Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way
We are using a companion to the word of God on this issue. The Book by Dr. Gary Chapman, Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way. If you do not have a copy I recommend you buy one on line or let us order you one. Download one to your computer, smartphone, or book reader.
Do you remember the basic Dictionary Definition for anger? – “a strong passion or emotion of displeasure, and usually antagonism, excited by a sense of injury or insult.”
So we see anger at its heart is the result of something we feel is not RIGHT or JUST
It is more though than a simple emotion, what is it? physiological response of body, mind, and will.
What does our author say is the root source for Anger? It is in the NATURE OF GOD.
What are the two aspects of God’s nature that are involved in Anger? His Holiness and His Love
Anger is NOT Evil
Anger is NOT sin …
Anger means we were created BY God and LIKE God
So, hopefully you have already read Chapter 2 …if not then get caught up with us this week
What does Dr. Chapman say that Anger is designed to Do at the beginning of Chapter 2? Human anger is designed by God to motivate us to take constructive action in the face of wrongdoing or when facing injustice (p22)
Our problem is that our anger is tainted by our sin and selfishness … So often our anger is the result of perceived wrong or injustice that is actually just us upset because it didn’t go the way we wanted.
But we want to reclaim anger just like everything else the devil stole from us and restore it to what was intended. The battlefield is in our minds, our thought process, our emotions.
That’s why Paul, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
So our anger must come under obedience to truth and it’s designed intention.
God’s anger is directly connected to his love. So what was his process in the Old Testament?(p23)
-He sent a prophet to proclaim his displeasure and call to repentance
-If they repented, his anger went away … all is good
-If not, additional action followed
What does God always WANT in his anger? He wants us to turn … he wants to exhibit mercy and grace
Jeremiah 3:12-14 “return faithless Israel … I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful … I will not be angry forever … acknowledge your guilt … return”
How does God express his anger? In “Positive Action”
His anger is “always for the LARGER GOOD of Humankind”(p24)
What Made Jesus angry? “Zeal for the House of the Lord” – John 2:17 … Jesus didn’t get angry even about personal attacks because he expected those, but he did defend the integrity of the House of God from those who claimed to respect it but did not
I notice too that Jesus didn’t attack the Pagan Government, but the Religious establishment … whom he said had a “form of godliness” but no substance
So, on page 26 Chapman says “the divine model is clear: God’s response to anger is always to take loving action, to stop the evil, and to redeem the evildoer”(p26)
So What About Us?
Chapman says “anger is not designed to stimulate us to do destructive things to people who may have wronged us … Anger’s foundational purpose is to motivate us to positive, loving action that will leave things better than we found them”(p26)
Chapman says that “Anger is like a red light on the dash” … how so? it indicates that something needs attention
I have to ask some questions when I am angry
-Are my reactions motivated by fear or by love?
-Are my actions self-controlled or out of control?
-What positive action do I need to take?
-What am I afraid of?
-Am I angry for the larger good? Is this big or petty?
I notice of myself, that my anger is often connected to my current view of myself.
If I am not having “success” or am “disrespected” my fuse is proportionately shorter
Another issue I have to deal with is contempt. If I am not careful I can have contempt toward someone which means that I think they are worthless or beneath me
I know that’s not right, and in my heart of hearts it isn’t the way I feel when I think straight and surrender to God’s Spirit, but in my flesh …
I will give you an example. I think one of the things that God places within Pastors is a feeling that what we have to say, when it is from the Lord is critical and important. We want you to hear and believe the Word of the Lord that comes through us. The danger is that this GOOD thing placed in us by God, is susceptible to being perverted by the sin that is within me as a human. So, when I don’t feel like someone is listening to me, or ignoring me or otherwise disrespecting me, it makes me agitated … that’s just another way of saying ANGRY … and if I am not aware, I will exhibit anger that appears to be righteous, but may not always be so. They may not be disrespecting me or challenging my words, they just may be concerned about other things, or maybe what I have to say isn’t worth listening to J …
Sometimes we are angry because we are afraid of what someone is thinking or feeling about you in an instance. You are disrespected, or you are insulted, or you don’t perform well and you are afraid of what someone may think, perhaps your children act up in public and instead of dealing with the behavior you act in a way that is not right because you are afraid of what someone else might think.
But Anger is driven by Love and a desire for repentance and to show mercy and for restoration of a relationship …
God’s Anger on Display
Look with me quickly at this chapter … let’s read it together … Numbers 14:1-35
Why Was God Angry?
- They didn’t want to go into the Promised Land
- They doubted his Word
- They Questioned His Goodness
- They Chose to Go Back –
“let us choose another to lead us back to Egypt” – so they were choosing other gods over God
- God’s Glory / Reputation was being Questioned
What Does God Do?
- Appear at the Tent of Meeting – Confrontation
- Pronounce Impending Complete and Immediate Destruction and removal of promise
- How Did They Respond?
- Moses Came to the Tent of Meeting,
he responded to the Lord’s appearance as an invitation to address the problem
- Moses Interceded for the people,
confessing sin and pleading for forgiveness v12
- He Appeals to God’s Glory
saying it will damage God’s Glory to do this thing
What is the 1st Commandment? No Other God’s Before Me
What is the 1st Thing Jesus taught us to Pray “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
Both are about God’s Honor
When we come to God in accordance to his Glory and Honor we are where God wants us to be. Not “Lord I’m sorry I made you mad” or “I’m sorry I lost your blessing” … but “Lord I have damaged your reputation”
V17 Moses says “May your strength be displayed”
- Moses revealed what God wanted,
that is that he understood what was important and that is the advancement of the Glory and Honor of God
When someone has wronged us and repents and asks forgiveness, what we want is to see that they understand the real nature of the trespass
- By the way, this is a great prayer to pray for America like v19 we can pray “Lord, According to your love, forgive our sin … just as you have in the past”
Today, just as then, I believe the Lord wants us to show that we really care.
How Does God Respond?
- He Forgives – this is the first and most important response.
God always responds to repentance with forgiveness.
- He Declares that Consequences Remain
These are the results of their continued failure to believe and continuing to call God’s Goodness into question. V 22 God says they have disobeyed and Tested him 10 times … the point being that their time of full exoneration was over … their opportunity for complete blessing was gone … Only God knows when his patience has reached it’s limit.
So they were given according to V28 “I will do what I heard you say” … they get what they expected …
- Yet even in the punishment he was lovingly caring for their children
v3 says they were worried, and he was TEACHING the Next Generation a powerful lesson.
- God’s desire is that the earth be filled with his Glory
in our experience as it is in the Spiritual Realm
- This does not mean that they each were disqualified from Heaven.
God forgave them! Whether they went to Heaven or not depended on each one and how they responded to God. He revealed what is needed to be clean before God … v24 says of Caleb “Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land” And so if they respond to God, while they may not enter Canaan, they can still enter eternal rest.
God’s Anger was FOR his Glory and FOR the Good of the People
Now, I want you to break up into smaller groups of 3-5 … and discuss the questions and reflections on the book … Focus first on the Reflections … then on the questions as time permits … and then please spend some time on the Personal Application at home in your time alone as it will help you as you begin this journey on handling anger in a healthy way.
Please save some time at the end of your discussion to share prayer requests and answered prayers with the group and pray together