Anger & Angry People
Topic: Sunday Message Verse: Matthew 22:35–22:40, Proverbs 12:16, Proverbs 29:11, Proverbs 29:22, Proverbs 22:24–22:25, Proverbs 15:18, James 1:19–1:20, Romans 12:18, Proverbs 19:19, 2 Peter 3:9
Anger and Love
When it comes to anger, our goal as followers of Jesus Christ isn’t perfection, but it is progress, where our anger is increasingly moving away from selfishness and more toward righteousness. Whether it’s us dealing with our anger or with any other life issue, it’s important to put that into the context of our bigger goals as Christians, namely loving God and loving people. "How much is my selfish anger getting in the way of me growing as a loving person and living out the Greatest Commandment?"
Matthew 22:35-40 NIV
35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Characteristics of an Angry Person
There's a difference between people who get angry (that's all of us) versus people who are angry (all the time). For them, it’s more than just a situation, it’s a disposition. The Bible has a lot to say not just about anger, but also about angry people, especially in the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 12:16 NIV
16 Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.
Proverbs 12:11 NIV
11 Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.
Proverbs 29:22 NIV
22 An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.
Proverbs 22:24-25 NIV
24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.
When An Angry Person Engages You #1
Recognize that angry people are threatened people. “The most threatening people are the ones who feel most threatened.” We normally associate being threatened with fear, but a person’s fear can often lead to rage. Angry people lash out at others because they think that someone in some way tried attack something that’s very precious to them. Whether it actually happened or not is secondary. The perceived threat is enough to enrage them.
When An Angry Person Engages You #2
Understand that the object and the intensity of their anger are rarely rational. You may be the target of someone else's anger even though you did nothing wrong. It's the “kick the dog” syndrome, where problems experienced at work turn into anger expressed at home. It’s not your fault, but you're the target. Also with irrational anger, “the punishment usually doesn’t fit the crime.” So even if you might have done something wrong, the fury they rain down on you is far worse than what your offense deserves.
When An Angry Person Engages You #3
Try not to take their anger personally. Just because we're the lightning rod for their anger doesn't mean it's about us. We need to know that because when someone gets angry with us, our first response is often either doubt (which says, “Maybe they’re right—it must be my fault.”) or defensiveness (which says, “I know they’re wrong, and I’m going to prove it to them.”). Either way, who's right or who's wrong isn't the issue, at least not at that moment. So as convincing as they might sound in all their anger, we need to know that doesn't mean it's true.
When An Angry Person Engages You #4
Work hard to listen not react. Even if their anger is irrational and directed at you, you’ve gotta try to defuse the problem, not escalate the conflict. Now's not the time to prove your point. The key to defusing starts with patience and listening.
(1) Listening gives you greater insight into their anger.
(2) Listening gives them a sense of being heard.
(3) Listening also shows you where you might be at fault, and helps you to apologize appropriately.
Proverbs 15:18 NIV
18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
James 1:19-20 NIV
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
When An Angry Person Engages You #5
Do what you can to bring them peace... no less, no more. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus said, “for they will be called children of God.” While we’re not personally responsible for someone else’s anger, we are responsible for anger in our own lives. So if we are going to bring peace to a situation, we first need to make sure we’re dealing with our own anger in a godly and repentant way. From there, we need to do what is possible, as far as it is up to us, to seek peace and resolve conflict with angry people. Some times that means us making the first move, even if we think they have more to apologize for and should come to us.
Romans 12:18 NIV
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
When An Angry Person Engages You #6
Know your limits and when to walk away. While Jesus calls us to love our enemies, there also comes a point with people's on-going stubbornness and lack of receptivity where we finally need to walk away. If we try to rescue people and protect them from the consequences of their own anger, we'll only make things worse even though we think we're trying to make them better. This is especially true when your personal safety is at risk.
Proverbs 19:19 NIV
19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again.
When An Angry Person Engages You #7
Don’t give up on anyone. Keep on praying. Even if we've reached the breaking point with an angry person, we need to remember that there’s not a single person on the face of this planet who’s beyond the reach of God’s love. So if God hasn’t given up on them, then neither should we. In the end, only God can change their heart, so we pray and believe that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead can deliver the angriest of people.
2 Peter 3:9 NIV
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.