Destroying the Root of Anger

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

Yesterday on Twitter, I posted this: Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and that left undealt with often leads to sickness, disease & deception. The deception being that you can go on with life and with God as though everything was okay. Unforgiveness is never okay with God. Jesus said, “Forgive one another as I have you” 

I received very good feedback from that tweet, people saying that it hit them in a profound way and they thanked me for this truth. I found myself thinking more about it when suddenly the Lord spoke to me. He said, Angry people are steeped in unforgiveness. They are often mad at the world and sometimes Me. You cannot resolve anger issues until you learn to forgive. 

You would think that I’d be writing on forgiveness today. I might do that later this week, but, today I want to simply say that frequent anger is a sign there is unforgiveness going on. I would suggest that if you do get angry even occasionally and in any level of inappropriateness, you need to know it’s rooted in unforgiveness. That must be dealt with! It won’t until you figure out why you are so mad or angry, and understand that it affects you and those around you in so many more ways that you could imagine. So today I’ll talk about anger, and then later I’ll get to forgiveness.

Anger is a valid emotion. There are things that validly make us angry but, anger has a boundary and a line that isn’t to be crossed. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV, “In your anger do not sin…” These verses are instructional and insightful saying “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold…” God clearly teaches us that anger in itself is not sin, but that it can be carried to the point of sin, and when that happens, it gives “…the devil a foothold.” Those words literally means giving the devil occupancya place to dwell.

For some people, their anger not only crosses the line of inappropriateness resulting in sin, but they practically invite the devil to sit down at their table and sign a long-term lease to live with them. How does that happen? Most anger issues are rooted in what is perceived as a repeated offense and that is a product of unforgiveness and not working through issues. When this happens, anger spreads like a cancer and pretty soon, petty and unimportant grievances are treated with anger looking more like wrath.

Anger unrestrained will lead to all kinds of hurtful outbursts that will cause pain and regret. People that sin in their anger seldom stay on the issue they are angry over. They often draw past offenses and hurts to the scene. (Can you see the bitterness in the root of unforgiveness?) Their angry words causes anger to swell. That can become the early stage of rage which always leads to irrational thinking. Eruption is now brewing below the surface. Unbridled anger or rage leads to irrational thoughts that then lead to thoughts of every kind of evil. James 3:16 KJV, says it like this, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

As words begin to erupt from this anger, they begin to flow and the devil now has a foothold. The words will be destructive and people become collateral damaged. In many cases, those words do long-term damage that is difficult for people to recover from. Now they slip into unforgiveness. That in turn, leads to great and deeply rooted bitterness.

God’s wisdom tells us the danger in letting our anger ever cross the boundaries of inappropriateness.

Proverbs 27:4 NIV says, “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming…”

Proverbs 14:17 NIV says, “A quick-tempered man does foolish things….”

Proverbs 21:19 KJV “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

Proverbs 29:22 NIV “An angry man stirs up dissension (strife), and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.”

Proverbs 22:24 NIV reveals that anger can affect others, even becoming like an infectious disease. It says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, and do not associate with one easily angered.”

Proverbs 25:23 says, “As the north wind brings rain: so does an angry countenance bring a backbiting tongue.” The word angry here literally means foam at the mouth and is referring to the evil look of unbridled anger. The term “backbiting tongue” refers to the abundance of evil words spoken that absolutely cover their target with a blanket of ill spoken and hurtful words.

If you are a person who frequently gets angry, you—not those around you are the problem. You are hurting from getting caught in unforgiveness and never learning how to work out of your anger. It will make you selfish and everything in life about you and those violating you. Your demand for perfection is born out of a need to personally control all of life around you because your tired of getting hurt—and that is born out of unforgiveness. It is sinful and wrong. You need to switch your focus from the imperfections of others, to getting your own attitude right. People are not perfect and you have a view of yourself that is far too high. You are too forgiving of your own faults and too critical of others. You need to take on God’s temperament.

Psalms 103:8 reveals, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” God isn’t expecting people to meet His perfection. He had Jesus come and do that. Jesus was the only one who could. God is driven by love. That love started with Jesus living without sin and dying to bear the punishment of ours. Love began with God’s forgiveness, not fault-finding. That’s what lays the ground work of forgiveness even though we know people are imperfect and highly flawed. We look to forgive and love them like God loves us, despite all our faults.

God has chosen to see the best in His children, not the worst. He dwells on what we can become, and not simply what we are at the moment. He dwells on building us up and not tearing us down. And this is where the practice of forgiveness obliterates the anger.  Spend some time thinking about this. More tomorrow.

Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt

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