“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
I was taking some notes the other day on my tablet during a sermon. I was enjoying the lesson that was being presented and was trying to copy and paste all of the scripture references as the sermon went on. Near the end of the talk I accidentally hit the wrong button on my screen and lost everything! I was frustrated about this because I had compiled quite a bit of information and now it was all gone.
Interestingly enough, the sermon was about anger. The speaker was pointing out that anger, in most cases, brings out the worst in us and can cause us to sin. He talked about how two good friends might get in an argument and one person, in anger, might make a hurtful remark towards the other person. Although that person may forgive the offender, the remark will probably never be forgotten and could seriously damage or even destroy the friendship. I remember this sermon well because it related exactly to my situation as I was taking notes. Everything had been going along great and then I made that one mistake, hitting the wrong button, and all of a sudden everything was lost.
Things will come up in our lives that make us angry and quite often it will involve other people. Anger, by itself is not a sin and it can actually be used for good (see John 2) but it can be a dangerous emotion because we often lose our self control. Unfortunately, because we are most comfortable with our friends and family, we often let anger show more easily around those we love. Another potential problem with anger is that it is often sparked when the things most important to us are threatened. Because we care so deeply about our faith we can get angry with those who don’t believe when we try to share the gospel. I believe this is why there is so much written in the bible about controlling our anger. Take 1 Peter 3:15 for instance: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” We must be willing to show gentleness and respect to those who need to hear the truth. If non-Christians feel threatened by us, they probably won’t accept what we have to say.
Another thing to keep in mind when anger boils up inside us is to resist the urge to retaliate. Solomon, in his wisdom wrote, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1). We will remain in control of ourselves and the situation if we choose a gentle and loving response instead of escalating things with more hurtful words.
This advice is easy to understand but hard to put into practice. It may seem easy when we are calm but when anger strikes it will be much harder however, we must strive to control our anger whenever possible. What a tragedy it would be to damage a Christian friendship over a word spoken in anger or to miss an opportunity to share the gospel because we lost control of our temper. It’s my prayer that we all remain committed to studying passages like these from the Word so that when trials come our way we can weather the storm with His help.
Written by Myles MacMillan, Minister, Central Church of Christ