Calm Down!

Pastor Jerry Gillis - September 9, 2018

Community Group Study Notes

  • Based on what we heard in Sunday’s message, what is the only true remedy for human anger? Why is this the case?
  • What is the source of your anger (past or present)? If left unaddressed, why is this anger destructive to you and to those around you? What should you do about it?
  • What is one action step you can take in response to Sunday’s message? Specifically, where do you need to extend forgiveness, and when will you act on this?


Memory Verse

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. -Ephesians 4:31

Sermon Transcript

I'm pretty sure that nobody's really going to argue much with what I'm about to say. I think I can safely say that people in the United States have a problem with anger. I didn't even need any like Smarties candies to figure that out. For instance, some people are really angry at the Supreme Court nominee and so they're protesting really loudly inside and outside the of the Senate about that. Then, some people are really mad that there are people protesting inside and outside of the Senate. There's some people who are super angry at the president for not issuing a White House statement right away when Senator John McCain died, but he kind of had to do so grudgingly. There are others who are mad at the McCain family for not inviting the president to the funeral of John McCain. There's some people who are angry that Colin Kaepernick is the face of the new Nike ad campaign. Then, there are people who are mad at the people who are mad about Colin Kaepernick being the face of the new Nike campaign. There's people who are mad about Ariana Grande's dress length at Aretha Franklin's funeral, and there's people that are mad at the host pastor and his comments about Ariana Grande and how he ended up handling her.

All of that is just in like the last week. I think it's fair to say that, generally speaking, in our population, we have a bit of an anger problem. The magazine Esquire teamed up a couple of years ago with NBC news organization and they did kind of a survey in the United States about American anger. The title of the survey was called American Rage. I won't tell you everything relative to that particular research that they did, but I'll summarize a few things. The first thing that I would summarize is that they found that more than half of the people surveyed are angrier now than they were just a few years ago, more than half. Also, 68% of people in America get angry every day at something in the news. Something gets them mad, something gets them angry, 68%. That is a large majority of the population that's angry every day about something in the news. You could solve that by turning it off.

They also found in their study that women are angrier than men. I'm actually not even offering any commentary relative to that. That's just what they found. They found that white people are angrier than people of color. They also found that people in a median income range are angrier than people who are either very wealthy or very poor. I found it interesting. Whatever else you do with it, it reminds us that American rage or American anger is a real thing and that many in our population experience it. The funny thing is that in our culture, anger actually begins to feel commonplace. It feels like it's something that's just like an everyday thing. It's what we experience. It's what we do. Anger's just seemingly normal in our outrage culture. In our outrage culture, everybody's angry about everything all the time. If they're not, they feel like they're doing something wrong so they need to find something to get angry about so they go looking for things to be angry about or offended about.

That's what you have when you have an outrage culture, but even though it's really commonplace in our culture, you do realize that anger, generally speaking, through the ages, has not been viewed as a virtue particularly. It's not been something that's been looked at like, "Hey, man. Anger is awesome. This is what we should be doing." In fact, if you rolled yourself back into the 14th century, which you're not going to do, but let's pretend that we did. We go back into the 14th century, you may have read some things by a guy named Dante. He wrote The Divine Comedy in three installments. One of those installments was called Inferno, Dante's Inferno. Maybe you remember that from literature class or history class. What he did is he basically talked about kind of more or less the nine levels of hell in his imagination. The fifth circle of hell he called anger because this wasn't regarded as a virtue. It was regarded as a vice. Dante talked about this fifth circle of hell being anger.

What was interesting about how he defined it is there were two different types of people, both of which who were angry, that were in this fifth circle of hell. One of those groups of people were called the wrathful. They were the people who were constantly having outbursts of anger. What he pictured them doing was he pictured them fighting one another alongside the River Styx, this mythical river that ran through hell in Dante's imagination, but there was another group of people that he called the sullen. Those were the people who kind of had kind of their anger and their rage was tucked away. They never gave it to full outburst, but it was just seething inside of them. He pictured them as actually just in a constant state of drowning underneath the waters of the River Styx. In Dante's fifth circle of hell that he called anger, there were the wrathful and there were the sullen, and neither of them were categorized as being in a good spot, in a good place, and this was not looked at as a virtue. This was looked at as a vice.

Now, even if you went all the way back into the time of the writing of the Bible, so instead of just going back to the 14th century, you went back to the first century AD, in the time of the apostle Paul, Paul took very seriously this idea of anger. I can tell you this. They weren't viewing it and he wasn't viewing it as a virtue. He was viewing it as a vice when he was talking to the church at Ephesus, generally speaking. Now, I'm going to qualify that in just a second. You need to stay with me. Generally speaking, he was talking about that as a vice. When we started last week in this series on kind of we called Calm Down, we started in Ephesians chapter four and we started talking about bitterness. Now, if you weren't here, and you very well might not have been because this is the Sunday everybody decided to come back to church, but if you weren't here for some reason, then you can always check that out on I encourage you to listen to that message about bitterness.

God did a lot of work in a lot of people's hearts last week. Some of you are sitting in here, some of you are watching at another campus, some of you are watching online, some of you may be watching us on television, but God has done a work maybe through his word in regard to bitterness, but he didn't just stop talking about getting rid of just bitterness. He actually connected the dots to some other things. Notice again what it says in Ephesians four verse 31, which is what we're studying through this series. Paul says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." Now, when Paul talks about this, you can start to see the connection between bitterness and anger, right? Bitterness is kind of anger that's held on for too long and becomes poisonous. These two things are kind of joined at the hip. It's part of the reason why Paul said to get rid of all bitterness and then he includes in that rage and anger. These things are actually connected.

When we look at this idea of what we are supposed to get rid of, our problem is that we don't often think that we have an anger problem. That's our problem. We don't often think we have an anger problem. You see, we think that anger is just for those people who kind of detonate and blow up and who get really mad and they scream and they yell and all those kinds of things, but really we've learned in the day and age that we live in to tuck away all kinds of anger and to tuck away all kinds of kind of suppressed rage. We just kind of put it down here and kind of leave it there and let it just seep out. Maybe somebody's done something to you. They've offended you in some way or whatever, and we've just learned how to kind of keep our anger. Maybe we've had anger management classes or we've heard that phrase so many times. That's because we only know one of two ways to deal with anger. We either detonate and ventilate or we just suppress this rage and kind of keep it down there, neither of which is what the Bible prescribes, but those are the two things that we do when we're dealing kind of with this idea of anger, but here's the thing. Paul doesn't actually let us get away with either one of those branches of anger.

Now, I don't know if Dante was inspired by his reading of Paul in this sense. He may have been. Dante was a really smart guy, but I'm telling you that the reason that I'm leaving this up here for a second is that Paul doesn't let us go on either count because when he says get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, there are two distinct words here in the Greek language. The first one that he uses here that we have translated rage is a Greek word that can mean this. It can mean a passionate outburst or a boiling over. There's your detonation. There's your blow up person, but then there's a second word here that we've just translated real simply anger in English. He talks about rage, this boiling over or blowing up, and then anger, which means a seething anger or a disposition of an angry soul. In other words, it's stuff that we kind of keep down and keep in, but we're still just as angry. For Paul, he says you can't really get away with either one of these things. You actually need to get rid of all of this.

Now, here's what Paul is talking about. Paul is talking about a very specific kind of anger. It's a relational type of anger and it's very specific. In fact, it's so specific that James actually calls it something. He calls it human anger because there is a difference. I need you to understand what I'm going to be telling you here. Notice what James says in James chapter one, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because," here it is, "human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." You see, this is actually the kind of anger that Paul is telling us we need to get rid of. It's human anger that we need to get rid of. Why am I making such a big deal about this? Because, listen carefully, because I don't want you to think that all anger is sinful because, in fact, it's not.

You see, Paul, when he says get rid of rage and anger, he's talking about this idea that James calls human anger, this relational anger, because nothing good really comes from it because ultimately, here's what happens. It does a ton of damage to people and to relationships and it's hard to develop anything that's going to cover over that damage. He says this is not proper for the people of God. It needs to be put aside. You need to get rid of this because, listen to this, all anger is not sinful. You see, we know that from Paul because when Paul says in verse 31 of Ephesians chapter four, what we just read a moment ago, to get rid of rage and anger, just a few verses earlier, listen to what he says. Verse 25 through 27, "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 'In your anger,'" or some of your translations say be angry and do not sin. "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."

See, Paul is taking this really seriously. In it, he's saying don't let he sun go down on your anger. Now, Edie and I have promised that we're just never going to do that. I've not slept for two weeks at times, but we're not going to let the sun go down on our anger. I'm kidding. Right? You don't want that to be the case. Why? Here's why. Because there is a way that in our anger we do not sin. In other words, when Paul's saying be angry but sin not, be angry and don't sin, that means that there can be an anger that is not sinful. Why is that the case? Well, I'll tell you why that's the case. Because God can be angry. That's why. Often times, it's said God's not angry, God's never angry, and all those kinds of things. It's just not true. That's just for a soft culture that doesn't understand God. It's not true. God's angry at sin. You know why he's angry at sin? Because it does damage to people he loves. If he wasn't angry at those things which were doing damage to the people he loves, he would be less than loving.

You see, anger is an outgrowth of love, ladies and gentlemen. That's why anger as an emotion is not inherently sinful. It's become corrupted by our sinful nature. Most of the time it turns into human anger that does a lot of damage even though what we've done is we've corrupted a really good thing and we've made it a bad thing through our sinful corruption. Are you following what I'm telling you here? You see, God himself, listen to what the scripture says about God in his nature in Exodus 34. It says that the Lord passed in front of Moses proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Now, it doesn't say never angry. It says slow to anger but abounding in love. In fact, his anger is a part of the outgrowth of his love. The Psalmist says it the exact same way, almost as in a quote. "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever." You see, this is the nature of God.

Listen to this. God is angry with those things that rage against this love, this truth, and the people that he loves. He's angry at sin and the devastation that it brings in the lives of people because he loves you. He's mad because he loves. It's true of us, isn't it? It's true of us. We know that response in the lives of our kids. If someone was trying to do some serious harm to our kids, there's something that comes up inside of us as a dad or as a mom that wants to defend that which is coming to do damage to those that we love. It makes perfect sense, but for us, it becomes increasingly difficult to figure out how we can be angry and not sin. I don't know how to fully answer that question, but the way. How do you do that? I don't know how to fully tell you what that looks like, but I can give you just a couple of quick things as to what it would look like if we had righteous anger as opposed to just calling righteous anger something that's just us detonating, which is what we do sometimes. I'm just righteously angry. No, you're not. You're just really mad, and you're taking it out on people, and it's not righteous in any way.

Let me tell you at least what it would start to look like, a couple of things. First, we would look at our sin first. If it was truly a righteous anger, we wouldn't just be venting our anger in directions. We would actually look at our own lives first before we started kind of spewing our wrath on everybody. That's what we have to do. In fact, do you remember the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter seven? Jesus said, "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Now, listen. Jesus never said that we don't have the opportunity to be able to look at our brothers or sisters and maybe be able to point some things out that are not good for them. We're allowed to do that, but we can't do that if we've got a tree growing out of our face.

We're not going to be able to see the speck of dust that's in our brother or our sister's eye. We can't help get that out because we've got an oak growing out of our schnoz. Right? This is not going to be helpful, but if that can be gone, we can be helpful in that regard. You see, before we start getting really angry with everybody everywhere else, I think righteous anger would be willing to look at our own lives and ask questions about our own sin and ask questions about our own failures and our own shortcomings and our own need of grace because once we get into that posture, we seem to be a little less angry at everybody else in the world because we know we act like everybody else in the world.

There's a second thing that I would tell you that righteous anger would look like. We would be grieved, not just infuriated. In other words, righteous anger doesn't always mean that we're just stomping around with a righteous cause. We would actually be grieved and brokenhearted before being infuriated. I'll give you an example of the perfect human being, Jesus. You guys remember that Jesus has shown anger, right? You do know that. You remember that time that he went into the temple and started flipping tables? Anybody remember that? Some of you, it's like your favorite verse. Like, "Yes, that's what I'm saying." When you go off in your house or whatever, "That doesn't really look like Jesus." "Oh, yes, it does." Flipping tables.

Except for the fact that what we forget when Luke is recording that Jesus went into the temple and started turning over tables and shipping out these moneychangers who were defiling the temple of the Father's house, as Jesus was saying, instead of making it a house of prayer, a house of thieves. They were charging exorbitant interest to people for sacrificial items, which was just awful. Jesus is tossing them out. He's turning over tables of the moneychangers because he wanted the money to spill all over the place. You see that and you're kind of like, "Man, he's red-faced and serious. He's going angry man." Yes, but what if you read the verses just prior to that when he was coming to the city? Literally, this is where you're reading that passage in Luke. Just read the passages that come right before it. Here's what it looks like, Luke 19, "As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and he said, 'If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes." Hey, you might be in a place where righteous anger is a real thing, but you kind of know that if you've been grieved before you got infuriated when your heart has broken over things that are bad for people before you got angry at all the people.

There's a third thing that I would tell you that righteous anger looks like. It would be this. We would show ourselves to be slow to anger and seeking redemption and mercy. Why? Because that's the character and the nature of God because what we would be doing is reflecting the nature of who God is. The Bible tells us over and over God is slow to anger. He's abounding in love. We would seek redemption and seek mercy. That's not always an easy thing to do. We always want to get people when we're angry. We want to get back at people when we're angry, but that's what we should do. Listen to what James says in James chapter two. He says, "Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." This is the heart of God, that mercy actually triumphs over judgment. Typically, when we are finding ourselves knee-deep in judgment, it comes from our anger.

It's possible, ladies and gentlemen, it's possible to be angry and not sin, but it's so difficult that Paul, after saying that, just a few verses later says get rid of all rage and anger. Why? Because he knows that, generally speaking, that anger gets tainted by our sinfulness and it turns into human anger that does destruction and is bad for everybody everywhere because that's where anger comes from. Anger's a good thing turned bad because it's been corrupted by sin. It's a response that should be responding to things that rage against the love of God, that rage against the truth of God, that rage against the righteousness of God. It's a proper response just like God has, but it's been tainted by sin. As a result, it gets corrupted and it gets selfish and it gets mean and it gets awful. Paul says that part is what we've got to do away with. It's not about doing away completely with the idea of anger because anger is needed when we talk about a God who is just, who rages against sin. We all need that, but we need the sanctified version of it, not the sinfully kind of deformed version of it that we find in our lives.

See, I don't know where your anger might have come from. It could have come from a whole bunch of different places. It could have come from how you've been treated because of what you look like or because of what ethnicity you are, what race you are. It could have come from potentially an anger because of being looked over at a job or because you were mocked as a kid because of some physical features that you had or because of some challenges that you had. It could come from hurt words that have been said by husbands or wives or friends or family members or brothers or sisters or classmates or work associates or people that you sit near in church. It could come from a whole lot of different places. The thing is when we start to think about it, what we've got to think about is how serious anger is and how seriously God takes human anger because Paul is telling us by inspiration of the Spirit you need to get rid of human anger and I'm telling you why. Because it's destructive. It does not bring about the righteousness that God desires.

In fact, Jesus was really serious when he talked about anger because Jesus went really beyond kind of the surface level and he went really deep when he talked about this idea. You remember it? It was in the Sermon on the Mount, you know, the discourse on the hill. This is when Jesus was talking about what it looks like to be a kingdom citizen. He talked about this idea of anger. Listen to his words, Matthew five. Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Raca.'" That was a Hebrew word that meant good for nothing. It was a derogatory term. "... is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." You see, Jesus is talking to them, people who want to generally keep the law, people who want to generally be moral, and he's basically saying, "Hey, you've heard that it was said don't murder."

By the way, that's a really good idea. In the 10 commandments, you shall not kill. It's not something that we should do. It is not part of God's design for the world. Of course, that's the famous line that everybody gives you when you talk to them about the gospel and you talk to them about Christ and you talk to them about their sinfulness and their need for a savior in their life. "Hey, hey, hey. I've never killed anybody." You just want to go, "Congratulations, you, for never having murdered anybody. Fantastic. That is your line of argument. I've never murdered anybody, therefore I deserve to go to heaven." That's kind of the idea, right? Jesus says, "Let me stop you right there. While that is true, I want to talk to you about whether or not you're guilty of the seedbed for what causes murder."

By the way, murder just doesn't happen. It just doesn't come out of nowhere, right? "Yeah, I was just driving. I went to work. Everything was cool, did a couple things, answered a couple emails, murdered a guy. Then I was just hanging out. You know, I had a coffee break, you know, murdered somebody else." You just don't do that. That comes from somewhere. Where does it come from? Anger. That's what Jesus said. The murder that is potential comes from anger that is actual. Jesus says, "Let me ask you this. Maybe you haven't been guilty of physically murdering somebody, but are you guilty of the seedbed of what causes murder?" That is anger and derision toward people in your hearts because that seed, when it grows, that's what gives the potential to those things. You're kind of murdering them in your soul. You just haven't done it yet. See, Jesus goes way, way deeper and takes this very, very seriously.

You see, some of us, our anger, maybe from other people who have offended us, but maybe it's God, we're just angry at God. We've decided that everything we want to be angry about, we've put upon him. I've talked to people over and over and over again through the course of decades of ministry where that's been the case. "I'm not coming to church. You know, at one time in my life, I don't ever talk to him, but I did finally talk to him one time. I told him, 'I need you to do this,' and he didn't do it so I'm done with him." Because God didn't act like you determined he's supposed to act, you're done with him. That's a really bad line of thinking. For one, you're a terrible God, horrible. No one should make you God. No one should make me God. We are awful at being God. As a result, when we judge God ... Can you imagine that thought?

When we judge God, God didn't act like I wanted him to act, listen, ladies and gentlemen, listen very carefully. God's nature is he's holy, he's perfect, he's just, he's good, he's righteous. Every time God acts, he is acting that way, every time. Whether you understand it or not and whether I understand it or not, it's who he is. We, in our sinful brokenness who are casting judgment on the sovereign, perfect, holy, righteous, good God is a real mess, but sometimes, because God didn't act like we wanted him to act, we got mad at God. Maybe you're here today on one of our campuses, maybe you're watching online and you're like, "I'm pretty much done with God. You know, I've been hurt by God. He hasn't acted like I wanted him to act." What happens is we build up this anger in our hearts because God didn't do what we wanted him to do. We basically become Jonah. Do you remember that story? It's kind of tucked away there.

You remember Jonah, big fish, swallow, throw up. You remember that whole deal, right? It's a short story in the Bible. Jonah basically, God says, "I'm going to send you to the Ninevites and I want you to preach to the Ninevites because I want them to know me. I want them to know who I am." He's like, "I want the Ninevites dead. I'm not going to those skunks." That's the literal Hebrew translation. "I'm not going to those skunks." It's actually not the literal Hebrew translation. It's the Jerry Gillis International Version. "I'm not going to those skunks. I am not touching those people. This is ridiculous." God works it out. He goes. Begrudgingly, Jonah preaches to the Ninevites. You know what the Ninevites do? They repent. They repent of their sin and they turn to God. Do you know what Jonah's response is? He's angry about that because he doesn't like them.

The only thing that makes Jonah happy in the story is when finally he's kind of watching to see now, he's kind of sitting in a place looking over the city. It's a super hot day and he's wondering what's going to happen to all of these Ninevites. God allows a bush, a tree, a shrub to grow up over him and give him shade. Now Jonah's like, "Now we are talking. I got some shade." God's like ... God says, "Hey, little worm," not to Jonah, but to an actual worm. "Hey, worm. Just go ahead and eat that. Just eat that tree." Worm eats the tree. Jonah has no shade. He is livid. Basically, God says, "Let me just make sure we're clear here, Jonah. You are angrier at the fact that your tree's gone and you don't have shade than you are that 120,000 Ninevites might have died in their sin." You know what Augustine would call that? Jonah had disordered loves. His loves were all out of order.

You see, that's a part of our problem, by the way, in anger, is that our loves are all out of order. What happens when we're angry is that often times we are loving someone or something far more than we're loving God. By the way, that might just be us. We're much angrier about our comfort being messed with, we're much angrier about our name being offended than we are about the glory of God being threatened. Disordered loves. That's a part of where anger ultimately comes from. That's why Paul says get rid of it. You know why we should get rid of it? The Proverbs actually give us warnings as to why we should get rid of it. There's good reasons to get rid of this human anger. Let me give you just a couple from Proverbs. Here's some warnings.

Anger damages decision making. Did you know that? Anger damages decision making. Listen to what the writer of Proverbs says, chapter 14 verse 29, "Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly." Have you ever been so angry that you were just seeing red and you weren't thinking straight and you weren't thinking clearly and you made really bad decisions and you acted like a fool? Do you know why you did that? Because you were a fool. That's why I did it, because I was a fool, because we let human anger dominate us to the point where we can't even think clearly, we can't have the wisdom of God, we're not turning our attention and our affection toward Jesus. Here's why. Because we are so much more in love with us at that moment than we are with God. Disordered loves. You know what we become? Stupid and foolish. That's what hot tempered anger does. We make really bad decisions.

Here's another warning from Proverbs, though. Anger rots our health. I'm here for you all day. Anger rots our health. I'm your fitness instructor here. You want to have really bad health? Be really angry. That's how you can do that. If you want to accomplish your lack of health goals, just be really angry. Listen, in fact, to what the writer says in Proverbs 14:30, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy ..." Do you know this word in the Hebrew language means passionate anger? But passionate anger rots the bones. Anger not only makes you really bad at making decisions, it also puts you in really bad health. There was a 2015 study from the University of Sydney and they were looking at the effect of anger on health. Do you know what they concluded in their research? It was done over I think months and years. They finally concluded, listen to this, that you are eight and a half times more likely to have a heart attack within two hours of an angry outburst, eight and half more times likely. Did you know they also, even though the study was primarily about how it affects your heart, that they were also connecting the dots with stroke and depression and a whole bunch of other things related to anger?

It's no wonder that we have the wisdom of the Proverb writer saying, "You know what this will do? It will rot your bones. It will make you unhealthy," but there's a third warning, though, there in the Proverbs. Anger creates an addiction. Do you know what that addiction is to? Anger. Anger actually creates an anger addiction. Listen to what the writer says of Proverbs 19, "A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again." A hot-tempered person has to pay the penalty; you rescue them, and you're going to have to do it again. Why? Because anger creates an addiction. In other words, they're going to keep coming back to it and keep coming back to it. Unless we let them feel the full weight of the damage that they have done, you're just going to have to keep coming back and coming back and coming back. Why? Because anger is an addiction. It's what they think that they have to do to be able to solve their problem because that's all we know to do with anger. We only know one of two ways in the world outside of Jesus, we only know two ways. It's ventilate and explode or it's suppress and seethe. That's kind of what we do.

The truth is the Bible doesn't really tell us that those are the options. The Bible gives us a different expectation. How do we deal with anger? How do we do it? Well, right there in our text in Ephesians four, it tells us. Notice what verse 32 says after verse 31, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." See, jot this down if you would. Forgiveness is the only true remedy for human anger. You say, "Okay. That sounds easy," but you know it's not. Right? It sounds easy, but it's not as easy as you think it is because we want to stay in our anger. When we're angry, we want to stay in our anger because for whatever reason, it feels comfortable to us. We just want to keep it.

By the way, we think we're doing damage to the people we're angry at and they're eating Cheetos and watching Netflix. They're not even thinking about you. You're all mad and you feel like you're doing something by doing that, except for you're just basically locking yourself in your own prison and throwing away the key. That's what you're doing. You're not doing anything that's helpful. We want to stay in our anger. We want justice. We want somebody to pay because we're mad and we want somebody to pay, but you got to realize anger does a lot of damage. It does a lot of damage. In fact, think of it this way. Think of it like a hammer and nails and a door. You can see it. Think about what it would look like if every time you were angry, it was the equivalent of taking a nail and hammering it into a door.

Every time you get upset, you just pick up a nail and you hammer it into the door. Over and over, you hammer and hammer and you got a bunch of nails in the door. Then you're like, "You know what? I got to do something about this," so you turn the hammer around and you actually start pulling the nails out because you're like, "You know what? I've been angry with this person and I got to pull that out. I've been angry with this person and I got to pull that out. I've been angry with this person and I've got to pull that out," but you and I both know that when you look at the door, even though there may not be any nails left in it, you see a whole lot of damage, don't you, damage that you weren't really able to undo because this is what anger does. It leaves a mark. It does damage, but the only way that we can even begin to deal with this kind of damage is to understand what Jesus has done for us and what he can empower us to do in the same way.

You see, listen carefully. The gospel teaches us that forgiveness means someone still has to pay. Forgiveness doesn't mean anyone gets away. It means someone still has to pay. It just means that the offender is not the one who is paying. The offended is who is. You see, that's what the gospel teaches us. When Jesus went to a cross and died, do you know what we figured out pretty quickly? That he was, listen to this, he was having to absorb the anger of humanity. We know that human beings were angry with Jesus. Whether they were people who just wanted to see kind of a bloodletting, whether they were people who were part of the religious establishment that felt threatened, whatever it might have looked like, sinful people wanted to see Jesus on a cross and he had to absorb human anger.

We know that, it's proven because they killed him. They didn't kill him for no reason. They killed him because they were angry and they were threatened. Jesus had to absorb all of this human anger on the cross, but bigger than that even, Jesus also absorbed the righteous anger of the Father whose anger was directed at the sinfulness of humanity that would even kill the Son of God. That anger that should have been directed at the sinful human beings, all of us who would be guilty even if we were living in that day and age of our anger, Jesus absorbed that. Do you get that? Jesus absorbed anger from us and Jesus absorbed anger from the Father intended for us. He did both and still said, "Father, forgive them."

See, forgiveness, ladies and gentlemen, still means somebody has to pay. If you were to come over to my house and we were just hanging out at the house and you accidentally pick something up and threw it and it busted my window to pieces, I could say, "Hey, it's okay. Man, I forgive you. It's all good." "No, I'm sorry. I'm sorry." "It's okay. It's okay." Then I let you go home and do your thing. Guess what. I still got a window that I got to replace and I got to pay for it. I've forgiven, and I've let you off. You're the offending party and I've let you off, but I paid for it. That's what forgiveness does. Do you know the only true remedy for human anger is going to be when we learn how to forgive? We learn how to let those people go, and let God deal with them how he wants to deal with them, and we absorb the emotional cost that it requires to be able to let them go instead of housing that anger that we know will not bring about the righteousness God desires. Those are really our choices, but we can do it because Jesus, who died and did it and rose from the dead, now lives in us. When we allow his life to operate through us, we're not trying to do this on our own. We do it by the power of Jesus.

That said, I want to give you four things that I want you to jot down as kind of questions for application before I cut you loose. Here's the first thing I want you to do. I want you to ask the Holy Spirit to identify the source of your anger. Whether that's in the past or whether that's in the present, it doesn't matter. I want you to ask the Holy Spirit to identify the source of your anger. In other words, your job, what I'm giving you, commissioning you to do that I have had to do in grappling through this message as well, what I'm commissioning you to do is when you leave or if you just stay seated in your seat, whatever you're doing or if you're in your car or if you're at home later today, whatever, get alone, ask the Holy Spirit to identify. I don't have to convince you. If you've got anger, you know it. You know it's down there.

Sometimes it blows up, but you know if it's seething down there somewhere, but you ask the Holy Spirit to shine a light and show you the source of that anger, past or present. Some of you are angry at people who are no longer living. Some of you are angry at yourself. Some of you are angry at other people that are in your immediate sphere and you've not been able to articulate that. Allow the Holy Spirit to do that. By the way, if that becomes a struggle for you, you know there's something but you're not able to pinpoint it, maybe you need to get somebody who's going to help you, somebody mature in the faith, maybe somebody who can help you in a counseling scenario to be able to work through and find what the source of that anger is, that human anger that's doing so much damage. That's the first thing.

Here's the second thing. Ask if your anger is coming from loving something or someone more than God. A lot of times, that's the case. We have disordered loves. As a result, our anger is coming because we love someone, maybe ourselves, maybe other people, or something more than God. When it gets in the way of our happiness, of our comfort, of our own selfish desires, then we're really angry about everything, but maybe it's because we got disordered loves. Thirdly, ask this question, "Where do I need to extend forgiveness?" By the way, I need you to understand something. Forgiveness won't be a one time act. I've had people say that to me before. "Yeah, I've already forgiven them. I'm just still mad at them." Okay, how's that working out? Forgiveness is an ongoing thing.

You're angry at them today so you forgive them today. You wake up tomorrow, and you're still angry, and you forgive them tomorrow. You wake up on Tuesday, and you're still angry, and you forgive them then. As you continue to do that and you start living in a posture of forgiveness, here's what happens. Maybe now you're only angry one time a week that you think about it. Maybe now it's only one time a month that you think about it. Eventually, you're not thinking about it anymore. That's a reminder that you're not angry. You're not thinking about it anymore. Even when you hear their name, even when you walk by them or you see them at the supermarket or you see them somewhere, even at church, you're still able to process that and pray for them and love them because that's gone now because Jesus has done a work in your life because you've given yourself to the process of forgiveness.

Then, let me give you the last question. When are you going to act on it? In other words, one of the great hamstringing things in our Christian life is hearing the word and not doing what it says. It's one of the great, I think, one of the great cancers on what we do in this nation on a Sunday morning. We hear the word. We don't do what it says. We hear the word. We don't act on what it's been calling us to. I've got that responsibility because I have to live under the word, not over it. It doesn't matter that I get up here and talk. It means nothing. What I've got to do is I've got to live under the word, not over it. I'm submissive to what God asks. I'm not in charge of it. I've got to live this out just like you do. That's our job. We all live this out. When are you going to act on this?

If you know that the Spirit of God is doing something there, when are you going to act on extending forgiveness, when are you going to act on seeking forgiveness, when are you going to act on repenting for what's been going on in your heart, when are you going to act on that? Paul would suggest it needs to be now, not later, because when he says get rid of this, he's not saying think about it for a couple of months. He's saying get rid of it now because it's doing destruction. It's going to be bad. It's not good for you and it's not good for anyone else because it's not about the glory of God. It's about the glory of you. Get rid of it. That's my challenge to you. That's my challenge to us, that we might be a people who lives out the reality of Jesus's life in us and demonstrates to the world what it looks like to be a people filled with the fruit of the Spirit instead of filled with rage and anger. Let's bow our heads together.

Before we're dismissed, which will be in just a moment, if you're here and you've not yet come to a place where you have responded in faith to what Jesus has done on your behalf, man, God loves you. That's why Jesus came. He came to die for our sins so that we might be reconciled to God. If you want to know what it's like to have your sins forgiven, to have your life transformed, just like the people you saw walking through the waters of baptism today, if you've never come to that place in your life, boy, there's some folks that would love to just take a moment and talk to you, some pastors and some other prayer partners here at The Chapel, love to take just a few minutes to talk to you about that. When we dismiss in a moment, if you just come right across the atrium into the Fireside Room, they'd love to take a moment and tell you what it looks like to receive Jesus, to begin this journey of faith.

Father, for those of us who have been transformed by you, we know that, God, sometimes the beautiful response of anger that really is a part of the Imago Dei of who we've been made in your likeness, that is a defense mechanism in a sense to those things that rage against love and truth and grace and righteousness. God, we know that we let it get corrupted by our own sinfulness. I pray that you would point out to us those areas where human anger has been clearly seen in our hearts and lives because we know that it doesn't bring about the righteousness God desires. Would you please help us to rid ourselves of that and by your Spirit showing us in our hearts and in our minds where that issue is and what the source of it is and also understanding how we can repent and seek forgiveness where necessary? May we act now rather than later because our concern is for your glory and not our own. We trust you to do this in our hearts and we thank you for your word to all of us. May we hear and receive and respond. May you give us your strength to do what we need to do to respond to you word. In Jesus's name, amen.

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