Love is Not Easily Angered

Title: Love is Not Easily Angered

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: May 27th, 2007

As I’m doing my daily prayer time in the summer I walk through the neighborhood on the sidewalks, and I’m shocked to hear so much anger coming from people who live in the homes here in Jamestown. Almost every time I go out for a walk I pass a house where someone is shouting or screaming or cursing out loud at somebody else. It’s almost an epidemic. I’ve seen people arguing loudly in their house so bad that it comes out through the windows so that you can still hear it a block away. I’ve seen people swearing a blue streak while storming out the front door of their house. I hear people on their cell phones sitting on their front porch just shouting at the other person on the line with anger. I’ve seen people face-to-face angry at each other. All of this, while I’m walking and praying in the neighborhood. There is a lot of anger and meanness in Jamestown; and I’m sure it’s that way all across this nation, and world for that matter. Now why am I talking about this today? Because we are learning about love from 1 Corinthians 13 and we come to the verse where Paul teaches, “Love is not easily-angered.” “Love is not easily-angered.” How does that apply to us today in our lives? One of the characteristics of love is not being easily angered. Do you have this characteristic working in your life? Or are you an easily angered person? Are you short-tempered? Do you fly off the handle easily? If so, you aren’t being very loving, according to the Bible, according to God and His Word. But isn’t that what God’s Word is for, to teach us how to be as opposed to how we are not supposed to be? If we never, ever had any trouble with anger, then God wouldn’t ever have to speak to us about it in His Word. But it must be that God knows that we all struggle with anger in our lives, so He includes teaching about it in the Bible. If you are someone who struggles with anger, you are typical. That’s no excuse, but it is to say that you are not alone in struggling with anger. But God is calling us to be loving people, not just the way we are presently. It’s not enough to say, “I’m just that way.” God wants to take us as we are and make us into what He wants us to be. Today, we’ll be looking at what it means to be a loving person by not being easily angered. There are some rare souls who don’t seem to have a problem with being easily angered. If that’s you, God bless you, although you probably struggle with some other aspect of love. But if you do have a problem with being easily angered, this lesson will help you overcome that problem. We really do owe it to God and we owe it to others to work on our weaknesses, like anger, so that we be a light for God in a increasingly dark world. Let me say three things about the teaching of 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not easily angered.”

First, all anger is not bad. 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not easily-angered.” Notice the verse doesn’t say, “Love is never angry.” It says that love is not easily angered. There are times and places where anger is perfectly justified, in fact, righteous. You can’t read the Old Testament without noticing that God gets angry from time to time. Is God wrong? Is it bad for God to be mad or angry? Of course not. The Bible says, “God is slow to anger but rich in mercy,” Psalm 86:15. It doesn’t say that God is never angry, but that He is slow to anger. It must be then that there is a proper and right place for anger at some point because God at some point reaches the point of righteous, justifiable anger. Ever heard of the wrath of God? That means God is angry. God is angry at sin, evil, wickedness. Read the Old Testament and you’ll find that God gets angry at times, and it’s perfectly ok. It also shows God’s prophets being justifiably angry at times. Remember when Saul disobeyed Samuel the prophet in the Book of 1st Samuel? He got angry with Saul. It was perfectly justifiable because Saul had sinned against God’s command. We find the wrath or anger of God also in the New Testament. What does the Apostle Paul say in Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is being (present tense) revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” And remember Jesus Himself; He wasn’t always a happy camper. Ask the Apostle Peter if Jesus ever got angry. Remember the time when he turned around and said to Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan!” Jesus could get angry, but it was always righteous, justifiable anger. Even the Apostle Paul himself could get angry on occasion — and it wasn’t a sin either, it was righteous indignation. At one point he got so angry with some heretics, some false teachers who had infiltrated the Christian church, that in anger he said, “I wish they would all castrate themselves,” Galatians 5:12. These apostate teachers were teaching that even the Gentile coverts had to become Jews and undergo the Jewish ritual of circumcision, so Paul responds angrily that he wishes these teachers would go even further than circumcision and castrate themselves! So Paul could get angry, and so could the other apostles and leaders in the early church. And they were perfectly justified in their anger at times. What does this teach us? It shows that there are times, there are situations, when anger is justifiable, even the right thing. For example today, it’s right and just to be angry with terrorists who blow up people with bombs. If you don’t get angry, you’ve got a problem. It’s justifiable to get mad at all crime and criminals. If someone threatens you or your family, it’s justifiable to get angry. If someone is dishonest or lying to you, it’s ok to get mad. As a pastor, I get angry with false teachers and immorality within the Christian church. There are all kinds of godly, righteous, justifiable occasions for holy anger. But, we can’t excuse all or most anger as justifiable. One person said, “When I’m angry it’s righteous indignation; when you are angry it’s loosing your temper.” No. We can’t justify all or most of our anger as justifiable; that won’t cut it. God doesn’t buy it. We must own up to and deal with our sinful anger, repent of it, and learn how to live in love.

Second, some anger comes from being angry inside. 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not easily-angered.” Some people are angry people and thus anger comes easily for them in all kinds of situations. In other words, they are like a boiling teakettle just waiting to blow off some steam. It doesn’t take much to set these people off because they are already halfway there before anything happens. You might say that these people carry a chip on their shoulder just waiting for someone to knock it off in order to explode in anger. Maybe you are somebody like this, or maybe you know somebody like this. If so, the problem is internal. The problem is that you are not dealing with your hurts and fears and inner conflicts with God through enough prayer or enough reflection. You aren’t searching your soul enough to try to deal with your inner emotional condition with God. You may need to pray more prayers of forgiveness against people who hurt you. You may need to pray more prayers of confession to God about your own personal sins instead of carrying them around unconfessed. A few weeks back I gave a message about the root of violence in our society after the massacre at Virginia Tech. The teaching came out of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:21-26, where He talks about it’s not enough to refrain from outright murder, but we must not even harbor grudges, resentment, and anger towards others in our heart. But how do we avoid nursing a grudge or holding resentment in our hearts? We daily confess our sins; we daily forgive, as the Lord’s Prayer teaches us, “Forgive our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us,” Matthew 6:12. We deal with these inner struggles so that they don’t just build up inside of us until they reach a boiling point and then explode out into our outer world. A lot of people are angry people because they don’t go to God in prayer and talk to him about all their feelings, and let God work in their lives over these emotions. I just heard the old southern gospel song, “Have a little talk with Jesus,” which goes, “Have a little talk with Jesus, tell Him all about your sorrows.” If people would just have a little talk with Jesus in prayer every day they wouldn’t be as angry all the time inside. Part of the key to being a loving person and not always being so easily angered is in not being an angry person to begin with. If you are a perpetually angry person, you are going to be easily angered, because if you carry a chip on your shoulder almost anything can knock it off. So we’ve got to learn to “have a little talk with Jesus” every day in prayer and deal with our hurts, our disappointments, our sorrows, our anxieties and our frustrations, so we don’t lash out in anger at people in life.

Third, some anger comes from a lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not easily-angered.” The first way to avoid being easily angered is to avoid being an angry person inside; to be at peace within. The second way to avoid being easily-angered is to learn how to be self-controlled. Some anger explodes out from being angry within, but other anger explodes out simply by not being able to hold it in. It’s better to have inner peace because then anger doesn’t find a motive to rise up, but even being a peaceful person there are times when we just have to control ourselves in what we say and do. We can’t always act out or say what we feel. One of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is “self-control,” as listed in Galatians 5. Sometimes it comes down to simply exercising self-control over our tongue and emotions. Can you control your emotions? Sure you can, if you try hard enough. You don’t have to say something in anger, even if you are angry. You don’t have to blow your stack, let your emotions go, vent your full emotional state in public; you have control, if you have a will to. A lot of people are easily angered because they simply don’t put a reign on their emotions like they should. It takes effort, and they just don’t try hard enough to deny themselves the satisfying feeling of getting angry and telling someone off or loosing their cool. It’s like any case of self-control. If you are on a diet, you can say no to that extra piece of chocolate cake. You can walk away from the television set and not watch hour after hour of mindless entertainment, if you want to. It’s the same way with anger a lot of times. People can avoid being easily angered by deciding that they are going to show a little self-control over their raw emotions. Is your problem with anger a lack of self-control? You may say, “But I want to control my anger, but I can’t seem to get a handle on it; before I can hold back it just pops out.” Have you prayed about it? Do you continually pray about it? Every day if need be? “Lord, you know that I’m not good at controlling my anger. I alienate myself from others, and cause hurt and pain, all because I can’t control my temper. Help me Jesus control myself. Help me put a lid on anger.” Keep praying that prayer and keep confessing your anger as sin every time you fail. Until you acknowledge it as sin, you’ll never pray seriously enough to overcome it. If you find that at root, you are an angry person, then you need to pray about that and get that cleared up. But if it’s just a self-control problem, you need to keep praying about it until God starts to work discipline in your life in the area of anger. We must not keep excusing our anger; we must deal with it. Yes, there will be times when we are justifiably angry and even justifiable in showing that anger. But these times will be few and far between. Read the Gospels; read the New Testament. Jesus was, on occasion, visibly angry, but it wasn’t often. Same with the Apostle Paul and the other disciples. So we know that there are times and places where real righteous anger is justifiable, but most anger has nothing to do with holy anger. Most anger is personal and petty anger coming from sin, not righteousness. We’ve got to learn to put a lid on it for love’s sake. With the help of God we can fulfill the command of God to love and not be easily angered.

“Jesus, we confess our anger and unloving behavior. Help us to get rid of our personal and petty anger and to love people instead. Help us to forgive and be patient with people even when they’ve wronged us. Help us to really love like you loved us. We are sorry for all the hurt we’ve caused through sinful anger. Thank you for dying on the cross for these and other sins. We confess and repent of the sin of anger today. We also trust in you Jesus for our forgiveness and salvation. Please work in our lives to make us holy and loving people. In your name we pray, amen.”

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