Everyone deals with anger – we all deal with it differently, but everyone deals with anger.  I remember reading a story about professional baseball players Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin.  They were going hunting on a friend of Mantle’s land and when they got there Mantle went in to tell his friend they were there.  The friend asked Mantle to do a favor for him.  He had an old mule that needed to be put down, but he was too emotionally attached to do it and asked Mantle if he would do it before hunting.  Mickey Mantle decided to play a trick on Billy Martin and so he came out of the house acting very angry.  He told Martin that his friend had refused to let them hunt and that he was so mad he was going to go shoot one of his mules.  Martin begged him not to do it but Mantle, playing it to the hilt, just kept moving, walked into the barn and shot the mule.  Laughing to himself, suddenly he heard two other shots! He walked out and Martin came running around the barn yelling, “We’ll show that son of a gun!  I just killed two of his cows!”In Ephesians 4:26-27 Paul writes, “Be angry and do not sin.  Don’t let the sun go down on your anger; and don’t give the devil an opportunity.”  Those two verses tell me at least two things:  1) Anger is not necessarily sin, and 2) the devil can get involved in our anger if we aren’t careful.
Anger is an emotion and our emotions were given to us by God.  However, that doesn’t give us an excuse to express our anger any way that we want to express it.  We have to learn not simply to “control” our anger, but we need to learn to let God have control of our anger.  In Galatians 5 Paul tells us that the works of the flesh are obvious” and then one of those that he enumerates is “outbursts of anger.”  Of course Paul tells us that we aren’t expected to simply “control” the works of the flesh, in this case outbursts of anger, but we are to allow the “Spirit” to have control of our lives so that we do not “carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit . . .”  So then we want the Spirit of God to control our lives and in the process, control our anger with “the fruit of the Spirit . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:16-23).  
The key to controlling our anger then becomes the task of the Spirit of God in our lives and not our strength or our ability to “deal with” our anger.  And so we go back to the verses in Ephesians 4 and we can see that God can use our anger to deal with situations or circumstances that are wrong, that are against what God would desire in our lives.  So instead of letting anger control us, even in situations where it is right to be angry, we let God’s Spirit control that anger.
I read a story today about a man whose 16-year-old daughter was in a convenience store while he waited for her in the car.  While sitting there a man came up to him asking for money; he gave him some change and didn’t think anything of it.  A few moments later his daughter came out of the store and told him that while she was in a stall in the restroom that a man came into the women’s restroom and violently began to shake the door to the stall trying to get in.  A few moments later the same man who had asked the father for some money came out of the store and the daughter told her dad that was the man who tried to get into the restroom stall she was in.  The father jumped out of the car, confronted the man and began to beat the man with his fists and ultimately beat him so badly that he died of his wounds.  That dad’s anger was justified, but he allowed that anger to take him where he never should have gone.  
Paul tells us that we are not to “give the devil an opportunity” in our anger.  In other words, the devil will attempt to take our God-given emotion of anger, even justifiable anger, and use it as an opportunity in our lives to do what is wrong.  That father, whose anger was justified, gave the devil an opportunity in his life and he is now in jail for murder.  
We also know that anger can change people.  I have seen people get angry and it literally changes everything about them.  I remember as a boy that our neighbor across the street was watching a football game one night and got so angry with the game that he had a heart attack.  I have also known people who have lived with unresolved anger for so long that it changes their attitudes, the way that they get along with people and it can even change their appearance.
The story has been told that when Leonardo Da Vinci was working on his painting The Last Supper that he became angry with a certain man.  Losing his temper he lashed out at the man with bitter words and threats.  Returning to his canvas he attempted to work on the face of Jesus but his shame and guilt hindered his efforts.  Finally, he put down his tools and sought out the man and asked his forgiveness.  The man accepted his apology and Da Vinci was able to return to his workshop and finish painting the face of Jesus.  Unresolved and unconfessed anger will always hinder our efforts to portray the personality of Jesus in our lives.
Learn to walk in the Spirit of God and not your own power.  Learn that the devil is looking for opportunities to trip you up, to cause you to lose control in your life, but that the Spirit of God can be greater in you than what the devil can do to you.  In this case, let God have your anger, knowing that there is a right way to respond to anger and definitely a wrong way to respond to anger.

One Response to “Anger”

  1. Bob Appleby says:

    Good to have your words of wisdom back. God bless you Pastor

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