“ANGER, the Burning Fuse of Hostility”
Psalms 37:8, “Cease from ANGER, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.”
In Proverbs 15:1-2, "A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up ANGER. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.”
In Proverbs 15:18, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to ANGER appeaseth strife.”
In Proverbs 16:32, "He that is SLOW TO ANGER is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."
I understand that the American Statesmen Thomas Jefferson was credited with this statement, "When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, to a hundred."
I would say that many of us have a problem dealing with anger effectively. Anger has a way of disarming us, robbing us of our testimony, and injuring our relationships in both the home as well as in the church. Anger is no humorous matter. Unless it is understood, admitted to, and kept under control, it will literally slay us.
One defined anger in this way, "Anger is an emotional reaction of hostility that brings personal displeasure either to ourselves or to someone else." They went on to say this:
It can begin with mild irritation (an innocent experience of being upset) then turn to indignation (a feeling that something must be answered or avenged). Both irritation and indignation can go unexpressed.
If fed, indignation leads to wrath, which never goes unexpressed. Then it increases to fury (which suggests violence, even a loss of emotional control) and finally rage.
Now in the New Testament one of the key passages on anger is found in Ephesians 4:26-32 where we read,
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil. (28) Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (29) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
Here we have three Greek words for ANGER:
In verse 26 the word ANGER is the Greek word ORGIZO.
In verse 26 the word WRATH is the Greek word PARORGISMOS. This is an anger accompanied by irritation and embitterment.
In verse 31 the word WRATH is the Greek word THUMOS. This is an emotion that boils up and soon subsides, then boils up again and then subsides. This is an anger that is sin.
Reading verse 26, we find this to be a direct quote from Psalm 4:4, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” The words were probably recorded at the time King David was fleeing from Absolom, his own son, who was bringing dishonor to the Lord and the King.
David was saying, in the midst of righteous anger to just quietly get into the presence of the Lord so that you will be able to look at things from a proper standpoint. More than likely, your own failures will come to mind, and the many, many times that God in His grace has had to forgive you. Then instead of getting up on the judgment seat to beat the Tom-Toms of your wrath while thinking of the failures of others, you will be led to self-examination.
From verse 26, I call your attention to three important truths:
First: ANGER IS A GOD-GIVEN EMOTION. God is saying, "Get Mad! Become Angry!" There's something inhuman about a person who never gets angry or who shows no compassion or love or who shows no joy or sadness. Remember even God is a God of love as well as a God of wrath. These emotions are God-given, and He says it is OK to express them.
Second: ANGER IS NOT NECESSARILY SINFUL. In the Old Testament "the anger of the Lord" is mentioned no fewer than 18 times, for example:
Deuteronomy 6:15 "For the Lord thy God is a jealous God among you, lest the ANGER of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth."
Nehemiah 9:17, "…but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to ANGER, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not."
Nahum 1:3, "The Lord is slow to ANGER, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked…"
Psalm 103:8-9, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to ANGER, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his ANGER forever."
Psalm 145:8, "The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to ANGER; and of great mercy."
In the New Testament we have some classic examples of Jesus’ anger:
Remember the two times in John 2:13-18 and Matthew 21:12-13 that Jesus went into the Temple and drove out the money changers and merchants saying, "Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise, but a house of prayer."
Remember the time in Matthew 23:13-36 that Jesus addressed the religious hypocrites, namely the Pharisees, who were self-righteous on the outside, but as rotten as dead man’s bones on the inside. He called them fools and pronounced woes on them.
But on the other hand, you know it is interesting how Jesus was very loving, compassionate and forgiving to sinners such as:
Zachaeus, the wee little tax collector found in a tree,
The woman at the well who had had five husbands, and
The woman taken in adultery.
He met them, loved them, saved them, and sent them on their way without holding their sin over them.
Again back to Ephesians 4:26, God is saying, "Be angry, and yet do not sin." Not every expression of anger is wrong. Be angry, but don't carry that anger to the point it becomes sin.
Third: ANGER MUST HAVE SAFEGUARDS. When Paul said, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger," he meant don't prolong your anger. In other words clear it up before you turn in. Get up and address the issue even if you have to get up and make a phone call or get in your car and go to someone. Another safeguard in verse 27, "Do not give the Devil an opportunity."
Under the control of the Devil, there will be anger turned to wrath, bitterness, resentment and or lashing out with evil speaking.
In contrast, under the control of the Holy Spirit, the character of Christ will flow freely to have its way by showing His love, His gentleness, His compassion, His joy and His concern even though angry.
Now we must understand there is what we call JUSTIFIABLE ANGER and there is what we call UNJUSTIFIABLE ANGER. One is sinful and wrong and the other is what's indicated by the word, JUSTIFIABLE.
I. What is Justifiable Anger? Anger is a tool to be used only when it is needed; therefore, it is not to be used all of the time. I must confess to the fact that I did have a hot temper that was not always justifiable. However, now, thank the Lord, I seldom lose my temper. So then when is anger justified?
First: When God's Word and God's will are knowingly disobeyed by God's people. Something should happen in the heart of the child of God who sees other believers sinning openly, ignoring and disobeying the will of God.
Moses was distressed over the children of Israel worshipping around the golden calf, so in ANGER; he broke the tablets of the Commandments in Exodus 23:19-20.
Jesus became very angry with the merchandising going on in the house of God, so with a whip to get their attention, He drove them out of the temple.
Second: When God's enemies assume positions or jurisdictions outside their rights. This is when enemies threaten the freedom of God's people. Isaiah 5:22-23 tells us, "Woe unto them…who…take away the righteousness of the righteous from him."
II. What is Unjustifiable Anger? We must look at the other side of the coin. When is anger unjustified?
First: Unjustifiable anger is when anger comes from the wrong motive. A perfect example of this would be the Prodigal Son's older brother who did not share his father's joy over the younger son's return. Notice in Luke 15:28-31, how his anger resulted from an unjustified jealousy, "And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and in treated him. (29) And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: (30) But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. (31) And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."
When we are jealous of some other person, our response is frequently one of anger, especially when that other person receives commendation or promotion or attention from others, that we believe should have been given to us.
Second: Unjustifiable anger comes when things don't go our way. Let's be honest, in most cases, we really do like to have our own way. Jonah is a classic example here:
Number 1: He was angry at God for even thinking of sending him to Nineveh, so he went against God and for that ended up in a whale of a problem.
Number 2: After preaching repentance to the people of the city of Nineveh, he got angry because possibly up to a half a million people repented.
He did not want Nineveh to repent; he wanted God to destroy them. He got angry because things didn't go his way. Afterward the Lord said in Jonah 4:4, "Do thou well to be angry?" But Jonah went to a hillside, refusing to answer the Lord. He sat down under a nice, leafy gourd vine to enjoy a little shade and forget about Nineveh. But a little worm ate up that plant. Jonah got hot and begged God to take his life. Then God said to Jonah in verse 9 "Do thou well to be angry of the gourd?" And Jonah answered and said, do well to be angry, even unto death.”
The real test of our Christianity is not when we sit in church on Sunday or Wednesday, but when we are faced with people and situations throughout the week that test our resolve and things all around us don't go our way.
Third: Unjustifiable anger comes when we react too quickly without investigating the facts.
In Ecclesiastics 7:8-9 we read, "…the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools."
In James 1:19 we are told, "…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."
Showing a patient spirit and hearing a matter out is better than just hearing the beginning. If we are eager in our hearts to be angry, we're foolish. How true that is even with spiritual matters as well as matters within the church.
Too much is made of a thing that has not been completely explained by the concerned person or the situation at hand. All too often we just jump to a conclusion without investigating the facts. In many cases when we hear the other side of the story we are not angry at all. Or perhaps even if the situation is found to be true, steps have been taken to correct the situation.
Too much is made of a thing and not enough time is spent searching the Word of God or in prayer to find the mind of God. We frequently put too many of our human feelings into the situation, perhaps with legalistic ideals, and not enough real concern from the counsel of the Lord.
In Proverbs 16:32 we read, "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he who ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city."
Fourth: Unjustifiable anger comes when children are dealt with unfairly by parents. In Ephesians 6:4, we read, "…Fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." In Colossians 3:21 we read, "Fathers provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." Proper discipline is right, but discipline in anger is wrong.
III. How do we WIN over Anger. In light of what has been said, "How can we win over anger?" In the book of Proverbs, God offers four specific directives for dealing with anger:
First: Learn to ignore petty disagreements. In Proverbs 19:11 we read, "The discretion of a man deferreth his anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression." In God's eyes, you bring glory to yourself if you are big enough to overlook an offense. Don't be defensive or defiant about your rights. Be willing to give.
Proverbs 17:14, "The beginning of strife is like when one letteth out water; therefore, leave off contention, before it be meddled with."
Proverbs 16:32, "He that is SLOW TO ANGER is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."
Proverbs 14:17, "He that is SOON ANGRY dealeth foolishly; and a man of wicked devices is hated."
It takes two to quarrel. If you see an angry disagreement coming, back off. Learn to ignore petty offences and differences. Learn to use these words:
I'm sorry, please forgive me.
I love you, how may I help you?
Second: Refrain from close association with angry people. Again from Proverbs 22:24-25 we read, "Make no friendship with an ANGRY man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go, lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul." We become like those we spend our time with.
If I hang around people who are negative, I become negative.
If I spend time with a rebel, I will become rebellious and angry.
If I spend time around those who gossip, I will become just like them.
Do not hang around an angry person. Rather, keep anger in its place as a tool to help people, and use it only when you have decided that those you love need you to use it.
Third: Keep close check on your tongue. More than any slanderous event, any immoral act, or any unwise financial dealings, THAT WHICH BREAKS UP A CHURCH QUICKEST IS AN UNCHECKED TONGUE. Someone said, "The only tool that gets sharper with use is a tongue."
Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up ANGER."
Proverbs 21:23 "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles."
Fourth: Cultivate honesty in communication. Don't let anger build up.
Again in Proverbs 19: 11 we read, "The discretion of a man deferreth his anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression."
Proverbs 27:4-6, "WRATH is cruel, and ANGER is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
Returning to Ephesians 4:25 we read, "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another." There is no substitute for total honesty, spoken in love. Someone said, "Allowing anger to seethe on the back burner can only lead to a very large lid blowing off a very hot pot."
Here are FOUR things to consider in order to keep anger in control.
First: List what makes you angry.
Second: List those things about which you will allow yourself to be angry.
Third: Try to avoid things and people who make you angry.
Fourth: Use anger to help correct the object of your anger.
After you have taken a swing at what makes you angry, then clean up your act by expressing your love for the individual, and then make suggestions on how the situation can be resolved.
The Bible tells that Jesus was a man of like passions as we. It also tells us that there are no temptations that have taken us that are not common to man. Your temper is no different than that of anyone else who ever lived. The difference between individuals is not in the degree of their tempers, but in the degree of their control and restraint.
I believe that you will agree with me when I say that it is a disgrace the way God's people often treat each other at home as well as at church. I see it as a selfish, wicked sin to be so out of control. God's people would do well to decide to be decent and to get their tempers under control.
In Ephesians 4:31 we have the emotional results of a temper controlled by the devil. They are "bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking."
In Ephesians 4:32 we have the emotional results of a mind and heart controlled by the Holy Spirit. Can you guess what they are?
1. Kindness, the gracious ability to wipe a slate clean
2. Tenderness, the ability to weep with the ones who hurt
3. Forgiveness, being fully able to forgive like Christ did to us.
One day an elderly man stopped to see a pastor, and asked if the pastor could perform a wedding ceremony for him and his former wife. Here is his story:
"Both of us have been married before, TO EACH OTHER! Over 30 years ago, we got into an argument. I got mad, and we separated. Then we did a stupid thing and got a divorce. I guess we were both too proud to apologize. Well, all these years we've lived alone, and now we see how foolish we've been. Our bitterness has robbed us of the joys of life, and now we want to remarry and see if the Lord won't give us a few years of happiness before we die."
BITTERNESS AND ANGER, usually over trivial things, wreck havoc in homes, churches, and friendships. Let's not let the devil use bitterness and anger to wreck ours.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon “Anger, the Burning Fuse of Hostility” then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior let me know? Please send an e-mail to, pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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