionally wounded or physically wounded. You hit your thumb you get angry. When you get hurt, hurt causes anger. Second, frustration causes anger. When you get irritated, when you're forced to wait, when nothing works, when we can't control a situation. Have you ever had a baby that would not stop crying and you're getting angrier and angrier because you can't make this baby stop crying? You know the more you need to control things in life the higher anger quotient you're gonna have in life, high control equals high anger.

So frustration causes anger. Third cause of anger is fear. And when we get threatened, when we feel attacked, when we feel afraid we get angry. Anger and insecurities go together. The more insecure I feel, the more angry I'm gonna be. And while you're being quick to listen and you're being slow to speak, while you're doing that I would encourage you to silently pray Psalm 141:3. "Lord, help me control my tongue and help me to be careful about what I say". By the way I just throw this in, you know the number one cause of reacting before you reflect? What causes reacting before you reflect? Alcohol. Proverbs 20:1. "Drinking too much makes you loud and foolish. It's stupid to get drunk," why? 'Cause you don't think straight. How many arguments have taken place in alcohol because we react before reflecting instead of reflecting before we react?

All right, let's review. Step one, I realize the cost of anger, it's not worth it, the price is too expensive. There's always a payment to be made and I could lose a lot. Step two, resolve to manage it, make the decision. Stop saying I can't control it and start saying with God's help I can. And step three, James says to reflect before reacting. Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry. Now here is the fourth step release my anger appropriately. Remember I said the problem isn't anger, problem is inappropriate release of it. Ephesians 4:26 in the Bible says, "If you become angry, don't let your anger lead you into sin". Do you realize that you can get angry and not sin? That's what that verse says. It says, "Don't let your anger lead you into sin".

What is he saying? There's a right way and there's a wrong way to express anger, there's an appropriate and inappropriate way to express anger, there's a helpful way and there is a harmful way. It's not the anger, it's how you release it. See, most of us express anger in ways that actually move us farther away from the goal, it doesn't bring us closer to what we want. Our hurt healed, our frustration resolved, our fears relieved. No, no, it moves us further way. Now while on this I wanna expose a myth that many people think and believe about anger that simply isn't true and it here's the idea, that everybody has a set amount of anger, okay? How many gallons of anger you've got in you, like you're carrying a bucket of anger around with you. And the myth is that if you could get rid of all the anger in that bucket and you could pour it all out, like in an outburst and you pour it all out then you're gonna feel a whole lot better because you poured out the bucket.

That sounds nice but it just isn't true, why? Because friend you don't have a bucket of anger inside of you you have a factory, you have a factory of anger, that's human nature. And research shows that anger produces more anger, that aggression produces more aggression, that outbursts lead to more outburst and that more anger leads to more anger not a reduction. And so things will all feel oh I better if I just get it all out, no, it actually becomes a habit. The Bible says in Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer a gentle answer quiets anger but a harsh one stirs it up". Why it is a gentle answer quiet anger? Well, first giving a gentle answer is gonna quiet your own soul. Have you noticed that the louder you speak the more angry you become and if you intentionally talk softer your anger goes down? What's the best way to deal with anger in yourself?

Well, don't suppress it. In other words, store it up inside that could harm your body, don't repress it, that's denying you're angry. You know, there's a word for repressed anger, it's called depression. Don't express it that's in inappropriate ways like sarcasm, like you're an expert of cold cuts and manipulation or getting your own way or attacking or pouting or crazy behavior, don't express it in inappropriate ways. The right way to deal with anger is to confess it, just admit it I'm angry, I'm angry. And then even more important is admit the cause, "I'm really hurt, I'm really frustrated, I'm really afraid". When you're angry at someone and you expressed anger, they get very defensive. But if you say I'm afraid, their defenses go down. If you say I'm hurt, their defenses go down. It's much easier to deal with people's fear or frustration or hurt than it is to deal with anger.

Now the next step that I'm gonna give you from Scripture is a key to permanent long term change, here it is, number five. I repattern my mind, I repattern my mind. I learned to think in new ways. The way you express your anger right now it's a learned response, you learned it. Now since you learned how to get angry and you learned, somebody modeled it for you, okay? I don't know who it was but somebody modeled it for you and you learned how to get angry. Here's the good news, anything that's learned can be unlearned, it can be unlearned. Romans 12:2. "Don't copy the behaviors and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person," how? "By changing the way you think".

Now follow me on this. You got repattern your mind for permanent anger management. You see you act angry because you feel angry and you feel angry because you're thinking angry thoughts, okay? Your thoughts determine your emotions, your emotions determine your actions. If you wanna break the habit of anger then you're gonna have to do some mental reconditioning and you change the way you think. Now have you noticed that we often pick up, it's what the what scientists called mirror neurons in our brain. That when other people get loud you get loud too, have you noticed that? Anger is contagious, it's contagious and that's why the Bible says you need to be aware.

In fact Proverbs 22:24 says this, "Keep away from angry short-tempered people or you'll learn to be like them," okay? In other words anger is contagious, anger can infect others. That's why you wanna keep kids out of gangs 'cause they create anger. Now kids learn from models that they observe and anytime you lose your temper you're modeling it for your kids, you're teaching them how to be angry. And the shameful little secret in millions of homes is that out of control anger is hurting families. Last year four million wives were beaten by angry husbands, last year 10 million children were beaten severely by parents who simply didn't know how to control their anger. These are not bad people, they don't know how to control their anger. Proverbs 11:29, "If you exploit or abuse your family, you'll end up with a fistful of air," that's message. Colossians 3:19, "You husbands must love your wives, never treat them harshly". If this is going on in your family it has to stop now. You say how?

Number six, the sixth step. Ask God to fill me with His love, ask God to fill me with His love. This is the real secret of God's power to change you from an angry person into a peaceful person, a calm person, a composed person, a heart at peace. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, "Love is not easily angered". Love is not easily angered. So if I'm filled with God's love almost nothing can upset me but if I'm filled with anger almost anything will upset me. Romans 15:5, "Patience and encouragement come from God. I pray that God will help you all agree with each other the way Christ Jesus wants". God wants us to live in harmony. What am I saying? Your relationship to Christ, listen, will determine how patient you are. Your relationship to Christ will determine how well you master the anger in your life, you can change.

I'm here to tell you the good news that even in a crisis where people are out of work and kids are at home and people are, you know, of having to be in isolation, you can change with God's love inside you. When my kids were growing up they used to drink a little thing that was kind of like yogurt inside or sometimes it had applesauce inside, they were called squeezes. When you squeeze that the stuff would come out. Whatever is inside of you is gonna come out when you're squeezed and when the pressure is on tension and temper go together, pressure and anger go together. That's why there's an epidemic of irritability while there's an epidemic of COVID-19. My challenge to you, particularly those of you who are married and you're at home is that you husbands and you wives make a commitment to work on managing your anger together during this crisis.

How does God help me manage my anger? Well, the Bible says in Galatians 5:22, "The fruit of the Spirit is patience". God deals with the root cause in your life and He wants to put fruit in your life, the fruit of patience but He's got to deal with the root; what's the root? What's the root problem that causes my anger? Matthew 12:34, Jesus says this; "Whatever is in your heart determines what you say". So the heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. When it comes to anger the heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. The problem isn't my tongue, it's my heart. My mouth betrays what I'm really like inside. We've all given the excuse, "I don't know why I said, that's not like me". Yes it is. The heart of the problem is a problem of the heart, you say what's in your heart.

Now if I got bad water in a well painting the pump won't help, I gotta change the water. My mouth just betrays what's inside of me. For instance, someone with a harsh tongue is revealing an angry heart, someone with a negative tongue is revealing a fearful heart, someone with a boasting tongue is revealing an insecure heart and someone with an overactive tongue, they talk at all time is revealing an unsettled heart. Someone with a guilty tongue, a judgemental tongue is revealing a guilty heart. I'm judging you 'cause I feel guilty. Somebody with a critical tongue is revealing a bitter heart and somebody with a filthy tongue is revealing an impure heart. On the other hand, somebody with an encouraging tongue, there always given an encouraging word they're revealing a happy heart. Somebody with the gentle tongue is revealing a loving heart, somebody with a controlled tongue is revealing a peaceful heart.

What you and I need is a new heart. Fortunately God specializes in heart transplants. David said, "Create in me a clean heart oh God". Jesus can heal your hurting heart with His love. Maybe in the past you have felt rejected or abused or unloved, I want you to know that Jesus cares about your pain, your pain matters to God. And Jesus can replace your frustrated heart with His peace and Jesus can replace your insecure heart with His power. You know, if you pick up a crying baby and you give it warmth and acceptance, it stops crying and when you start feeling secure and accepted in the love of God your inability or irritability nosedives, it nosedives. Now what are you gonna do about this? Every week here at Saddleback Church we do several things at the end of our service. First, we recommit our lives to Jesus Christ, I want us to do that right now. And if you've never given your life to Christ for the very first time, I wanna invite you to follow me. First, let me pray for you and then we'll pray together, let's bow our heads.

Father, it's sad but it's true that we often get angry at the people we love the most, often we get the most angry at the people were closest to because we forget that you are the source of all we need not others. Jesus, help us to remember that when we expect anyone other than you to meet our deepest needs, we're gonna be disappointed and we're gonna get angry. Father, I'm certain that there are many people listening to me right now who are struggling with irritability and short temper and anger due to the hurt or the frustration or the insecurity of the fear that they're feeling during this crisis and I pray for them that today they will experience hope and healing in a brand-new way.

Now you pray, say something like this in your heart. If you're at home by yourself say it aloud. Say "Dear God", just call it out to God.

Dear God, I admit that I have a problem with my anger. Just say that, I admit I've got a problem with my anger and I need your help. And today God with your help, I am resolving to learn how to manage my anger. Jesus I'm very aware of the way my anger is hurt other people. And please forgive me for trying to control things and then getting angry when I can't. Help me to reflect before reacting, just say that; help me to reflect before reacting. Help me to learn to release my anger appropriately. Say, help me to learn to repattern my mind with your Word. And this most important of all say, Jesus Christ today I open up my life completely to your love, fill me with your love, fill me with love that it pushes out all the irritability and all the anger. Save me, change me, make the changes in me that only you can make. I wanna trust you with my life. Amen.

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