Anger

I spent most of today at a training related my City Council role. Tomorrow at our Men’s Breakfast at Timberline Church we will have Dr. Jim Diehl as our guest. Dr. Diehl is a former Pastor of the well-known Denver First Church of the Nazarene and a Superintendent for his denomination. He is over 80 and still active in speaking in churches and conferences around the country.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry…And the Lord made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one.” 1 Samuel 11:6-7 NLT

The verse above describes Saul’s first act as a newly anointed King of Israel. Saul is stepping forward to rescue the town of Jabesh-Gilead from the Ammonites by calling the men of Israel to go with him into battle. Since we know the history of Saul, I couldn’t help notice the reference to Saul’s “anger.”

Anger is a normal human emotion. It has been observed that it is not by itself good or bad. It is how we use it and what we do with it. Anger can be a powerful motivator and it can be a destructive force. In the verses above we see the Lord allowed Saul’s anger to show the people that he was serious about the situation that was being faced by their fellow Israelites, he was angry with the enemy of God’s people and they needed to respond.

However, we see Saul’s “sanctified” anger early in his life became his Achilles heel in his later years. We read how Saul responded with anger and jealousy after David killed Goliath and the dancing maidens attributed greater victories to David than Saul.

We see Saul throwing his spear in anger at David trying to kill him. We see Saul cursing his own son Jonathan in anger when he believed that Jonathan was being more loyal to David than him.  It was Saul’s anger that allowed him to hunt David like an animal in an attempt to secure his kingdom.

It is interesting that scripture talks about how an “evil spirit” tormented Saul. I have observed in my years the connection between uncontrolled anger in some individuals and spiritual bondage. Anger in this way is used for punishment, manipulation, and control. Like Saul, it often comes out of a very insecure individual. I was able to see this in my own mother in spite of her strong spiritual commitment.

Psychologist tells us anger is a “secondary” emotion. It arises out of fear, hurt or frustration. Scripture admonishes us to “be angry and sin not.” (Ephesians 4:26) We are reminded that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20 ESV) Anger is one of the “works of the flesh” that Paul says as Christ-followers we are “put off.” “…now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.” (Colossians 3:8 NLT) It is interesting how anger often leads to many of the other sins that Paul warns believers about.

Paul goes on and gives us the direction for our life, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone…Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” (Colossians 3:12,15 NIV)

We can’t do in ourselves or for ourselves what the Lord alone can do in us and for us. The Lord can help us use our anger and keep our anger from controlling us. He can help us recognize the underlying reasons for our anger and deal with the fear, hurt or frustration that is fueling our emotions. And when our anger gets the best of us we can find forgiveness from the Lord and others as we respond in humility.