My daughter and I were coming home from flute lessons.  To be clear, I don’t play flute.  We noticed two cars going really fast and cutting in and out of traffic.  As they passed us, it was clear they were mad at each other.  Have you experienced road rage?  About a mile down the road, I knew there was a red light.  Sure enough, the closer we got, the light turned red.  This means, these two jack weeds were going to go at it somehow.  I turned to my daughter and said, stay away from those two, cause it’s about to get really fun.

What was happening in that moment?  Anger was coming out.  Someone was hurt or offended and now they wanted to fight.  This is one way anger comes out.  It can be loud, it can be dangerous, it is emotion pouring out for everyone to see.  That is what we will talk about today: anger.

We are in a series about what it means to rise up and stand firm.  King David wrote this.

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. NIV Psalms 20:7-8

How do we as disciples of Jesus in our culture today, rise up and stand firm?  In a world that seems like a mess, how do we have courage in God?  In the first part of this series we talked about what comes at us and steals our courage.  We are in the second part of this series and we are looking at the heart work we need to do to get courage.

Did you like Sam’s message last week?  It was about greed.  What do you think of when we say greed?  You probably think we are talking about money and how people chase after it, hoard it and try to get more of it.  Sam taught, greed is more than chasing money.  Greed is a scheme of your enemy to take you prisoner, with the goal of literally taking away your ability to live out your faith.  A person with greed is a person that is chasing what they want.  And their pursuit of what they want takes up all their margin and focus.

Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” NIV Luke 12:15

Did you see that.  Jesus said, “…all kinds of greed…”  How do we defeat this scheme of our enemy that steals our margin and focus?  How do we defeat all kinds of greed?  We give.  Last week’s talk was powerful.

This week, we talk about anger.  I shared with you the road rage example of how anger comes out.  That is when anger comes out loud.  Another way anger comes out, it kinda leaks out.  It’s quieter.  Have you seen ever experienced this?  The term for this is, ‘passive aggressive.’  Do you know what that is?  It’s when someone is hurt and they say, “I’m fine.”  We call that part passive.  However, they don’t act fine, they don’t act passive, they act grumpy or mean.  They bang doors, smash dishes, shut down, ignore people.  What they say and what they do doesn’t match.  That’s called passive aggressive behavior.

What is happening in this moment?  Anger is coming out.  Someone was hurt or offended and now they want to let you know they are hurt.  Anger may not come out in the form of a verbal or physical fight but it’s just as dangerous because it’s manipulative.  It’s the emotion of anger pouring out, or leaking out, for everyone to experience.

I want to ask you something.  Are you angry?  Over the past decade, when we preach on anger, we normally get a big response because it seems like everyone deals with this.  Do you live with anger?  Maybe for you it comes out in a loud way.  You are easily offended, quick to fight, quick to cut people off in traffic, you want immediate justice.  Maybe for you it comes out in a quiet way.  It leaks outs in a passive aggressive way.  You are hurt and you want everyone to know but instead of talking about it, you manipulate those around you by acting aggressively.  You want those around you to pay.  Maybe for you, you are angry and no one knows.  You are hurting and it’s bottled up and it’s getting worse.

Here is what we know about anger.  If you don’t deal with it, it doesn’t end well.  Anger is not your friend.  This isn’t something you can hold onto.  It’s not cute.  It’s not something you can handle.  Over time, anger becomes toxic.  That means, over time, anger will ruin your heart, will ruin your relationships, and ruin your relationship with God.

Scripture says,

Angry people stir up a lot of discord; the intemperate [hot-tempered] stir up trouble. MSG Proverbs 29:22

But you know this already, don’t you?  You know which teachers are angry and which teachers are fun.  You know the angry employee who just can’t do what they are asked without a fight.  You know the angry boss who always seems to hurt everyone who works for them.  You know the angry dad or mom in the neighborhood who explodes and everyone has to run and hide.  Or the passive aggressive person who everyone tries to make happy.  The angry person in politics who is so focused on what they want, they are comfortable hurting others.  They are so busy being ‘right’ they can’t see the damage they are doing to those around them.   You know the angry family member who hurts others.  This is what we all experience.

Anger doesn’t end well.  If it’s not dealt with, it turns toxic.  That’s why scripture says,

26 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry – but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.  And don’t stay angry.  Don’t go to bed angry. 27 Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. MSG Ephesians 4:26-27

It’s not a sin to be angry.  I know a lot of Christians who think it’s wrong to be angry.  No, anger is a real emotion.  Anger isn’t a sin.  However, it is a sin to hold onto that anger and use it as fuel or passion for revenge.

If you are angry, the first thing you need to know is that it doesn’t end well.  You can’t hold onto it, it will go toxic.

If you are angry, let’s understand why you are angry.  The reason you are angry is because someone hurt you.  It’s like a dog bite.  Someone somewhere took a bite out of you and it hurt.  For some of you, you are angry, and you know why you are angry.  You remember the moment you were hurt.  It’s frozen in your brain.  You remember the time and place.  You remember what you wore that day.  That memory is frozen in you.  Maybe someone was a close friend to you and they walked away from that friendship.  It hurt and you are angry.  Maybe it was a marriage and your spouse cheated on you.  It hurt and you are angry.  Maybe your boss made promises to you and then changed their mind.  It hurt and you are angry. So for some, you are hurt and know why.

Sometimes we are angry, and we don’t know why.  We just live angry.  And we can’t put a finger on why we are so angry.  What I’m about to say is really important so I will try to be very clear.  Chances are, if you are an adult and living angry and you don’t know why, someone wounded as a child.  And as a kid, you didn’t have handles on what was happening to you.  When you are a kid, you don’t have the ability to understand what is healthy and unhealthy.  A child in an unhealthy or harmful situation doesn’t think, “Why are people around me so unhealthy?”  A child thinks, “What’s wrong with me?”

The reason you may be angry and not know why is because, chances are, you were hurt as a child.  It could be the father who was absent and left you feeling alone.  It could be from sexual assault.  It could be the religion you were raised in that was so rules driven that to this day, you feel like God could never love you just the way you are.  It could be a family that raised you with so much guilt manipulation it has left you feeling like you will never be enough.  These are real wounds delivered to you as a child that can turn into anger as adults.

Why are you angry?  Because someone somewhere has hurt you.  Like a dog bite, they took a bite out of you and it hurt.  And chances are, it’s not getting better – is it?  We try to manage it, hide it, make excuses for it, but it just isn’t getting better.

Remember I said if not dealt with, it can become toxic?  The problem with hurt people is they walk through life demanding that other people heal that wound.  And it never works.  This is why hurt people who become angry people can become toxic people.

In general, the angry person is hard on themselves.  They overly blame themselves for things that aren’t perfect.  They beat themselves up for past mistakes.  They have little grace for themselves.  They don’t like who they are.  Some grow up into adulthood, shut down and never deal with their emotions.  Others grow up and can be explosive in their anger.

Imagine, if they don’t like themselves, how do they treat those closest to them?  Their spouse and family?  They are rough.  They treat them terribly.  Now, they may treat people outside the family nicely, but to those closest to them, they can be hard to live with.  They are comfortable picking them apart, criticizing, remembering hurts and failures from the past.  They overreact to unmet expectations.  If something goes wrong, they fix blame on others, never themselves.

Those around the angry person try to please this person.  Everyone has to walk on eggshells around them.  They allow the angry person to define the relationship.  And those around the angry person are nervous about even talking to them because they don’t want to face the blowback.

If you are angry, the first thing you need to know is that it doesn’t end well.  You can’t hold onto it, it will go toxic.

Why are you angry?  Because someone somewhere has hurt you.  Like a dog bite, they took a bite out of you and it hurt.  And now you are demanding that others heal that wound and it never works.  You may know why you are angry and you may not know why.

What do we do if we are angry?  Jesus told us.

9 “Pray along these lines: ‘Our Father in heaven, we honor your holy name. 10 We ask that your kingdom will come now. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. 11 Give us our food again today, as usual, 12 and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. 13 Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One. Amen.’ 14 Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you. TLB Matthew 6:9-14

If you are angry, you forgive.  It’s the only thing that will heal your heart.  It’s the only thing that will heal that dog bite.  Remember, other people can’t heal that wound.  If you expect others to heal that wound or dog bite, you are expecting too much from them.  You have to forgive to heal that wound.  Why?  Jesus taught, there are spiritual implications to how you handle hurt.  If you are hurt and you don’t forgive, God doesn’t forgive you of your sin.  That means you cut yourself off from God and His grace in your life.  When you forgive, God comes and forgives you and can heal your heart.  If you don’t forgive, you end up doing life without God.  And you can go to church, do discipleships, do good things, raise a family, pay the bills but you will be doing all of it without His grace in your life.

If you want God to release His love and grace and power and healing into your life, you must forgive.

If you want God to release His love and grace and power and healing into your life, you must forgive yourself.  Some of you are beating yourself up.  You are so hard on yourself.  We have all blown it, all of us, so stop acting like you are the only one.   We all need God.

If you want God to release His love and grace and power and healing into your life, you must forgive those who hurt you in that past.  Some of you are angry and you remember the time, the place the hurt was delivered to you and you are hanging on to it.  Some of you are angry and you haven’t done the work yet to discover why.  Chances are, you were wounded as a child.  You need to get alone with God and ask Him why you are angry.

If you want God to release His love and grace and power and healing into your life, you must forgive those who have hurt you today.  All of us have been hurt.  But if you want God’s presence, if you want to make sure that hurt doesn’t define your life, we need to forgive.  If not, we cut ourselves off from God.

I don’t know what you think about forgiveness.  You might be frustrated with me because you have been hurt deeply and to forgive is beyond hard.  I know it’s hard.  I know I can weeks and months and years to get the hurt behind you.  Chances are, the deeper the hurt, the longer you will remember the hurt.  I know.  The greatest thing you can do to help forgive those who have hurt you is to remember how much we hurt God and the price God paid to forgive us.

If you are angry, the first thing you need to know is that it doesn’t end well.  You can’t hold onto it, it will go toxic.  You can be angry for a moment, just don’t allow it to be fuel for revenge.

Why are you angry?  Because someone somewhere has hurt you.  Like a dog bite, they took a bite out of you and it hurt.

What do we do if we are angry?  Jesus taught, you forgive.  Why?  Because there are spiritual implications to how you handle hurt.

I want to close with this.  You and I live in a world that doesn’t care about what you believe.  So many people and all their opinions seem to overwhelm the news and social media.  No matter what you believe these days, someone is up for a fight and they would love to argue with you.  Maybe as disciples of Jesus, the way we introduce people to the kingdom of God is through forgiveness and love.  I never once said we water down what we believe, I said we need to introduce them to God’s kingdom.

I want you to think about what Jesus taught.  Ask yourself, do I live like this?

38 “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ 39 Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. 40 If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. 41 And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. 42 No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

43 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ 44 I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 45 for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. 46 If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. 47 If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” MSG Matthew 5: 38-48

Jesus taught a different kind of living.  That is a picture of courage.  Loving your enemy is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and you can’t do that if you don’t forgive.

If you are angry, the first thing you need to know is that it doesn’t end well.

Why are you angry?  Because someone somewhere has hurt you.  Like a dog bite, they took a bite out of you and it hurt.

What do we do if we are angry?  Jesus taught, you forgive.