Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- Read Proverbs 15:1 out loud in your group. How does this piece of wisdom help your interpersonal relationships? Where have you been able to apply this in your life recently?
- Why is God angry at sin? What is His response to it? What should our response be when we are wronged by others, in light of what Jesus has done?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
That's awesome. Who remembers Schoolhouse Rock!, by the way?
Yeah, right? All the old people. Hey, let me ask you a question. How many of you have ever gotten in a fight with a pillow?
No, no, no. Not a pillow fight. A pillow fight is something that every person... That's like a... That's a passage in life that you have to work through, right? Some spend the night party that you're at, and then somehow somebody hits somebody with a pillow, and then everybody's bludgeoning one another with pillows. I'm not talking about that you've had a pillow fight. I'm saying, have you ever been in a fight with a pillow?
In other words, one of those. Maybe when you were a teenager. I know it happened for me. I can't remember exactly how old I was, and I don't remember exactly what precipitated this, but I was angry. And, I was angry about something that someone had said to me or ways that I had been spoken to. And, I decided in my room, by myself, I would take it out on my pillow.
And, so I was working my pillow over. I mean, it was jabs. Right? It was uppercuts. It was... Right? Haymakers. I was doing everything. I was... I literally... I was going off on my pillow. Right? 'Cause I was so angry.
And, I am just bludgeoning my pillow and bludgeoning my pillow and bludgeoning my pillow, and then I come to the realization, I am doing zero damage to the pillow. The pillow is able to absorb every single time I hit it. I'm not incredibly exhausted, and I have decided that I am going to quit fighting. Has anyone every fought with their pillow?
Yeah. Well, I'm not necessarily suggesting that this is the only way to go about dealing with when people say angry words to you, but it's a better way than some of the ways that I've seen people choose to deal with angry words.
I was reading a story about a man in Tampa who is on one of the social media sites, in this case it was Facebook, and he was posting on there his political opinions about everything. Pretty soon, people started commenting and there was one person in particular who kind of started commenting in opposition to his political position and started being a little bit, you know, straightforward with him.
Well, that started a volley back and forth, as you could imagine, right? One amps up the other, and then the other starts amping it up a little bit more, and then it started to get a little vicious online. You can see how this would go, right? Because it starts out with somebody putting something political out there, and then somebody puts something back, and then somebody puts something back, and then they put something back, and then it gets nastier and nastier and nastier until... You know how it goes.
"I can't believe that you like that stupid idiot blank!" You know? "Well, what do you mean, that stupid idiot blank? You're part of the problem. You're the idiot! You're the moron!" Right? And, then that's where that goes, and then it just starts to go back and forth, and back and forth to the point where it went from being virtual to being real.
Because the guy who initially sent the kind of post out there, and then the guy who was mad, the one guy went to the other guy's house. He knew him. And, then the guy came charging out of his house, and then the guy out of his car pulled a gun out, shot him in the leg and in the rear-end. Thankfully, that was the extent of it. Nobody died. But, do you know what happened? Angry words kept promoting angry words kept promoting angry words... And, it went from being virtual to being real.
Has anybody ever seen angry words provoke in your life? Have you ever seen people that just can't stop and it just keeps going and keeps going? And, then somebody says angry words back, and it kind of runs you into almost always a fight. Now, it may not be a physical confrontation like the one that I just described in Tampa, but it sometimes happens even when we use words in anger or we use words that are harsh, even in our relationships.
How many people are married? Raise your hand. All right. How many people have any relationships in their life, any at all? You're a child. You're a parent. You're an... That's all of us. Just put your hand up, right? This wasn't a trick question. Please, just... It's all of us. Right?
We all have relationships, right? You've dated somebody, or you're married, or you've got kids or grandkids, or you've got friends. Right? Co-workers. We've all got them. And, when harsh words enter in, it starts to amp everything up. Right? Harsh words that are motivated maybe by anger.
You can see this play out, by the way, in relationships. You can see this play out in marriages. You can see this play out in dating relationships. In fact, I can name for you five individual words that when you say them in the context of a marriage relationship or you say them in the context of a dating relationship, that these are almost guarantees that this is going to somehow end in a fight. It's almost a guarantee. Right?
Here, let me give you the first word, nothing. So, when your spouse comes and says, "What's the matter with you?" "Nothing!" That's just the passive aggressive way of you trying to not start the fight and wanting them to start the fight so that you can unload the... "What's wrong with you?" "Nothing!" And, in your mind, you're going, "Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!" Right? That's what's happening. And, it never ends well when you answer, "Nothing!" That just is not going anywhere, right?
How about a second word? Whatever. In one word, you can be in a conversation and they could say something, you say something, they say something, you say something, and then you just go, "Whatever!" In one word, you can completely marginalize all of their feelings and dismiss their humanity all in one word fell swoop, right? "Whatever!" Whatever? That's what's going to happen right there, right? It just does not go well.
There's more. I'd jotted down a few of them. Here's another one, nevermind. Nevermind if just another way of saying, "You're probably too stupid to understand what I'm arguing right now, so nevermind." That doesn't end well. It's not going anywhere.
Or, this one, it's kind of a corresponding friend to nevermind and it's this one, fine. Fine is meant to just end the conversation. It's not meant to continue conversation. It's not meant to do anything. It's just meant to end everything. "Fine!" And, then, usually, the response back is, "Fine!" And, then the response back to that, "F-fine! Fine! Fine!" And, that's how that goes, right? It doesn't end well.
But, sir, if you really want to get in an argument with your spouse, here's the one you use, chill. "Do not tell me to chill! My emotions are my emotions! I will not calm down!" That's what you get right there. Don't do it. Just some advice from Dr. Jerry I thought I would pass along.
So, how do we deal with... How do we deal with words of anger and angry people when we have those kinds of scenarios in our life? How do we deal with the anger that words produce? Because they do, don't they? Have you ever been in those scenarios where you just walked away saying, "What they said absolutely incensed me?" Right?
And, oftentimes, what our response is is that we say something just as incensing to them because we've been so inflamed inside and we're so angry inside. So, how do we deal with the anger that comes from the words that people use? What is it we should do?
Well, that's why we're going to, in this series, we're going to be looking at some proverbial wisdom. Now, when I use the term "proverbial wisdom," I'm actually using that in the sense of we're going to find wisdom from the Proverbs. Right? Proverbial wisdom. This isn't proverbial wisdom in the sense of, "Ah, this is just kind of some stuff passed down from generation to generation." Those are things, proverbial wisdom, that we talk about in our culture, but what I'm talking about are Proverbs that are given us by God that aren't meant to be laws necessarily, they're not meant to be promises necessarily. But, they teach us the way of wisdom that when we do these things... Generally speaking, "This is what wisdom looks like," it says, "and this is typically the outcome."
And, there's one that I want to point out today that I want us to unpack together for a few minutes, and it's in Proverbs chapter number 15. If you're looking for that in a Bible, a real easy way, if you don't know your way around, is to simply open your Bible to the middle. If you open it in the middle, you might run into the Psalms and if you are in the Psalms, you are nextdoor to the Proverbs, just make a right. All right? That's the easy way to find the Book of Proverbs. It's right in the middle of your Bible.
It's in Proverbs Chapter 15, in verse number one. Here's what it says. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Now, we're going to leave that there for a second, and I want to remind you of something that the Proverbs, generally speaking when you're reading them... One of the things that you need to remember is that Proverbs generally are meant to be consumed whole.
In other words, the Proverb is given to you in a certain format. Proverb, as literature, is meant to be taken as a whole. In other words, you eat the whole thing at one time. I'm not talking about the whole chapter, I'm talking about the whole Proverb. Right? What we have that we're looking at right now, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
...Right? This is what we do. We take Proverbs and we eat them whole. Why? Because Proverbs are written in such a way as to just give us common sense wisdom on the things that it's describing. In other words, we should all be able to read this and perfectly understand what it's saying. It's not overly difficult to interpret, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, and a harsh word stirs up anger." Everybody goes, "Yep! I got that."
Now, even though these are meant to be consumed whole, what I want to do at the risk of overdoing it... But, what I want to do for a moment is recognize that these Proverbs are written in Hebrew, not in English. And, they are Hebrew Proverbs, they're not English Proverbs. And, as a result, when we translate from the Hebrew, there's a vast kind of word pictures that we get from some of the words here that just help us to understand what's being said even more richly, even more discreetly.
In fact, when we see the word "a gentle answer," that word in the Hebrew language, "gentle," in some of your translations, it may say "a soft answer" or it might say "a tender answer." The word for "gentle answer" has to do with soft or tender, sensitive in that sense. Right?
But, then you also have the word "turns away," right? "A gentle answer," a soft or tender answer, "turns away." That word actually means "to deflect" or "to change course." In other words, it was something that was headed in one direction that is now aimed in another direction. And, then of course the word "wrath" here at the very end of this phrase. The word "wrath" simply means this, "hot anger" or "indignation," "hot anger" or "indignation."
Then, it says, "but a harsh word," that word "harsh" means hurtful, painful. Has anybody ever had someone say something to them that was hurtful or painful? Of course you have. We all have. That's what's being described here as a harsh word.
In fact, there's another place in the Proverbs that talk about these kinds of words. It's in Proverbs Chapter 12, Verse 18. It says, "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." You know that feeling, right? When we read these things, we start to go... in our minds, we're going, "Man, I know exactly what that's like." When the words, harsh words, have been aimed in my direction and they pierce like a sword inside of me. Right?
You know the old phrase, right? "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." That's bull. Right? We know that's not true. And, by the way, people use that as proverbial wisdom. It's actually a proverbial lie. Sticks and stones may break my bones, and sometimes words hurt worse! There are times in my life where people have said things to me and I'm like, "I would've rather you punched me in the face!" I'm not suggesting that, by the way. I'm just saying there are times where you had gone... And, that hurt way worse. The damage was way deeper. At least that punch in my face, it's going to heal up in two or three days. Right? But, this word may have carved me up for a really long time. Harsh words, man, they cut us really, really deeply.
He says "a harsh word," and then he uses this phrase, "stirs up." The idea of "stirs up" means actually to increase or to ascend or to escalate. That's what the word, in the Hebrew language, actually means. And, then he uses a last word here... Well, I can show you what we're talking about when it talks about "stirring up" in Proverbs Chapter 26. He says, "Without wood, a fire goes out; without a gossip, a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so it a quarrelsome person for kindling strife." Right? I mean, you've seen fires, right? They go out when you don't put wood on them, when you don't put coals on them. They just kind of dwindle out. But, when we keep on with harsh words, it just continues to stir up or ignite or increase or escalate the very thing that we're dealing with.
The last word here is the word "anger," and that word "anger" is interesting in the Hebrew language because it's actually referencing the nose or the nostrils. You're going, "What?" Well, so there was kind of this phrase in the ancient world that talked about... the Jews would say if you had a really long nose, that meant that you had a lot of patience. If you had a really short nose, it meant that you had a short fuse, the way we would say it, right? And, so this word "anger," in the Hebrew language, this one is actually tied to the idea of nose or nostrils, which I find interesting.
So, in other words, if you were to take this phrase back one second... If you were to take Proverbs 15, Verse 1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger," makes perfectly good sense. But, we could expand what that says by looking at the words within it, and we could actually say it this way, "A soft and tender response can deflect someone's hot anger, but hurtful and painful words will increasingly cause someone's nostrils to flare." Right? Now you can see it kind of from both angles at this point.
Now, this Proverb that we're talking about here, it's not hard to prove, is it? Have you ever seen this Proverb in action? Have you ever seen this Proverb at work? It's not hard to prove. Unfortunately, the part that we can prove the best is not that a gentle answer turns away wrath, but that a harsh word stirs up anger.
We can see it all of the time, and we're able to prove the truthfulness of this particular proverb because we see how harsh words stir up anger. Have you ever been at the very beginning of, not one that you're in, but you've been watching the very beginning of an argument and you start seeing the harsh word volley, and you know exactly where that's headed? Anybody? I've seen it a million times. You ever been on a baseball field? Ever been in kids' athletics?
Right? Happens all the time. It also happens inside of homes. It happens in schools. This is something that is very easy for us to prove. But, when we put into practice the first part of this, a gentle answer turning away wrath, a soft and tender response, deflecting someone's hot anger, something really unique happens when we put this into effect. When we respond with a gentle answer instead of a harsh word, it diffuses the situation. Generally speaking, I'm not saying 100% of the time, but generally speaking, it diffuses the situation.
But, do you know what else it does? It does something even more remarkable. Not only does it start to diffuse the situation with the person who is bringing angry words against us, but it also begins to diffuse the wrath in our own hearts.
You see, this is why this is such an incredible thing is because this isn't just about diffusing the wrath that is going to be aimed at us, it's also about diffusing the wrath that's in our own hearts. And, when we put this into practice, it's remarkable what God does. By the way, it wouldn't hurt any of us to memorize this Proverb and keep it on the forefront of our mind in all of our relationships, right? "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." It's true. It's true. It's true. And, it would be fitting for all of us to memorize that and keep it at the forefront of our minds.
Now, you say, "Okay, Jerry. I get that. Pretty straightforward. It's a proverb. I get it. And, now I get the lesson today. The lesson is give a gentle answer, and we can diffuse the situation with the people yelling at us and we can diffuse the situation in our own hearts. You can let us go early."
Well, that lesson is certainly true. But, I think there's something more going on here. I think there's something even richer and deeper, and maybe even with a depth of meaning that we haven't thought about when we come to this particular proverb, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
Because what we start thinking about this, we start thinking about the relationships that we have. What relationships do I have that sometimes there's a harsh word in those relationships and what should my response be? That's going on in our minds. But, there's also something that could be nagging at the souls of a lot of people. It's a question that we don't ask publicly. It's a question that we don't give words to. But, it's one that actually starts to get down inside of us that we're not really sure what to do with, and it's this, "What if it's not just a person who's angry at me, what if it's God? What if God's angry at me, can I diffuse that situation?"
Again, this is not something that's echoed very often, but when I say it all of a sudden something goes off inside of people's hearts when they say, "I've thought about that. I've had that gnawing at my soul before because I can't help but wonder, is God always angry at me? And, if he is, how in the world do I diffuse that anger? It doesn't seem like this Proverb applies when I'm talking about God, it only seems like it applies when I'm talking about other people. What if God's angry at me?"
You know, I've thought about why people think about that question all of the time, but they don't voice it. And, I think in part, it's because we'd been influenced by the mythologies that we read in school. You see, we have all gone to... In literature classes, we've all gone to Mount Olympus and we've met all of the various ancient kind of mythic Gods of the Greeks and the Romans, right? Whether it's Zeus or whether it's Apollo or whether it's any of those people, right?
In the ancient world, they had all kinds of Gods and Goddesses, and what's interesting about these Gods and Goddesses is that they were all the time getting angry about stuff. They'd get angry about stuff that you did, like you did something they didn't like, and then you'd get a blue bolt from the sky just like "bam!" Right? And, then you read about all of this stuff. Right?
They're always wanting particular sacrifices, and they always want your expensive gifts to give. Because it needs to somehow pacify them. It needs to placate them. They need to be made okay with everything that you're doing that they don't like, and why is it that they don't like it? Here's why. The best explanation that we have, in the ancient mythology, is this, is that because these Gods are fickle and they're moody! In other words, they're just like us. They're just like us, except they're immortal. That's basically the picture you have of the Greek and Roman Gods. They're just like us, but they're immortal and way more powerful.
And, as we read these stories, something seeps into our minds and into our hearts, this kind of idea, "Is God angry at me in the same way? Is God mad at me in the same way?" It's a question we don't talk about very often, but it's one that gnaws at our soul because we wonder, "Does God just walk around angry at me?"
Well, I guess a fair question would be this is, is God angry? Here's what I will say, He certainly has been. You can't read the Bible and not see that, right? He has been angry. There's no question about that. What is God angry at? Well, God is angry at sin. Is God angry because He, like the ancient, mythic Gods like Zeus and all of those at Olympus, is God angry because He's moody and He's fickle? No. God's angry because He's holy, and because he watches as sin takes captive people that are made in His image that He loves, and separates them and brings distance between them and Him. You know why God's angry? Because He's holy. And, do you know where His anger comes from? His love.
This isn't about being moody or fickle or stumbling around just going, "Well, I'm just angry in general," no. No, not at all. In fact, what God is angry at is He's angry at sin, and so do you know what God is going to do because of His anger at sin? He's going to pour out His wrath on it. God will pour out His wrath on sin. Right? We've just talked about these terms, haven't we, in our Proverb. We've talked about anger, and we talked about wrath.
Well, God is... does that as well. God pours out His wrath on sin. In fact, we can see that pretty clearly when we start to look at what the Apostle Paul says in the first couple of chapters of the Book of Romans. In Romans, Chapter number 1, here's what he says, "The wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. God is pouring out His wrath on sin." Romans Chapter 2 says it this way, "But, because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed."
You see, it should be obvious to us when we begin to read the scripture, that God is a God who is going to pour his wrath out on sin. Why? He's angry at sin's separation of people that He's made in His image from Him."
He's angry because He's holy. He's angry because He loves us, and He's angry at sin. What He is going to pour his wrath out on is sin. This is what God is angry about.
So, the question is, how can His wrath be turned away? That's what our Proverb talks about, isn't it? "A gentle answer turns away wrath." And, we think to ourselves, "Well, if God's angry and He's going to pour out His wrath on sin, how can His anger be turned away? How can it be deflected? How can it change course?"
You see, when we read the phrase "turn away" or "turning away," that's a phrase that gives my mind kind of a reminder of a couple of Old Testament kind of ideas. One of those Old Testament ideas is the idea of atonement. There's another word also that is used sometimes in the translation of that word in the New Testament called propitiation. There's a little bit of difference between those two things that I'm not going to go into theologically in this second.
But, let me say this. Atonement had with it the idea that God would turn away His wrath from Israel and turn it toward sacrifices in their place. You remember the sacrificial system, right? The animals would be sacrificed, and this idea of atonement in the Old Testament is that God would turn away His wrath from Israel, His people, and turn it toward sacrifices. But, the sacrifices, we know, couldn't save. The sacrifices, we know, could not make reconciliation between human beings and God. The sacrifices could not forgive sin. We all understand that, right?
What the sacrifices did, however, is that they pointed somewhere. They pointed to something. More specifically, they pointed to someone.
You see, it's always been God's design that Jesus would be the one to turn away the wrath of God from us.
It has always been God's design to do that very thing. In fact, if we were to keep reading in the Book of Romans and seeing the wrath of God revealed in Romans 1, the wrath of God revealed in Romans 2, watch what happens when we get to Romans 3. It says this, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement. Through the shedding of his blood to be received by faith. It has always been the design of God. It has always been the design of God that atonement, the turning away of God's wrath, would be because of Jesus.
You see, this is completely different! Completely different than placating the ancient pagan Gods that are really no Gods at all, these mythic creatures, right? This is completely and fundamentally different. Here's why. Because those Gods that were basically like us, but were immortal in the way that they wrote about them, they would require because of their fickleness, they would require because of their moodiness for you to sacrifice something very valuable, for you to be able to give some expensive gift. Sometimes, they even required, in these pagan rituals, for you to sacrifice human beings. Right? It was ridiculous. It was something that God has always opposed. Why? Because God, the true God, would never... understands that we could never satisfy His holiness by anything we could give Him.
We could never placate our sin by anything we'd give Him. We could give Him all that we have. We could give and say, "Here's my house. Here's my family. Here's my stuff." Right? All of that is not an acceptable sacrifice to assuage holiness. None of that can forgive sin, but Jesus can.
So, what God did... Listen to this. What God did is God actually did this Himself. God satisfied His own wrath instead of us never being able to.
I listened to what something that John Stott said one time, great British theologian and pastor, and I have expanded on what he said, but it sounds a little something like this...
God Himself gave of Himself to save us from Himself and for Himself. God Himself gave of Himself to save us from Himself and for Himself.
You see, we have no chance of saving ourselves, and that's why God has shown such grace in the gift of Jesus.
So, let me come back to this question that gnaws at us, is God angry with you? Listen carefully. If you are in Christ Jesus, I can give you a really, really clear, one-word answer, "Nope, he's not." And, do you know why? Do you know why God's not angry with you? Write this down. Because Jesus is God's gentle answer to turn away His wrath.
I told you there was more going on in this Proverb than we thought, right? Jesus is God's gentle answer to turn away His wrath. This is such good news for us, ladies and gentlemen, because God who is holy, God who is perfect, God who is angry at sin and what it destroy will pour His wrath out on sin, and do you know what Jesus has done as the perfect sacrifice, the perfect substitute? He has stood in that place and willingly taken upon himself and absorbed the wrath of a just and holy God, and he's done so willingly so that he could satisfy the justice of God; through his death, be raised from the dead and now by faith in him, we could be reconciled to God.
And, when we are in Christ, guess what? Is God angry at Jesus? Nope. "This is my son in whom I am well pleased. I love him." And, so that means if we are in him, He's not angry at us. He's not angry. He's dealt with His wrath through His son, and His son did this willingly, knowingly, not dragged along in the process.
Why? Because Jesus is God, and this was His plan all along.
This is an absolutely stunning reminder that the Gospel is so rich for us that we never, never can get to the bottoms of it. We can't exhaust the beauty of it. And, you see Jesus actually demonstrating how he was the gentle answer of God when he's on his way to the cross. In fact, did you watch when he was arrested and how he responded in those moments?
Notice what it says in Matthew Chapter 27, it says, "Meanwhile, Jesus stood before the governor and the governor asked him, "Are you the Kind of the Jews?" Here's what Jesus said, "You have said so. You have said so." That's how Jesus replied and when he was accused, Jesus was accused by the chief priest and the elders, he gave no answer.
Then, Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" But, Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge, to the great amazement of the governor.
If we were to read the words of Isaiah, Isaiah said it this way in Chapter 53, he said, "As a lamb before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."
Do you know why? Because Jesus was now God's gentle answer to turn away His wrath.
We see Jesus on a cross, and people are mocking him. They're spitting upon him. He's been beaten, and now he is hanging suspended between Heaven and Earth, and what comes out of his mouth? "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing." Why is he talking this way? Because Jesus is God's gentle answer to turn away His wrath.
Ladies and gentlemen, to live this out as Jesus did had to be painful. I'm not just talking about the physical pain. That goes without saying. Jesus was beaten with a cat o' nine tails. He was mocked, spit upon, crown of thorns, nailed to wood... extraordinarily, excruciatingly painful, a horrifying way to die, one of the worst the world has ever concocted. But, could you imagine the pain inside? That when Jesus is being called these names, that he doesn't respond. That when Jesus has all of these angry words coming at him, whether they're by Pilate or whether they're by the religious leaders, that he's not returning those? Do you know how painful it is, ladies and gentlemen, do you know this?
Do you know how painful it is when people are spewing angry words in your direction and you don't spew them back? Do you know how much it hurts inside when that happens? And, Jesus, who was sinless, was not doing this very thing. It's almost like when we read Proverbs Chapter 15, Verse number 1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath." Do you know what it's almost saying to us? That to do this, you'll have to be somewhat of a human sacrifice. That's, in effect, what it's saying. And, do you know why? Because it's teaching us to be more like Jesus.
That's exactly what he did. Jesus took it all. But, what's interesting about that is that Jesus had a secret in doing so. And, it's a secret that is shared with us in the New Testament. We don't have to be in the dark about it 'cause we think to ourselves, "How could Jesus have possibly done that? Like, if it was me on the cross and they would've been like, "Haha!" I would've been like, "That's it! A million angels! Give me some boom... those people's head," right? That's what would've been going on maybe in your head or in your heart.
But, Jesus, he had a secret that we share. Peter tells us about it when he writes one of his letters. Here's what 1 Peter, Chapter 2, "When they hurled insults at Jesus, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly." He entrusted himself to God because God is going to settle all of the scores.
So, what that means for us is this. Like Jesus, we can absorb the blow of angry words and entrust ourselves to God. You see, when we start getting to the bottom of what this Proverb actually teaches us, here's what we can learn, that like Jesus, we can absorb the blow of angry words and entrust ourselves to God.
See, ladies and gentlemen, following Jesus means we follow Jesus with action and with words. And, since God gave us the gentle answer of Jesus to turn away His wrath, what that means is that we can let the life of Jesus in us turn aside the wrath of those who bring angry words against us.
That's what we can do. So, here are your choices, ladies and gentlemen. You have two. Either you can be the one who is generating and bringing harsh words that stir up people's anger, or you can be a pillow of God's grace to absorb the anger, entrust yourself to God, and demonstrate the power of love. That is wisdom.
Let's bow our heads together.
I'm going to dismiss you in just a moment. But, my guess is in a group this large, whether you're in here or in the East worship center, I'm guessing that there may be some of us here who have never before entrusted our lives to Jesus Christ. We've never before turned from our sin and put our faith in Him. What I mean by that is this, is you've been trying to do life your own way. You've been working your way through it, figuring that if you're good enough or you do enough good things, that maybe you can placate God's anger. Let me just go ahead and cut you off. You can do nothing to ease God's anger at sin. You can do nothing to placate that. Only Jesus can.
And, only Jesus has.
So, when you put your faith and your trust in Jesus, here's what you can know, that the God who's angry at sin is not angry at you, but He loves you like He loves His son, Jesus.
Only Jesus can do that. This is the beauty of the Gospel. The God who is holy has poured out His wrath; and the son has absorbed it, satisfying the justice of God so that we could be free, so that we could be made new.
As our heads are bowed, could I say something to you that's pretty stark and pretty straightforward? But, I say it to you in love. If you pass up putting your faith in Jesus and continue to try to do life on your own, you will spend eternity separated from God in a place the Bible calls Hell.
And, the reason for that is not because God hates you, but because you have rejected Him. God has done everything on His end to show you His love. He's done everything on His end to show you grace. That even while we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us. Not because we deserved it, but because God is gracious.
And, a holy God judges sin. So, would you rather have that judgment be cast upon Jesus who paid for it and who will pay for yours? Or, would you rather try and pay up on your own? I promise you you don't want to try and pay up on your own 'cause not in a billion lifetimes could you ever pay God back.
So, my encouragement to you is this, if you've never before entrusted your life to Jesus, when we dismiss in just a moment, maybe you'd be willing to come by right outside of the atrium in the fireside room and just come by and speak to one of our pastors or prayer partners in there, and just simply say, "I want to give my life to Jesus." They'll walk you through and talk to you about what it means to receive Christ, and it will be the most important decision that you'll ever make in your life. There is no more important decision because it has eternal consequences. And, I would encourage you, I would beseech you, I would beg you if I could not to leave today unless you have settled the issue of whether you have turned from sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ. Because God has demonstrated His love for us in this, "While we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us." He loves you, and he wants you.
My hope is that you'll respond in faith.
Father, for those of us as well who claim to know you and who have followed after you maybe even for years, sometimes we let our emotions get the best of us. We let the anger of our flesh get the best of us, and as a result we stir up anger. And, instead of making things better, we make things significantly worse not only for their lives, but for our souls because we stir up a wrath in our souls that doesn't belong there.
But, you had been so gracious, God, to demonstrate that Jesus is your gentle answer to turn away your wrath. And, so because of the life of Jesus in us, we can now allow his life to live out through us, so that we can just like Jesus, absorb the angry words, entrust ourselves to the one who judges justly, and put on display the power of the love and life of God.
So, would you help us to put the Gospel on display in the way that we live our lives, even in the words that we use? And, we trust that you'll do this so that people could see Jesus in us. In a world of angry and outrageous words, may people see Jesus in us by the words that we choose and the words that we choose not to use. As done for the glory of God, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.