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.
Our author says that anger is rooted in the in the NATURE OF GOD.
What are the two aspects of God’s nature that are involved in Anger? His Holiness and His Love
What does Dr. Chapman say that Anger is designed to Do at the beginning of Chapter Two? Human anger is designed by God to motivate us to take constructive action in the face of wrongdoing or when facing injustice (p22)
We want to reclaim anger and we know we don’t do it right and it is often controlled by our sinful nature not our Spiritual Nature in Christ.
So what does Paul tell us to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5 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.
If we were honest, we would have to say that most of the time the way we act out our anger is to serve our OWN AGENDA …
I was perusing Aesop’s Fables today and found this:
The Wolf and the Lamb
A wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf’s right to eat him. He thus address him: “Sirrah, lasy year you grossly insulted me.” “Indeed”, bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, “I was not then born.” Then said the Wolf, “You feed in my pasture.” “No good sir,” replied the Lamb, “I have not yet tasted grass.” Again said the Wolf, “You drink of my well.” “No,” exclaimed the Lamb, “I never yet drank water, for as yet my mother’s milk is both food and drink to me.” Upon which the Wolf seized him and ate him up saying, “Well! I won’t remain supperless, even though you refute every one of my imputations.”
The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny.
We have to be careful that our OWN AGENDA and our OWN Desires do not DRIVE our actions toward others, anger included …
Chapter three talks about Anger toward others with whom we are in a relationship. That could be family member, roommate, co-worker, neighbor, or friend.
Are we ANGRY for a GOOD reason? … now you can take that question in a few ways, do you have a RIGHT to be angry and do you have RIGHT as the reason for your anger? That is really what he is talking about here. Is there a good purpose for our anger.
Dr. Chapman says we need to ask a two questions about processing our anger … do you remember them?
1)Is my response positive – i.e. am I dealing with the wrong and healing the relationship?
2)Is my response loving – i.e. is my response designed to benefit the person with whom I am angry because of the wrong they have done to me
And we are talking about VALID anger, which is anger that comes from genuine wrongdoing of someone toward you.
So then our writer gives us Five Step Process for Dealing with Valid Anger
1)Acknowledge The Anger –
“I am angry” – It is important that YOU realize you are angry … now you can apply reason to it and not just let it be an emotion driven response
2)Restrain Immediate Response –
many ways you can do this, distance and time are good ways to do this. Count to 1000 … Take a Walk … When I found out the bad news about our house, we were on the way home from church. I was overwhelmed with the news … I didn’t really know how to respond, all kinds of things were rising up in me … then I just made a decision, Lisa was driving, I said “honey pull over, I am fine, but I need to walk, this is closing in on me, I’ll call you in a bit.” Fortunately it was a nice late September Night. I didn’t take into account how far we were away from home, but I walked home, 4 and one half miles! But in the Hour it took me to walk home, I was able to process the information and have a course of response by the time I got home. I made a couple of phone calls to help process it. Then I called Lisa to reconfirm to her that I was fine and would be home soon. … Restraining your anger helps you keep from doing something you will regret
3) Locate Focus –
What is the real issue? How serious is this issue on a scale of 1-10
4) Analyze Your Options –
Write them down – even the BAD options, write them down … then ask Which are Prudent? Which are Positive and Loving? Confrontation, Letting It Go, Giving it to God, Forbearance (that is bearing the weight yourself), Legal Action … Popping them in the Nose … those are all OPTIONS
5)Take Constructive Action –
If Confrontation, Gal 6:1 says “restore gently” … Luke 17:3 says “if your brothers sins, rebuke him, if he repents, forgiven him” .. So if they are repentant, you must forgive. Rebuke is NOT abuse, it is laying the weight of the offense at their feet kindly and firmly. But you may want to write it out before saying it, read it out loud and see if it sounds like you intend. I know that takes all the fun out of shouting it all out in the heat of the moment.
Let it Go … may be an option – that is praying and giving it to God – and may be constructive, but be prepared for what that means for you in bearing the weight of the offense. (share story of my situation with record company)
We cannot FORCE people to confess, repent and reconcile but we can control OUR response.
We will not always get justice but we can get restoration
God’s Anger on Display
Deuteronomy 9 and 10
In these chapters, we find a little more background information to some of what we have read the last two weeks. As a matter of fact we get greater detail into how Moses pleaded on behalf of the people when God had warned that he was about to destroy them all and start over with Moses and his offspring.
Now, this is 40 years AFTER our previous encounters we read in Numbers. The Children of Israel have wandered in the desert for 40 years until all those over 20 had died in the desert. Now their children and grandchildren are ready to cross over. Moses is giving instructions before he hands them over to Joshua. He is reminding them of what God has done in displaying his anger.
He reminds them that their people had “PROVOKED the Lord your God to Anger in the desert.” (9:7) and that “from the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord” …
I don’t have time to read all of this but let me draw your attention to a few things
Why Was God Angry?
Moses accounts for them many of the times and ways they had questioned God. They had challenged his goodness and his holiness, his commands and ways. And many times God had been angry.
- Worshipped a calf at Sinai
- Questioned God’s Food Provision
- Refused to go into Canaan for fear of those inside
- Desired to just return to Egypt and their old bondage
V 9:13 “I’ve seen this people and they are a stiff-necked people indeed!”
What Does God Do?
When they worshipped the calf at Sinai and God judged them, some died that day. When they questioned his food supplies God judged them and some got sick and died
When they doubted and wouldn’t enter the Promised Land he pronounced that non over the age of 20 would enter, except Caleb and Joshua and all would be “homeless” for 40 years until all died and then the younger generation would enter the Promise
What was the GOOD REASON behind God’s Anger?
- He desired for them to REPENT and MAKE A CHANGE
If you go and read chapters 9 and 10 … you will find Moses skips around a little in the story, but he is telling a story for a purpose to teach the younger generation about God and themselves and NOT give a history lesson …
- He wanted them to FEAR him … in an Awesome way, in a life changing way
READ Dt. 10:12-22
Do you see the purpose in the anger? It was to root out the evil attitudes, the selfishness, and the destructive patterns and point those willing in the right direction so they could and would be in right relationship with God.
God’s anger for a good reason:
- That they would fear God
- Walk in His ways
- Love Him and Serve Him - With all their heart, and all their soul
- And obey all his commands
God wanted the BEST for them … there was GOOD reason, GOOD purpose in his Anger …
- What about us?
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