From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Scriptures: Ephesians 4:26-27
"When you are angry---do not sin---don't let the sun go down while you are still angry and don't give the devil a foothold"
1 Corinthians 13:5
"...(agape) love is not easily angered...it keeps no record of wrongs"
"Let God be true and every woman and man a liar"
"Be angry...but do not sin!"
That seems funny...I thought it was a sin to be angry.
The doctrinal perspective on the nature of Jesus of Nazareth was that Jesus was without sin...but please note this:
"Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers!'" (Matthew 21:12-13)
Jesus was fully human but without sin...this is our basic doctrinal affirmation, and yet --- if this isn't a picture of a man being angry, I'm just going to have to return to school for a little more sophistication. This is a model for us...but how do we apply this to our lives, so we can be a blessing to others and also be a confident, yet fully human, well-adjusted individual. This is a great challenge to followers of Jesus, and really, each and every one of us. We can overcome...
In addition, we--as a nation--have been challenged by another old disease, another old enemy, from our inception that relates to racial tension and intolerance, and what comprises proper policing in our streets and byways. The nation is divided on these issues. In response to this, many have expressed great anger over the very "real issues" we face. I am pleased and comforted by the unique and helpful teaching of Scripture that assists me as a child of God to perceive these feelings of anger in a much more constructive and insightful way. As the father of my children and as a citizen of a troubled nation, I am blessed with the wisdom of God's Word to provide guidance for me.
God, help my hidden and repressed angry feelings to surface. Help me to have the courage to face them. Help me understand how I need to take care of myself with the people I feel anger toward. Help me stop telling myself that something must be wrong with me when people at times victimize me and then I feel angry about it. I can trust my feelings to signal problems that need my attention. You, Lord, can gently lead me to address those feelings in a positive, triumphant way. This morning, I pray with great confidence, in Jesus' holy and practical way. Amen.
Here we go. It's about time you got angry---yes, THAT angry! Note as I suggest such an audacious thing...that we understand what underlies anger. Indeed, anger is not the emotion. Underlying anger are three basic feelings. They are:
Anger can be such a powerful and frightening emotion. Note that it can also be a feeling that guides us to make important decisions that prior were difficult or even impossible decisions for us to make. Anger can signal other people's problems, our problems, or simply problems we need to address.
Recognize that we are holding on to what has affected us. Pause. Turn it around. As we say these days, "Flip it!" Give information. Not pulsating lava. It works. In any case, we've got to get it out. Stop being such a perfect person. Be like Jesus --- Get angry! But like Paul, get angry, but do not sin.
With the information of the Scriptures we can legitimize anger. Uninformed people of faith think that ANGER IS A SIN and therefore they hide it and are ashamed of it. Denial of being angry at times in the life of a believer is equivalent to lying. We need to know how to be honest with ourselves, transparent, and yet straight forward in terms of personal integrity. One of the great teaching of Saint Paul, as he reflected upon the Psalms of his Jewish tradition, is..."BE ANGRY....but do not sin...".
Often, what we do with anger instead of facing it --- and what it is telling us to do in terms of what is best for us --- is to feel hurt, victimized, trapped, and guilty. We experience uncertainty about how to care for ourselves --- which makes us uncertain about how to properly care for and deal with others, especially those who have made us angry. Our tendency is to withdraw from others, deny our deepest feelings, make excuses for our behavior as it shows up in the strangest of places...basically to hide our heads and our hearts in the sand --- while the strong grip of anger taking hold of us.
In the process, we punish, get even with the person who is the object of our anger, we whine, and we wonder why good persons like us could have ever been offended...the ultimate pity party! Come on, let's face it, that is no way to live!
It gets worse. We repeatedly forgive the other person --- and then take it back.
In a committed intimate relationship we become afraid the other person will leave us, abandon us, if we deal with our anger toward that person. Not dealing with anger is, in this respect, especially harmful in the relationship of one partner with a husband, or another partner with a wife.
We get to the point where we are afraid of our anger, and the awesome power it has over us. Often we don't know we have a right --- even a RESPONSIBILITY to ourselves --- to allow ourselves to feel and learn from our anger. In other words, we try to escape from the potency of angry feelings thinking we cannot overcome. It's embarrassing that we can accomplish the remarkable things we do as human beings, including going to the moon or crossing the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean in a raft, and yet, we don't know how to handle the very human feeling of anger.
Brothers and sisters, come to terms with it. Don't try to hide it, because we're such nice people...after all, nice people never get angry, do they!?! The truth is, last time I checked, we all get angry. Even Jesus got angry, just as surely as "Jesus wept" (John 11:35) Don't think you are exempt from anger, even though you may be Mother Theresa or the Secretary General of the United Nations. Don't think that you are better or worst than any other person because you are human and bound to be angry, if you are normal.
The subject of dealing with anger is of utmost importance to the Church and to the world we live in. To sum things up, the wisdom of the Scriptures in dealing with the subject matter of anger is one of the most profound teachings we can receive in regard to living an abundant life. From the experience I have had in my interactions with others, I must say, the insights of Scripture have been a saving grace for me through the years.
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