“How to Lay Aside Anger”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 4.26-27
Ephesians chapter 4. The text will be verses 26-27.“Open a newspaper, click on daytime TV or board a big city subway, and you’ll see that there are plenty of angry people around.” That begins a news article on abcnews.com. “Fortunately,” … the article says … “there’s lots of advice about what to do about anger. But what’s true and what’s myth?”
“Years ago, New Yorker Wendy Galfund responded to a [ABC] posting seeking people with anger problems. [ABC] followed Wendy with [their] cameras and learned that life for her is a constant struggle against … life.
At the supermarket, Wendy was furious because she couldn’t find her shopping list. Then the fruit wasn’t good enough. Then, of course, the checkout lines were full. While everyone else just waited patiently, Wendy [actually] pestered the store to open more registers, unsuccessfully.
At the post office, facing another big line, Wendy again fought the system, but she failed there too. And crossing [the] streets [of New York], she shouted at cars who failed to give her the right of way.
Perhaps …if on a small scale…you can relate to Wendy.
What does she need to do?
Well, ABC hired Dr. Redford Williams to help Wendy. That was 15 years ago. Today, Wendy lives with her family in a small New Jersey suburb and said that Dr. Williams’ ideas, like carrying a book to read while waiting in lines, helped her.
She says, quote … “If I’m waiting on lines it becomes more pleasant,” she said. “I’ve done that since I moved out of the city. I have a little book all the time with me. … I still can get crazy, but it does help.”
Well, what do you think? There’s nothing wrong with having a book in line with you, right?
Is this the only way to handle anger?
If you only use these kinds of methods, you will never actually learn to lay aside anger. You will just box it in and when the time comes for testing, you’ll find yourself to be the same angry person. You know true growth has happened in you when you’re put into the same situation and, without any gimmicks, you’re able to be patient, loving and kind when you used to display anger and bitterness.
And so this morning, we will look at Ephesians 4:26-27 and discover together “How to lay aside sinful anger.”
Ephesians 4:26-27 26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
So first we begin with a positive command, “be angry.” The negative command, “do not sin.” Then we have a guideline for handling anger, “do not let the sun go down on your anger” as well as the motivation “do not give the Devil an opportunity.”
But first, let’s define anger.
What is anger? “Anger is a strong emotion of displeasure because of a perceived wrong that must be made right.” “Anger is a strong emotion of displeasure because of a perceived wrong that must be made right.”
Most anger is sinful anger because were only looking out for our own interests, not God’s interests.
Positive: Be Angry
First, notice the command, “be angry.” Clearly, just from reading the command, we know anger itself is not evil. We’re commanded to be angry! God is described as being angry. For example, in Exodus 22, the Lord is concerned for the widow and the orphan. The Lord says that if Israel would harm the widow or the orphan, God says… Exodus 22:24 … My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
Jesus also, during his earthly ministry, was angry.
Jesus was angry
In Matthew 21:12, Jesus enters into the Temple and drives out those who were buying and selling and he overturned the money tables. The religious leaders were cheating God’s people by telling the people they had to buy the sacrificial animals that they themselves provided because theirs wasn’t good enough.
In Mark 3:5, the religious leaders of the day were hard in their hearts and did not want Jesus to heal people on the Sabbath day. And it says that Jesus was angry and grieved over their hardness of heart.
He consistently felt righteous anger toward oppression and injustice and he expressed that anger.
So anger is a righteous emotion that God Himself has. And there are times when we should be angry.
God has given anger to us to arouse us against evil and to motivate us to correct injustice. The goal, of course, is to be angry only at things that God is angry about.
TRANS: This isn’t easy. Moses had a hard time choosing righteous over sinful anger.
Moses was angry
Moses received the 10 Commandments on those two tablets of stone on the mountain, and then he came down and what did he see? He saw God’s people in the grips of idol worship. So he threw down those 10 Commandments and smashed them. But Moses did not receive a rebuke from God for this.
But on another occasion Moses was angry. You remember when Moses and God’s people were in the wilderness and God told Moses to speak to the rock. But what did Moses do? After talking to the people … saying … “you rebels” he hits the rock twice, instead of speaking to it.
You can understand the anger he must’ve felt because of those people. They had rebelled against him all these years, and grumbled against him. And for this display of anger, God rebuked Moses and did not allow him to enter into the Promised Land.
In the first instance, when Moses broke the two tablets of the 10 Commandments, Moses was angry with sin. The second instance, when Moses struck the rock, he was angry because he had been hurt so many times by the people of Israel.
This leads me to consider some guidelines for anger.
Guidelines for Anger
First, ask yourself is this something that God would be angry at? In your case, not likely. You need to assume the answer is “no” first.
As the LORD says to Jonah 4:4 The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”
There are indeed some things to be angry about, like sin. We are to be angry because of some things, but most likely our anger is sinful anger. Secondly we need to be slow to anger.
James 1:19-20 19 … everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
If you’re quick to get angry, this is not righteous anger. If you have a tendency to “fly off the handle” the anger you are expressing is sinful anger.
God is slow to anger … Exodus 34:6 [When] the Lord passed by in front of [Moses, the LORD]… proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;
So, first be careful to be angry at what God is angry at … and be slow to anger…. And notice what our text says…
Ephesians 4:26-27 26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Third guideline for anger, do not let the sun go down on your anger.
So here we have a time limit regarding anger. You must reconcile, get things right, confess sin … All before going to bed. There is a time limit on your anger.
So, first be careful to be angry at what God is angry at … and be slow to anger…. And make things right before going to bed at night.
TRANS: Now, how about some motivation to obey this?
Motivation for Obedience
Ephesians 4:27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.
“Do not give the devil an opportunity.” It is possible not to do that… You could give the devil an opportunity with your anger. If you do not handle anger properly, the devil can gain a foothold into your life and the life of your loved ones. Lack of patience, love, compassion, and kindness in someone’s life and family can ruin the family.
If you are easily offended or too quick to jump on somebody else’s imperfections, or you get angry every time that that same thing happens … do you know how easy it is for Satan and his demons to tempt you to be angry at those things?
For example, if you always get angry because your husband doesn’t put his clothes in the dirty laundry, even though the dirty laundry is only 6 feet away, how easy would it be for Satan to tempt a husband and wife in that area? [a whisper to the husband …. ] “Go ahead, leave it on the floor….” And to the wife … “Look at that awful husband of yours, he did it again …. ” …. That’s quite simple, isn’t it?
If you have a pattern of anger, Satan can easily exploit that and it will most certainly ruin you and your relationships if you don ‘t choose to please God in this area of anger. And if you keep letting this slide and pushing it under the rug, you will fail to please God in your life and Satan will use you to be a constant source of temptation in others.
And so really, ask yourself … would Christ really be angry at this? Jonah 4:4 … “Do you have good reason to be angry?” Was Christ angry at imperfections or when he received constructive criticism? Is the reason why I’m angry because someone has a hard heart and is displeasing God because of obvious sin? Or is it more likely that I’m angry because I’m not getting my way? I think if we were honest, most, if not all, of our anger is sinful anger.
TRANS: So anger can be a godly response and a wicked response. It all depends on if we have God’s motives at heart and are slow like God is.
Now since anger can be righteous or sinful, we have the command in the passage … “Be angry and do not sin.” Be angry, yes in certain cases, but do not sin.
And that last one is hard part. “Not sinning” do you find that difficult at all, ok? … That’s hard, to say the least!
Negative: Don’t sin
So, how do we not sin? You would think we’d have the answer in this passage, but at first glance after just reading this, we don’t seem to have the answer on how to put off sinful anger and put on the opposite.
But the answer to anger is for those who are willing to do some digging. You’ll notice at the beginning of verse 26, it is in all capital letters. This is a quotation from Psalm 4:4. I would invite you to turn back there now. Psalm 4. And what we’ll have here is some more application regarding laying aside sinful anger.
Psalm 4 is a psalm that describes a source of potential anger. Because of what’s going on in the David’s life, he could really be hopping mad! David has been unjustly accused of some sin or crime. Imagine being falsely accused of some sin, or even a crime. And you know, for example, whoever is accusing you is doing this to get you.
For example verse two, Psalm 4:2 O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?
Obviously, David is experiencing the harshness of lies. There are people lying against him and David is receiving the brunt of it.
Perhaps you believe that there are people in your family or in your workplace and they believe or you think they believe lies about you. Someone you care about doesn’t believe the truth about you, but they believe evil against you. Are you to get angry over this?
Well, what’s the solution? The answer verse four … This is the verse Paul quotes … Psalm 4:4 Tremble [the idea here is to be angry. That’s why the Greek translation that Paul quotes from says “be angry” … That’s the idea behind tremble here.], and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.
You can’t have sinful anger when someone has wronged you. If God is angry, it would be because of their sin against God … that’s what really matters … their sin against God should anger us, not that we’re feeling the brunt of it.
So as Paul wrote, be angry and do not sin do not let the sun go down on your anger. You can see that same idea here, meditate in your heart upon your bed.
Meditate: Purposeful Thinking
The first bit of counsel here to resolve sinful anger is through meditation. “Meditate in your heart and be still.” And when you’re angry, you certainly are meditating. But you are not meditating on the right things and you’re still or quiet in your heart. You need to practice meditating or thinking hard on things that don’t get you all fired up!
So to resolve sinful anger, practice meditation or purposeful thinking.
But purposeful thinking on what? Keep going verse five … be committed to offer the sacrifices of righteousness and trust in the Lord.
Meditate on offering sacrifices of righteousness
The phrase “to offer the sacrifices of righteousness” tells us that we need to purposefully do righteous things. Purposefully do righteous things.
When you are angry, you are thinking harmful thoughts against the person you’re angry with. You need to think about how you can do good and righteous things. You need to think about how you can be compassionate and gracious and loving toward them in the moment of anger. Think purposefully about that. I would recommend making a list of at least 10 things that you can do that would be righteous and loving and kind and compassionate towards those that you are most tempted to be angry with.
TRANS: Secondly, not only meditate and plan on doing loving acts, but also trust in the LORD.
Trust in the LORD
It also says in verse five, “offer sacrifices of righteousness and trust in the Lord.” When you are angry, you are trusting in yourself.
Your spouse can be a source of anger for you because your spouse does not do what you want her or him to do. My iPhone does not obey me and my kids don’t either, and I’m pulling my hair out! Why is that? Because you are trusting in yourself; you are not trusting in the Lord. Specifically, you do not know to an intimate degree the sovereignty or the complete control of God. God is in control!
The reason why you get so angry in these circumstances is because you have failed to understand who is in control … and it ain’t you! You had believed you were in control of that situation in which you were angry, but it didn’t go your way, so you got angry.
You thought you could get your iPhone and your kids and your spouse to obey you, but it’s not happening and now you’re angry and it’s showing you that you have been proud to think that you were in control. You think it’s up to you to fix those problems. No … you are not the Holy Spirit. You must commit yourself to trusting in him. Trust in him when your loved one or friend is grating on you.
Remember again when Moses was sinfully angry when he struck the rock instead of speaking to it? The Lord rebuked him for his anger …
Numbers 20:12 But the Lord says [in that rebuke], “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
The rebuke was that he did not believe …he did not trust the LORD. Turn to Jonah chapter 4. I’d like to show you God’s control of a situation in which even a prophet of God was angry.
Jonah 4. Jonah has just preached to the violent man-slaughtering Ninevites and they repented and Jonah hates that. He wanted God to destroy them.
Jonah 4:1-11 1 But it [the fact that the Ninevites repented …that ] greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 “Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” 4 The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” 5 [no answer….] Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. 6 So the Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. 7 But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8 When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.” 9 Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
God appointed the helpful plant as well as the worm to destroy the plant. And Jonah was angry in the midst of God’s clear sovereignty, God’s control. God can bring situations into our lives that test us in our anger. The issue is will you trust Him?
Do you trust Him when you’re getting angry? God’s in control of all your loved ones and all your gadgets and other situations that make you angry! Are you going to know His sovereignty and trust Him in His sovereignty over that situation?
APP: So write down those specific acts of kindness patience and love and do them. And then meditate and plan those things and pray over trusting the Lord.
TRANS: Now that we have addressed the passage, I think the applications that follows here will fall in line with this. I’m going to break away from the passage for a little bit here and give us a battle plan for tackling the sin of anger. And I will incorporate some of things that just spoken of from Ephesians 4 and Psalm 4.
TRANS: First, What Makes You Angry?
Let’s say you’re stuck in traffic and you are running late …
And the light turns green and the car at the front of the line doesn’t move and it causes you to miss the light. How angry would you be?
How about your kids? Let’s say they know that they are not allowed to eat the living room, but they choose to disobey and they spell fruit punch all over the couch and white carpet. Angry?
Let’s say you’re in church and one of the pastor’s kids starts wailing uncontrollably … Does that make you angry?
Waiting in line, the clothes are not put away, your mother-in-law interferes, your spouse doesn’t listen or doesn’t treat you the way he or she should, you receive criticism and you can’t take it, your siblings are pushing your buttons…again … you’ve lost control over somebody or something else…
TRANS: What’s going on in each of those instances?
Causes of Sinful Anger
It could be that your Pride has been hurt. Something has happened or someone said something that harms your exalted perception of yourself. Your pride was hurt. Or …
It could be frustration. In other words, the reason why your angry is because your plans were messed up. You can’t do something or the people or the gadgets in your life don’t obey you.
But also you’re angry because you are …
Covetousness: You want [blank] … and you can’t have it. You lost a sport’s game or any game … or you didn’t get an A+ or you weren’t the best at [whatever]. You’re covetous and you can’t have something you want real bad.
James 4:1-2 1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source [of fights and conflicts … ] your pleasures that wage war in your[self]? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder [in other words, you are angry with each other]. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel….
So, you’re covetous and it didn’t work out, so now you’re angry….or finally you were hurt …
Hurt: Someone was unkind to you and so you lash out.
TRANS: Now that you have identified your source of anger, how do you actually put on love, compassion, and patience?
How to lay aside lying and put on love, compassion, and patience
Pray for Conviction about Anger
Pray over Bible verses about anger; don’t excuse it, really seek the Lord about it.
Outbursts of anger is a work of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-20. In our passage in Ephesians 4:31 we’re told to put away bitterness, wrath anger.
Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
Proverbs 22:24 Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man,
Is someone trying to tell you that you may be an angry person? How do these verses make you feel? You would do well to seek God about these verses …
Proverbs 29:11 A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools.
Matthew 5:21-22 21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
TRANS: Pray over verses like these and own those verses, make them yours! Ask God for conviction. And then put off that anger…
Put off that anger
Putting off anger is simply asking for forgiveness from God and from those you’ve hurt. Confess that sin to God; talk to him about that sin, repent of that sin. Tell Him you want to turn away from it.
TRANS: Pray over Bible verses on anger, put off anger through confession and repentance, and then …
Put on the opposite of anger: Love, compassion, patience, self-control
Put on the habits of the new man. To change we need to behold God’s glory in His Word, 2 Corinthians 3:18 says. So we need to see God’s patience and love and his long-suffering and his sovereignty. If we know the vastness of His control, the Lord can enable us to be self-controlled in our anger. If we see His patience and long-suffering, we ourselves will be equipped to be patient.
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
How kind has God been to you, to lead you to repentance? Ought you not be kind to others?
Psalms 86:15 But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.
Meditate on these verses, give your heart to God’s words here, write down your thoughts over them and pray through them before the Lord, asking Him to work them into your heart.
And then actively plan and do specific acts of love and patience and kindness, praying for help to please God.
Plan specific acts of love and kindness. This is where the rubber meets the road. And it is harmful to your pride to do something like this. And that’s part of the point. What does your wife need … what does your husband need, your children, your friends, coworkers … How can you specifically love them and care for them if you are struggling with anger with them? And in a way that is unique something that you’re not already doing? Meditate and plan on doing something for them. Plan to be patient the next time that that same situation arises; pray that the next time that that situation happens, you’d be patient and kind, loving.
And the whole time, we need to have the right motive: to please the Lord and to love your neighbor as yourself. Any other motive is unbiblical.
Please the Lord; do this for Him. Do this to glorify God in your marriage and your family. Do this to glorify the Lord at work or even when you’re by yourself and your tempted to be angry. Do this for the honor and glory of God himself.
If you’ve spent much time on Facebook or other social media, you’ve probably noticed how quickly emotions—pride, happiness, disappointment —can spread online. What’s curious is that one emotion travels faster than all the others. Researchers out of Beihang University in China have determined which one it is.
After the study, they conclude that joy moves faster than sadness or disgust, but nothing is speedier than anger. Users would post things that made them angry and the most shocking of course would get shared the most.
In many cases, these bouts of anger would trigger a chain reaction of more anger. User A would influence User B and C, and outward and onward in an ever-widening circle of rage. Anger is catching on …
Proverbs 22:24-25 24 Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, 25 Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.
In your anger, you are teaching those around you to be anger and it gets harder for them to be patient. Your kids are learning your angry ways. Kids, you’re teaching your friends and siblings to feel this way too…lay aside anger God’s way.
420, love lifted me. Notice last line … true in salvation, true for sanctification as well.