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Being Good and Angry (1)

May 18, 2008

today at church, i was a substitute teacher in my sunday school class. i taught about anger from ephesians 4:26-32. over the next few days, i will post my teaching notes as a series here. i hope you enjoy them. unless noted otherwise, all scripture passages are taken from the english standard version.

Being Good and Angry

As a kid in the early ’70’s, one of the TV shows I liked to watch was the, “The Incredible Hulk.” The main character was a scientist named Dr. David Banner. Most of the time, he was a nice guy. But when he become angry he would repeat those famous words, “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I am angry.” And if the person ignored his warning, right before your eyes he would transform into Lou Ferrigno, this big green monster.

The whole series was built around Dr. Banner’s search for a cure. Dr. Banner didn’t like what anger did to him and he did all he could to prevent it from happening.

The message many got from the series is that anger is always bad, anger will turn a normal person into a monster. Anger will turn you into someone you don’t want to be. As a result the best way of dealing with anger is to never express it, because anger is so volatile the best way to manage anger is to repress it. And that is how many people deal with anger today.

However, in Ephesians 4, God gives us a different way of looking at anger. Instead of dismissing anger as evil, Paul tells us that anger can be a good and healthy emotion. Anger itself is not wrong; it is the reasons and motivations for our anger that cause us to loose control.

Ephesians 4:26-4:32 ESV
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And 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. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I would like for us to talk about six ways to look at anger. The first three are descriptions of anger and the last three describe what happens when anger takes control.

1. Anger is a Normal Emotion.

Be angry and do not sin (v. 26a)
In your anger do not sin (NIV)
Be angry BUT do not sin (RSV)
Be ye angry, AND sin not (KJV)

This is one of those passages that no matter how you slice it and dice it, I comes out about the same. The point I want us to get is it is possible to be angry and not sin. Anger, in and of itself, is not bad, God created anger for a good purpose – with good intentions.

You might remember the story of Jesus entering the temple. When Jesus saw what the religious leaders had done to corrupt the temple, Jesus became angry. His anger was not directed at hurting people but at the wrong things they had done in God’s name. Jesus was angry because the people had violated God and His anger was an expression of God’s anger. Jesus demonstrates that it is possible to be angry and not sin. There is such a thing as good anger or godly anger.

The question we need to ask is this: What did Jesus do that allowed Him to express His anger in healthy ways?

The answer is found in His FOCUS. Jesus never allowed His emotions or pain to take His focus off of God and onto himself. Jesus was able to keep God as His first priority even when He was angry. Our problem is we seldom become angry for the right reasons or motives. Human anger tends to be self-motivated rather than God-motivated. We become angry when someone does something that hurts or offends us. Human anger is generally a weapon we use to defend our pride.

Anger is like a fire. If the fire is controlled, it can be helpful and productive but if the fire gets out of control it can be harmful and deadly. Anger is the same way! Though anger is a natural emotion, we must be careful how we use it because it can have devastating effects.

Aristotle said it this way, “Anybody can become angry… But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – this is not within everybody’s power….”

In other words anger is a normal emotion, but we must be very careful how we express it.

i will post the next couple of points soon.

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