On Sunday we looked at the topic of anger. And, in general, I think anger is something we live with, rather than deal with in our lives. But I believe it is something that needs to be dealt out. The more we deal with anger, and learn to live free from anger the wholer and more healthy our relationships. Anger severs relationships, anger kills friendships, and anger wrecks families and connections. And while we often try to control it, manage, or curb it – I believe we can live free from it if we deal with it.
So that’s what we looked at on Sunday. And I began by reading a quote from Dallas Willard who writes this, “He says that anger primarily happens when our will’s or desires are limited or stopped.” And I think this is true. Anger is triggered when our will’s or desires are stopped or limited. Think about a child in the grocery store not getting what they want, and throwing a tantrum (why do they have candy so close to the cart in checkouts…?). The point is that anger alerts us to the fact that what we want, isn’t happening. That’s at the root of what anger is and what it does.
And Paul is clear, this immediate feeling of anger isn’t wrong or bad. It’s simply a natural response. And it is not a sin. What matters is our response to this feeling of anger. Do we indulge it, entertain it, stoke it, or deal with it. Paul says this in Ephesians 4:25, “In your anger do not sin”. The problem isn’t the anger; the problem is how we deal with the anger. We all get angry, but our responses to anger determine the health of our relationships.
Paul continues saying, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil”. And what he is teaching is really clear: anger undealt with gives the enemy room to move. Anger that isn’t dealt with gives the enemy a foothold. Anger that isn’t dealt with grows, festers, and gets ready to burst out.
This is the difficulty with anger; we simply don’t honestly deal with it. We shove it down, ignore it, or pretend it isn’t there. All the while it’s growing, lurking, and getting ready to explode. If you have ever seen someone explode over something minor (a parking spot, a thing a work, or at a sporting event), they do this not because that one event made them angry. They do this because a whole series, or months, or years of events have made them angry that they haven’t dealt with. Whenever anyone overreacts and explodes, it’s not because they’ve had a bad day, it’s because they’ve had a string of bad days that haven’t been dealt with. The anger is just there bubbling and boiling below the surface waiting for any one thing to release it. In a word, when we don’t deal with anger, it becomes chronic.
Anger is dangerous because it becomes a habit or an indulgence we can’t control. Dallas Willard puts it this way. He says we cannot stop the feelings of anger that arise in certain situations. But he says this:
“But we can and usually do choose or will to be angry. But we can actively receive it and decide to indulge it, and we usually do. We may even become an angry person, and any incident can evoke from us a torrent of rage that is kept in constant readiness.”
This is why we need to deal with anger, so that it doesn’t control us and lurk below the surface.
So on Sunday we ended by looking at how to live free from anger. We focused on taking Paul’s advice, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”. Deal with it instead. Because if you go to bed angry, you just wake up with a low-level frustration and a distinct lack of desire to deal with the issues. And this happens all the time especially in marriages. So Paul’s advice is this: deal with the anger. And he gives us a time limit – you have till bed-time to make some progress with it. Deal with it that day because if you don’t, you won’t.
We gave some simple suggestions for how to deal with anger. First, learn to name why you angry. This is actually harder than it sounds because usually there is something beneath the obvious answer. We aren’t angry our spouse didn’t take out the garbage, we’re angy we had to ask 8 times and don’t feel like they follow through. We aren’t angry our kids spent that extra $20 we are upset they weren’t responsible. We need to learn to name why we are really angry if we want to deal with it.
The second step is to choose the right time to deal with anger. This is never when someone just walks in from work, while you drop them off at school, or at a party with friends. The point is that we need to choose times when we can honestly work it through. If its important enough to bring up, its important enough to find the right time to bring it up.
And lastly we need to ready to give it up. Sometimes we honestly like being angry. We like the feeling of self-righteousness it brings. We want the other person to hurt like we did, so we hold onto the anger and refuse to reconcile and forgive. So we need to ask before we bring up an issue, “are we ready to leave this behind?” It’s a good question to get in the habit of asking.
So we gave those three steps deal with it the day of by: naming it, choosing the right time to deal with it, and being ready to get rid of it. And if we do that I think we’ll have not only fuller lives, but fuller relationships.
Big Idea: Don’t let the sun go down on your anger
- Anger is something that we seem to live with, rather than deal with
- “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.”
- “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil”. Epehesiasn 4:25
- Anger is the response we have to when our will’s are stopped.
- The issue isn’t whether we feel angry, the issue is how we respond to that feeling.
- Anger becomes chronic, when not dealt with
- “But we can and usually do choose or will to be angry. But we can actively receive it and decide to indulge it, and we usually do. We may even become an angry person, and any incident can evoke from us a torrent of rage that is kept in constant readiness”. Dallas Willard
- Don’t let the sun go down on your anger
- Deal with it that day, because if you don’t – you won’t.
- There is nothing that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it
- Steps away from Anger: Name it, Choose the right time to deal with it, be ready to get rid of it
Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Have you ever seen someone explode over something minor before? How did you feel or what did you think when you saw it happen? Would you say anger is a real temptation for you? Why or why not? What do you think of Dallas Willard’s quote, there is nothing that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it. Do you believe it is true? Is there anything anger in your life you need to deal with today? How can you deal with it well?
Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids abour anger. Today is a great day if there have been times where yelling, and anger have been pretty prevalent to ask for forgiveness. Share with them what you learned bout anger, and how you want to live differently. Talk to your kids about the principle of “dealing with your anger in the day” and that’s how you want the family to run. That if they are angry to come talk, to get it out in the open and deal with it. Don’t let anger fester.
Challenge for this Week: Deal with the anger that day