Being Good and Angry (3)
4. Unresolved Anger is an Open Invitation for Evil.
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. (vs. 27-28)
That word “opportunity” literally means place or foothold.
When anger gets a foothold in your life, you are more susceptible to doing things you would not normally do – even stealing. Paul is addressing a real problem that was happening in his churches. Because the people were angry with each other they stopped caring and started stealing. Anger caused them to loose their concern for the community and start focusing instead on themselves.
Unresolved anger causes us to ask the question: “What is best for me?” Anger makes us more aware of what we want and less concerned about what is right or best for others.
A man of quick temper acts foolishly. (Proverbs 14:17)
A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. (Proverbs 29:22)
You might remember the story of Cain and Able. Cain became angry at Able because God valued Able’s offering above Cain’s. When God noticed the anger that was building in Cain’s heart God warned him in Genesis 4:
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)
Instead of listening to God Cain allowed his anger to get the best of Him and it resulted in the death of his brother. I imagine Cain’s first thought was not to kill his brother. It was only after anger took control that he did what he normally would not do. Unresolved anger turned a bitter Cain into a killer.
A very similar event happened in the life of Alexander the Great. Though Alexander literally conquered the world he was unable to control his anger. Alexander had a friend and a general in his army named Cletus. On one occasion Cletus became drunk and ridiculed the emperor in front of his men. Blinded by his anger Alexander snatched a spear and threw it at Cletus. Though he had intended to scare him the spear took the life of his childhood friend. As a result Alexander was overcome with guilt and attempted to take his own life. History records that Alexander fell into a deep depression, and that he lay in bed for days calling for his friend.
One historian writing about this event said, “Alexander the Great conquered many countries, but he failed miserably to conquer his own self.”
When anger gets a hold on your life you are prone to doing things you will later regret.
5. Unresolved Anger is Lethal When Molded Into Words.
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. (v. 29)
Quick and careless words cause more damage to people than any other known force in the world. When we allow unresolved anger to build within us it will eventually explode into harmful words.
Every year many people are killed all over the world by unexploded bombs. I recently read that hundreds of pounds of explosives are recovered every year in France alone. Many of these bombs were dropped in WW I and II and are now turning up all across Europe. They fell harmlessly from the sky but over the years their contents have sat exposed to the elements. With time and corrosion they have become more and more dangerous, any slight movement could set them off.
There are many people who are like those aging bombs. When anger lingers in the human heart any small problem can set it off, resulting in lethal words. These are words that destroy relationships and damage lives.