Some emotions can quickly turn us mean

Rev. Raymond Maher

I told Ed, my old neighbour in Saskatchewan, that our pastor had a great sermon on anger. Anger and I are too often friends. Ed commented that it would have been better if our pastor had spoken on stupidity, which causes most irritation.“Why should we try to control our anger when there is no limit on the stupid things people do to offend us?” Ed asked me.

I became aware that Ed was bubbling over in frustration about the cost of a provincial election to taxpayers. I did not know the mention of a sermon on anger would get Ed’s blood boiling. It is the seemingly innocent thing that can make myself or others blow up in anger like stepping on a land mine. When our emotions get triggered, it’s hard to keep control. Becoming angry is like drinking poison and thinking it will teach the other person a lesson. Feeling happy or loved is positive, while feeling anger, resentment or hatred towards another is dangerous.

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Anger is one letter short of danger. How difficult it is to be angry and yet not sin. There needs to be a time limit on our fury. Comedian Phyllis Diller twisted, “Never go to bed mad – to - stay up and fight.” Anger does tend to lead to fighting with thoughts and words, which may become physical violence and abuse or murder. Anger, once allowed to rule a person, is difficult to dispose of successfully. It tends to come back and repeat on a person like heartburn.

Anger brings the worst out in us. It is like acid that eats away at the mind and heart of an individual. Anger often becomes resentment, which grows into bitterness, and bitterness is a hidden tumor people carry inside them. Anger can allow the devil to lead us into evil. God’s word warns, “Be angry but do not sin.” (Ephesians 26) Jesus got angry at the temple at people selling oxen, sheep and pigeons. He also got outraged at the moneychangers there. He was upset  they were making the temple a house of trade. He acted in his anger once, but then he let his anger go. He did not return there to keep operating in anger towards those who bought and sold in the temple. Behind Jesus’s outward anger was his inward rejection of what was happening in his Father’s house. He saw not a house of prayer but a place of business or trade.

God calls us to speak the truth with each other. We are to do it in love, which can reflect our honest anger. What we say in anger must be limited to a specific situation and time. Anger expressed in the day should disappear with the daylight, given into the care of God. We belong to each other and God and need to be honest with each other. Angry words are not what we are to be known for as God’s people. Like Jesus, we seek to have something to share with others, like understanding, patience and forgiveness. We should be slow to become angry always guarding our words. Our talk should be good for building others up not tearing them down in anger. (Ephesians 4:25-320)


 

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