Keep your anger under control
Last week, I had the rare privilege of speaking to a bunch of elementary school-aged kids at Cedar Springs Camp – and I had a blast!
As a pastor, I love being able to share messages each week with our congregation, but there’s nothing like speaking to a huge group kids at kids’ camp who are impressionable, enthusiastic, goofy, and best of all, laugh at my corny jokes!
The camp had a superhero theme, so I decided to use the Incredible Hulk to talk about something that we all deal with: anger.
The Incredible Hulk is one of my favorite superheroes. He’s so strong that he can pick up a car and toss it aside like it’s a Tonka Truck. He can give a Hulk smash with his fists and cause a city building to become a pile of bricks.
His muscles are so big that it rips through his shirt when he (Bruce Banner) turns into the Hulk! This is one strong dude!
However, with all that physical strength, he has one major weakness; instead of controlling his anger, his anger controls him and causes him to turn into something scary and intimidating.
Anger usually rises up within us at moments that can catch us off guard. Maybe your spouse says something to you that rubs you the wrong way. Maybe your boss chews you out for some reason that you feel is completely unjustified.
Maybe you accidentally cut someone off on the road and they decide to tell you how they feel about it by using “sign language,” if you get my drift.
In those moments, anger can rise up and be really hard to deal with, and if we’re not careful, it can get out of control and really cause some damage.
It can damage or even destroy our relationship with the person we’re angry at, it can damage our reputation, and it can even damage us spiritually and emotionally.
In Ephesians 4:26 the Bible says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” It’s not being angry that’s sin, but it’s how we react that can become sin.
For example, when that guy that we accidentally cut off on the road flips us the bird, and we give it right back to him, that’s sin. When someone slanders us behind our back and we slander them right back, that’s sin.
When someone goes off on us verbally and we decide to unleash a verbal assault back at them, that’s sin.
When our spouse gets under our skin, we decide that instead of retaliating we’re actually going to do something nice for them instead, like iron their clothes.
However, we “accidentally” lay the iron down on their favorite shirt and burn it. Yes, you guessed it, that’s sin. Can you say passive aggressive?!
By the way, that’s completely hypothetical. I would know nothing about that. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Instead of allowing our anger to control us, we need to learn to control our anger. How should we respond when we get angry? What should we do to the person who angers us?
Well, the Bible tells us, but I’m warning you, it goes against every instinct we have. In Ephesians 4:31-32 it says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
So, there it is. If we choose the high road of extending kindness and tenderheartedness toward those who anger us, and if we choose to quickly forgive them instead of letting things fester inside of us, we will control our anger instead of allowing it to control us.