I'm So Mad I Could Die!

Bible Book: Proverbs  25
Subject: Anger; Bitterness; Peace; Grudge, Carrying a

Introduction

As Christmas draws ever closer, we get in a rush to accomplish everything. Tempers can flair and troubles can increase. I heard about a man shopping for a present to give to his wife for Christmas. He was in a store area where women do most of the shopping. He was at a sales table trying to find his wife's size while women were there pushing and shoving. A couple of times he gave way to women out of respect. Finally, he realized that if he didn't get in there and fight a bit he was never going to get his wife's gift. He pushed through some ladies to grab what he wanted. A woman looked at him angrily and said, "Why don't you act like a lady?" Grabbing the garment he replied, "That is exactly what I'm doing!" Anger can be a problem at anytime of year, but it seems to be a little worse at Christmas time, especially when shopping is involved.

In Galatians 5:19-21 we are told that anger is among a rather sordid list of sins. Ecclesiastes 7:9 states that anger is in the heart of fools. Of course, we must differentiate between good anger and bad anger. There is a good anger. Jesus Himself was angry and we know He never sinned. He was angry when He took the whip and drove out the money changers from the outer court of the Temple. Some things should make you angry, things like drugs, crime, prejudice and other sins, which harm so many people. The fact is, Jesus never got angry about what someone did to Him; He only got angry about what people were doing to others and especially what sin was doing to them. You and I are never to be angry with people, but only at the sin which causes the problem. That is the way Jesus acted when on the earth. We are to love the sinner and hate the sin. That is possible, you know. For example, you become angry about things you do, but you still love yourself. You become angry at things your children do but you love your children. That is how we are to differentiate between that which is proper and that which is improper when it comes to anger.

I heard about a little girl that was doing her homework and she asked her dad to explain the difference between aggravation and anger. He said, "Oh that's easy, I'll show you." He walked over to the telephone and dialed a number. A man answered the phone and the dad said, "Hello, is George there?" The man said, "There is no one here named George. Sorry, you have the wrong number," and then hung up. The dad dialed the same number again and said, "Hello, is George there?" The man said, "I told you a minute ago there is no one here named George," and again hung up the phone. The dad dialed the number again, "Hello, is George there?" The man said, "Listen buddy, I told you there is no one here named George," and hung up. The dad dialed the same number again. The man answered the phone and said, "H-E-L-L-O!" "Hello, is George there?" This time the man exploded, "There is no George here. I don't know who you are but you better not call here again," and slammed the phone down. The dad said, "Now, honey, that was anger. Now let me show you aggravation." He dialed the same number again and said, "Hello, this is George. Have there been any calls for me?"

You and I need to know how to deal with aggravation and anger, for all of us surely have our share of both. This matter is physically and socially important. It is apparent from what we see happening across America today that anger is dangerous. School shootings, spousal abuse, road rage, and murder at the work place, remind us of how critical it is that we learn how to deal with anger. People who do not know how to cope with anger and aggravation can take desperate steps and ruin many lives.

A doctor at Duke Medical Center in North Carolina has pointed out that people who do not deal with anger well are five times more likely to suffer a heart attack and die early in life. Medical tests have been done that actually reveal that the heart pumping action is terribly restricted when a person becomes angry. Anger can kill you. A golfer was mad on the golf course some time ago that he threw his club. The golf club hit a tree, bounced back, and hit him between the eyes. It killed him graveyard dead right there on the golf course. Anger can kill.

A man jumped out of his car the other day in one our cities and opened the door on the car of a man whom he thought took his parking place. The man in the car shot him through the chest and killed him right there in the parking lot. Anger can kill! You see, none of us know exactly how we will react if we become extremely angry. Knowing how to deal with one’s temper can be a matter of life or death.

Some people try to have an answer for this problem but they don't know God's answer. The late comedian Phyllis Diller once said, "Don't go to bed angry, stay up and fight"! One man I read about said that he and his wife agreed when they got married that they would never go to bed angry. He said, “One time we stayed up three days without sleep, but we didn’t go to bed angry!”

God's Word tells us how we need to deal with anger and I think we had better seek His advice on this subject.

I. We Need a Slow Reaction to Anger - Proverbs 25:8

We must be slow in becoming angry, otherwise we will surely get into trouble. A little girl was sent to a party at a friend's house. Her mother told her she had better not act out at the party. She told her daughter that the mother of the birthday girl had been involved to send her straight home if she caused a problem. Then she warned the girl that if she was sent home early she was going to get a spanking. Well, the little girl was not gone 15fifteen minutes until she came home. Her mother met her at the door, took her in the house and spanked her good. Then her mother asked, "What did you do to get sent home early?" The little girl responded, "I didn't do nothing! The party isn’t till next week!"

When we get mad too quickly, we over-react and make mistakes. We must act calmly and react to situations that present themselves in a Christian manner..

Someone here is going to say that you cannot control your anger. Yes you can! Let us say that you and your wife are having a fuss. You are beginning raise you voices and your faces are getting a bit red, but then the phone rings. How do you answer it? You say very pleasantly, "Hello." You cut that anger off very quickly before you answered the phone, didn't you? How did you do that? You did it because you knew that you needed to control your anger before you answered the phone. You can control it when you want to. That is what we must do on every occasion when it comes to the problem of anger.

Anger rises up within us as a natural thing. If we never got angry, we might be subject to every type of ill treatment, not only of ourselves but also of those we love. God has given us a natural instinct in order to protect us and protect those we love. The problem is simple, we begin to use that God-given anger in the wrong situations. Selfishness, pride and personal desire overcomes us at times and we act in a way that dishonors God and creates danger in our lives. One place this shows up a lot is when we are in an automobile. When someone pulls out in front of you on the highway, your instinct is to drive right up on their back bumper to let them know you are very unhappy. Why does that bother us so much? After all, it usually doesn’t matter at all in regard to the time it is going to take you to get to your destination. I’ve rushed past a car that seemed to be going to slow only to have that same car pass me because of a stop light. That has happened to you hasn’t it? Embarrassing, isn’t it? You see, we are driven by pride and pride wants to be first. When we are denied first place, we become angry. Anger, left controlled, can be much more than embarrassing – it can kill!

We are warned in scripture to be slow to anger. In order to do this, we must start with trusting God in every situation. He knows where you are and what you need. Perhaps you don’t get that parking place that someone took right in front of you because God knows you need to walk. He can see that blockage in your heart that you cannot see!

Being slow to anger is very important in the home. Marriages are ruined when a husband and wife cannot control anger. Children are not to be provoked to wrath. Everyone in the home needs to calm down! When my children did something wrong, I found a way to correct it without yelling. I would calmly sit them down and make them listen to a lecture. I mean a real lecture. I would begin slowly and then slow down some more. After about fifteen to twenty minutes, they would beg me to whip them and let them go. They quit acting out just to avoid my lectures.

Seriously, someone is listening to me right now and you need this message in your life. You are losing control of your temper and it is going to cost you your job, your marriage, your friend, or perhaps your life, unless you gain control. God says, “Be slow to anger!”

II. We Need a Secret Reaction to Anger - Proverbs 25:9-10

Some people just do not realize how damaging angry words can be. We must keep anger in a very small circle. We should not involve others in it. Jesus told us what to do when we have been harmed or when we have harmed another. We are to go directly to that person (Matthew 18:15). Sometimes, when we are angry, we take our anger to others and spread it like a virus. We need to draw a circle around our anger and deal with it in a tight knit way.

In Proverbs 17:9 we are told that love covers a multitude of sins. That is what we should do, cover the problem before it gets worse. When we are angry, we need to ask if there is love present that can overcome the anger. One day I was eating lunch with some friends and the waitperson was extremely slow, got the orders wrong and forgot to bring something to the table when requested. One of the people in our party was ready to call for the manager. I cautioned him not to do that. I said, “Just think of what this person may be going through. Perhaps there is a sick child at home and this person has to work. Maybe her boyfriend or husband just walked out on her. It could be that she is dealing with something that has her mind wrapped up in a swirl of confusion.” Don’t get me wrong, I ‘m not playing hero before you today; I’ve had my occasions to need the same pep talk. The man agreed. Later, we asked her if there was anything we could pray for in her life. When she told us her need, we were all touched. We ended up praying for her with compassion rather than anger.

The secret to dealing in anger the wrong way is to think beyond yourself. That is what Jesus did for us. He hates sin, but He loves you! His love overcame His anger. Without God assuaging His anger against sin through personal sacrifice, all of us would be doomed!

III. We Need A Smart Reaction To Anger - Proverbs 25:11

Verse 18 tells us that words are like an axe. You know, you can say things in more than one way. For example, you might tell a lady that her face looks like a fresh breath of spring. But you could say the same thing by saying that her face looks like the end of a long, hard winter. Same thing, different meaning. You could say that your wife looks so good she makes time stand still. Or, you could say that she has a look that could stop a clock. Same thing, different meaning. It is all in the way you say it.

Choosing our words carefully is important. Words can cut so deeply that a person has a very difficult time recovering from it. Children can be ruined by the words of a parent. A spouse can be heart broken by the words of his or her spouse.

One danger in the use of words today is in the area of social media. A text or an email fails to reveal the body and facial expressions of the sender. You may send the words meaning one thing but the person receiving them may get an entirely different impression from them. I know a pastor who literally lost his church because of a couple of emails. He sent them to a member who was complaining. The member showed them to her friends. All of them agreed that what he wrote was hateful and spiteful. No matter how arduously the pastor tried to show his true intent, they refused to believe him. The issue spread in the church and he eventually resigned.

Listen to me carefully. I am going to be very precise in the words I use. If you don’t know how a person is going to take what you are saying or sending by social media – Don’t say it. Don’t write it. Sometimes we just need to “shut up”. Above all, what you have to say, say in person. Let the person see your heart! We just need to be smart with the issue of anger. Now, don’t you dare go out and tell everybody that I told you to shut up. Now, if I told you to shut up during a conversation, you might walk off in a huff and become an enemy for life. But I would not speak to you like that in a conversation and you know it. You see, we have to be smart in what we say, what we write and how we respond.

We must be careful to say things in the proper manner. We must be careful and smart in the way we react to feelings of anger.

IV. We Need a Spiritual Reaction to Anger - Proverbs 25:21-22

Proverbs 25:21-22 tells us that we must react to hurt the way God reacts to us. He loves us when we are unlovely. He is good to us even when we are not good to Him.

Let’s think about how we can act toward other people. There are three ways we can respond to people and only two of them are good – and only one of them causes us to respond like God responds to us.

A. We may act like sinners and give evil for good.

There are some people who are evil toward people who are trying to help them. Young people often act this way toward adults. A parent or teacher is trying to help a teenager, but the teen sees it as controlling and hateful. As a result, the young person gives evil for good. But, it is not just young people who do this. There are adults who work in evil ways toward an employer or a spouse. It is an awful thing to give evil for good. Sadly, the way this is done most often is in the way we treat our Lord. He is always sharing good with us and too often we respond with evil.

B. We may act like Christians and give good for good.

This is the easiest thing for a person to do. Someone is good to us, so we in turn are good to them. This is the way friends are often chosen in life. When we are good to others and they are good to us, we enjoy being around them. There is little to be praised in this reaction, but it is a joy to be involved in a relationship where each does what each can for the other in a good way.

C. We can act like God and give good for evil.

When we give good for evil, we are acting like God. In the fruit of the Spirit we find the word "temperance." This means to be in control. When we are filled with the Spirit, and let God control us, then we can act under the control of Almighty God. Doing so means that we can give good toward someone who is evil toward us. From the cross Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That is a God reaction to evil. We never rise higher in life than when we can be good to someone who has been evil to us.

Have you acted this way toward anyone lately? I can tell you that this is a very liberating activity. Not only that, but God will bless it richly. Some years ago a person did something that hurt me terribly. I was a very young man and it crushed my spirit for a while. One day in prayer, God spoke to me and said, “One day you will be able to help this person and I want you to promise me that you will.” In tears, I made that promise to God. About three years later I had the chance God had revealed to me in that prayer. I recommended that person for an excellent job and he was hired. He came to see me and asked, “Why did you do that for me?” I told him that God had reminded me that he loved me when I was a sinner against Him, and He wanted to me to act in the same manner toward others. When God first spoke to me about helping this man, I thought it would be hard but I would do it as requested. Actually, it was very easy to do. To be honest, it was refreshing and joyful. I’m not putting myself on a pedestal by telling you this. Honestly, I never would have thought of helping that man had God not made me promise to do so. But, I can tell you that giving good for evil is uplifting and produces joy in your life.

I have a pastor friend who had only one son and that son became a police officer. While still a young man on the police force he was killed by a vicious man. My preacher friend was crushed. In fact, I can’t imagine what he went through during those days and through the years since. Let me tell you what my friend did. He went to the prison where his son’s killer was located and sought to witness to him and share the love of Jesus with him. I asked him how he did that. He shared with me that it was God’s will and it was the only way to move on. Then he said, “Isn’t that what God did for us? Our sins killed His Son but He still loved us!” I can tell you that my friend never held a grudge against his only son’s killer. He was giving good for evil! His action has been a constant reminder to me of how we are to act toward those who seem to harm us or actually try to hurt us.

Conclusion

Everyone here knows that anger is a problem. No doubt it has caused you some heartache in life. Let me remind you that anger is associated with grieving the Holy Spirit. We read in Ephesians 4:30-31, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Did you notice that bitterness, wrath and anger are mentioned it that text, right along with grieving the Holy Spirit? You see, anger is a spiritual problem and needs a divine answer.

Let us yield to the Holy Spirit. We need Him to fill us and take our anger from us. When He is in control, our anger will be under control. We will be angry perhaps, but we will not sin - our only anger will be against those things that make God angry and not against insignificant things and other people.

Our example in the matter of anger is the Lord. He has every right to be angry with us forever, but He is not. He loved us and gave Himself for us at the Cross. He will accept today those who are His enemies. If you are not saved, come to Him now. He loves you! No matter what you have done, He is willing to forgive you when you are willing to repent and accept Him as Lord and Savior.

And, for those of us who belong to Him, let us turn to Him and turn our temperament over to Him. Let us lay down the things that have hurt us – let us lay them at the cross where Jesus laid down His life for us. Today can be life-changing for someone here in this service. You can turn that anger over to God – cast your burden upon the Lord, for He cares for you! You will walk out of here with a great load lifted from your heart. No, I am not making light of your hurt and the harm someone has done to you. I am telling you that Jesus wants you to be free of the burden that anger and bitterness brings to life. Lay it down.

Also, those of us who have a problem with our tempers need to ask God to help us act more like our Savior. Now is the time to come. Let us pray, then we will sing, and as we sing let us respond to the call of God in our hearts.