THE DESTRUCTIVE POWER OF UNBRIDLED ANGER
Love is Not Easily Angered
The Most Excellent Way- Part VIII I Corinthians 13
I remember way back during my college days, one day my mother had asked me to call my sister to do some chores in the house. I went out and said to my sister, “Mum is calling you,” and my sister coolly ignored me in front of her friend. I got so angry at her response, my older brother pride got hurt by the way my sister paid no attention what I had to say. I lost control of my temper and punched right on her nose. Soon after I did that, I felt so ashamed of myself, but I also recognized the destructive power of my anger. I realized then, if I don’t deal with my anger problem right away, I may become an angry person and hurt others, so that day made a decision not to hit another person, especially when I am angry.
That lead me to another problem, instead of expressing my anger appropriately I began to suppress it. Later I found out that too was not good for me, so I began to ask God to deliver me from anger outbursts. I praise God by the help of God I began to control my anger and learning to express it appropriately. It is not to say that I never became angry since then, but one thing is for sure, I have not hit anyone out of anger. I can honestly say that I am in control of my anger.
That is my story of anger. What is your story? I am sure each of us have a story to tell. When it comes to dealing with anger, we are not alone people have been struggling since the beginning. Anger is resident in all of our troubled hearts. It rises to the surface and gets expressed more times than we care to admit. So how are we to deal with this resident evil? How can we deal with the destructive power of unbridled anger? In our series called, “the Most Excellent Way,” we have learned so far that, Love is being patient, Love is kind, Loved does not envy, Love does not boast, Love is not arrogant, Love is not rude and Love is not selfish.
Today we will learn about another aspect of what love is not, i.e, “Love is not easily angered.” When the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth about love is not easily angered he was warning them about, “THE DESTRUCTIVE POWER OF UNBRIDLED ANGER.” Anger in and of itself is not bad, but the unbridled anger is destructive. Let’s see the context in which the Apostle Paul exhorted believers not to become easily angered.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthian believers, to address certain worldly behaviors hurting the church and hindering the cause of Christ in Corinth. He reminded them that before they came to know Christ they were living in a prideful world, but now they were redeemed so they were to live differently. Paul himself stood as an example of someone whose life was radically transformed as he came in contact with the power of the love of God. Therefore speaking from experience, he introduced them to the most excellent way.
The most excellent way is the way of Christ and it is the way of love. Paul showed them what love is, what love is not and then goes on to explain how they can shed some of the negative aspects that seemed to be crippling the Church. He told them if they truly want to live a life of love then they need to control their anger because true love is not easily angered. By saying he was not suggesting that they should never get angry, but not to be easily angered. In other words, “they were to learn to take control of their unbridled anger.
Let’s examine this emotion of anger that can easily get out of control. How can we define anger? Anger is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure or hostility. It is a strong feeling of being upset or annoyed because of something wrong or bad happened: the feeling that makes someone want to hurt other people, or to shout, etc what does the bible say about anger?
I. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ANGER?
Where do we see anger manifest first? Anger was one of the many consequences of man’s rebellion against God. Anger was the root cause of the first murder in the Garden of Eden. It was the time for bringing offerings to God. Two brothers, Cain and Able brought their offerings. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. That made Cain “Very Angry” and his face was down cast.” Then the LORD said to Cain “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you but you “must rule over it.” In NASB it reads, “you must master it.”
The Hebrew word, Mashal used here has several meanings: “to rule, to reign, to govern, to rule over, to have dominion, and to manage.” Instead of taking control over his anger, Cain let anger take control of him, which resulted in killing of his own brother. With that incident Cain lost favor from God for the rest of his life, and remained a wanderer. (Genesis 4: 2-8). Since that time anger has become man’s number one enemy to deal with. Coming back to our text, let’s see how this destructive power of unbridled anger has caused havoc in Corinthian Church. Quotes:
II. THE DESTRUCTIVE POWER OF UNBRIDLED ANGER
Unbridled anger is often the root cause for hatred and violence among people. When anger is left uncontrolled it can ultimately lead to vitriolic hatred. Paul rightfully singles out anger as one of the opposites of love. He strongly recommends that Christians must overcome anger because “Love is not easily angered? Paul knew what he was talking about. He struggled with it. Formerly, he was known as Saul. In his un-regenerated life he was a passionate Jew. He entertained thoughts of inciting violence towards anyone who opposed his view especially the new band of Jesus-followers. He wanted to teach them a lesson by putting them in jail.
In Acts 9:1-2, we read of angry Saul, “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any one who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” But all that was changed, when he had a divine encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. God changed an angry person into a broken and humble person. The persecutor now was willing to be persecuted for Christ. Paul obviously have seen anger manifested in the divisions, quarrels and jealousy and how anger was destroying relationships among the members.
The believers in Corinth were living in a culture that was bent on destroying any sign of godliness among them. Instead of influencing the culture they were letting the culture influence them in the way they related with one another. Therefore he appealed to them to agree with one another. Initially he couldn’t address them as people who live by the Spirit but as people who were still worldly, mere infants in Christ. (I Corinthians 1:10-12; 3:3).
Is our culture today any different than the one the Corinthian believers were called to tackle? No, the culture we are living in is no different than theirs. The present electoral mood in the country is one of anger. It appears to me a majority of people are simply angry at everything and everybody. In a culture that is bent on destroying spiritual morality, civility, and setting up people one against the other, what hope do we have? As Christians, how can we be different and positively influence our culture? What solutions the scriptures and practical wisdom offer when it comes to dealing and possibly controlling this unbridled anger?
III. HOW TO OVERCOME UNBRIDLED ANGER?
When it comes to dealing with our own anger, we always find someone to blame instead of taking responsibility. Or we justify saying this is how I have been raised, I can’t help.
It runs deep in our family or as some Irish would say, I ‘am Irish! When we find ourselves angry, let’s not blame others or our culture for our anger problem, instead let’s pay attention to the power advice of the Apostle Paul on how best to deal with anger. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil…
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 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. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:26-32. This is the best scriptural teaching we can find on dealing with anger. Please read it at home, meditate on it, apply it and repent of your sin of anger and you will see victory over anger.
More on a practical level. If you are given to anger outbursts, acknowledge that it is a serious problem and that it is destructive. Pause and think where is this anger coming from? How did your parents process anger? Intentionally, and momentarily move away from a situation or a person who is making you angry. Give space to yourself. Try to calm down. Find a confidant, a friend, a brother or sister in the Lord, talk with them and ask them to hold you accountable and support you as you work through this unbridled anger.
In closing, we all struggle with anger more than we care to admit. The scriptures encourage us not to manage, but repent and get rid of our anger by all means possible. The only way we can have victory over this poisonous and self-destructive emotion, is by crying out to God for his mercy and forgiveness. Then asking the Holy Spirit to develop in us the fruit of the Spirit called “gentleness” the opposite of anger. Then only we will be free from this destructive power of unbridled anger, and continue to walk and live on the most excellent way. Amen