How many of you have been angry today?
It’s okay to be honest with yourself. Once? Two or three times? Maybe… more? If you have, I hope you continue to read this.
I’ve been angry before, who hasn’t? In fact, I’ve been more than my fair share of angry. I’ve been so angry that words came out of my mouth before my mind had time to process what they were, what kind of pain they would inflict or damage they would cause. In other words, in my anger I was selfish. My goal in such heated moments was one: win the fight at all costs. Why? Because anger told me that I was always in the right.
I did a lot of that fighting when I was younger. When anger knocked, I opened the door without the slightest idea of what would be waiting on the other side. An annoying person aggravated me, anger came. A friend ditched me? Yeah, you could bet I was boiling. A family member told me I’d never amount to anything… man, those words really had me fired up. There are deeper things, but I’m not ready to share those. It seemed like there was an infinite list that hit my buttons.
So, in a nutshell, everything made me mad. Everything would make me want to fight. I wanted to be angry, but then, at the same time, I didn’t. A part of me knew there was more to life than just the on-edge one I was living, I just couldn’t seem to find it and not a soul seemed to want to help me. The fight, the anger, the outbursts were cries, but I was lost in a world that didn’t even notice I was there.
Then something happened.
When I was eleven, a group called The Power Team (men that body-build for Christ) visited a local theater in my town. At the time, I lived with my mother. No one was much on the church scene in my house. Of course I had heard about God and Jesus, about Heaven and Hell, but that’s as far as that went. When my mother suggested the idea of going, it surprised me.
We went. The theater was packed. People with their families, people alone, church vans and even those obnoxious kids I knew from school. We all walked into the theater, and it wasn’t long after we slipped into our seats that the show began.
For the next hour or so these muscled men ripped phone books in half, smashed bats, lifted logs that must have quadrupled their weights, bent frying pans, busted cans with their bare hands, balloons with nothing but the air in their lungs… I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the image. The best part? The hulk like men did these things all while sharing The Gospel.
The Gospel. That’s where I grew interested.While the crowd roared like they were the most amazing people they had ever seen – some even running to try and catch the pieces of splintered wood and balloon remains as they hit the bottom of the stage – my ears tuned in, my eyes never left the stage. It was like for the first time, someone was finally talking to me and what I was going through. I felt, in a way, like the Grinch on the day his heart grew all those sizes. Somehow, someone had heard my heart crying out in the world and they decided to answer my silent plea to have more than the life I’d been living.
When they called for people to come to the stage, to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, I went without thought. Jesus had been the one to hear me, and he had answered! I would answer Him right back. I wasn’t alone either. It felt as if the whole auditorium had made their way to the small stage as well, no one caring if they bumped into another or stepped on a foot in the midst – something that would have made me angry before – but it didn’t. I was too enraptured by the speaker, to consumed with all the things he was saying.
Saying those words, that well known sinners prayer, was as simple as breathing. Finally, finally, things started to change. They told us to drop our hurts and worries and burdens and whatever else we were dealing with at the Cross, and to leave them. Jesus didn’t want us to carry them any longer, He wanted to exchange them for freedom. For our freedom.
For me it meant the anger.
I walked out of that theater changed, free indeed. I could then see with a clear mind what anger had been doing to those around me and to myself. It was suffocating me. It was holding me back. It was drowning me. And I was letting it. But no longer would I let it chain me. No longer would I be the victim to a deadly killer.
Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us: “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.”
Do not let the devil have a foothold. Anger is a foothold, and a mighty big one. Anger is also a sin people of today tend to overlook. Over the years since the day I accepted Jesus, I have seen that foothold in work. It’s torn my family apart, ruined marriages, and even caused lives to be lost in the fray. It’s a silent killer that not many people talk about. I left it behind, sure, but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t try and break in every once in awhile.
But, friends, we must evict anger and not allow it back. If we let anger inside, even the slightest fragment, it will grow until it can no longer be contained. It will grow until it has nowhere else to go but into another.
When anger shows, meet it with patience. Meet it with prayer, with love. Do not let it destroy your life. Do not let the devil acquire that stronghold. And if you have anger, take it to the Cross. Give Jesus that anger and don’t pick it back up. While you’re there at the bottom of the Cross, forgive yourself and accept His forgiveness. If you haven’t accepted Him, I pray that you do. No matter your mistakes, your past, your pains, hurts, struggles, He is there and He has been waiting for you since before you were ever born.
“For all have fallen short of the glory of God.” –Romans 3:23
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” –Isaiah 1:18
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear,slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” –James 1:19-20
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” –Ephesians 4:31