BLIND SPOTS: ANGER

Genesis 4:2-8

 

Today we’re starting a new six-week series of messages: BLIND SPOTS.

 

When we think about that term, we usually think of it in the context of driving.  Every vehicle has a blind spot.  There is a spot in the road that is difficult to see from the driver’s seat.  So, you have to check your rear-view mirror, your side-view mirrors, and you have to look over your shoulder because every car has some kind of a blind spot.  And blind spots are difficult because you can’t see what you can’t see.  So, you have to make an intentional effort to check your blind spots.

 

Now, if you’ve purchased a new vehicle in recent years, it came with some safety features: the backup camera, the front-end crash warning system, and the blind spot warning system.  There are sensors in the side view mirrors that will alert you when there is a car in your blind spot.  In our SUV a light comes on.  If I have my turn signal on, the light will flash.  If I try to move over into the next lane, a beeping sound will go off.  The warning system is designed to alert me to the presence of another car because blind spots are dangerous.

 

When it comes to navigating the road of life, there are some potential blind spots in our lives.  Specifically in the area of emotions.  Emotional blind spots.  Emotions that just kind of sneak up on you.  They rise up suddenly.  And just like the car in the next lane that you can’t see, some emotions you just don’t see coming until they hit you.  And you end up wondering, where did that anger, that fear, that frustration come from?

 

Researchers have identified 34,000 emotions that we could have!  34,000!  That’s hard to believe!  Sounds way too high!  But you might know or live with someone, and you say 34,000 emotions, that sounds about right.  Maybe a little on the low side.

 

But researchers have also identified 3 primary emotions that are common to all of us: happiness, sadness, and anger.  And in this BLIND SPOTS series, we’re going to look at some common emotions that can be in our blind spots. 

 

Today we are going to look at the emotion of ANGER.  Talk about an emotion that can be in your blind spot, anger is it.  Anger can come out of nowhere.

 

As we begin this message, I want you to hear that anger itself is NOT wrong.  Anger is NOT a sin.  Anger is an emotion.  Even God gets angry.  The Bible talks about the wrath of God.

 

We speak of a righteous anger.  A righteous indignation.  Jesus displayed that in the temple when he drove out the animal traders and money changers.  He was upset, and rightfully so, because they had turned God’s house of prayer into a den of thieves.  The animal traders and money changers were disrespecting God’s house of worship, and they were cheating people financially.  So, Jesus was mad and he did something about it.

 

So, anger is not a sin.  Ephesians 4:26 says:

 

“In your anger do not sin….” -Ephesians 4:26

 

 You are not sinning when you experience the emotion of anger.  But the potential for sin is there.  That’s where the blind spot danger lies when it comes to anger.  Proverbs 29:22 says:

 

“An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” -Proverbs 29:22

 

There are any number of sinful actions that unchecked anger can lead to.  There is quick-tempered behavior.  We all know people who fly off the handle.  They allow angry feelings to quickly get out of control.  A quick-tempered person loses their cool and usually says things and does things that hurt other people.

 

Another sinful act that can come out of anger is vindictive behavior. It’s where you want to hurt those who hurt you.  You want to get even.  But getting even is not our right nor is it our responsibility.  Romans 12:17 & 19 says:

 

“Don’t repay evil for evil…Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.

-Romans 12:17 & 19

 

So, paybacks aren’t supposed to be in a Christian’s vocabulary.  And getting even is not to be a part of the game play on how we deal with people who do us wrong.  You leave that up to God.

 

Violent behavior can come from unchecked anger. Throwing things, slamming things, breaking things, and physical abuse.

 

Verbal assault where we yell, call names, and verbally attack another person is often the result of anger that goes unchecked.

 

And there are some other sinful behaviors that can come out of our anger.  So, you can readily see why we need to check this blind spot in our lives. 

 

And just like our cars come equipped with a warning system to alert us to a car in our blind spots, so the Bible has a warning system to alert us to the emotional blind spots in our lives.

 

1 Corinthians 10 tells us that one of the reasons why we have the Old Testament is to teach us and warn us.  In this series we are going to look at 6 Old Testament characters whose examples can serve as warnings to check the emotional blind spots in our lives.

 

We will be learning from their failures.  And if we can learn the lessons they did not learn, then hopefully it will help us to fail less often.

 

The first Old Testament character is CAIN, the oldest son of Adam and Eve.  Cain’s uncontrolled anger serves as a warning to us that we need to check the anger in our lives.

 

GENESIS 4:2-8

 

This is the first time that the word anger is used in the Bible.  And the Bible does not say that Cain simply got angry.  It says he was VERY angry.  But God gave Cain some warning lights about anger.  These same warning lights can remind us to keep a check on our anger.  Here’s the first one……

 

1.EXPLORE YOUR FEELINGS

 

God asked Cain a question.  Why are you angry?  It is important to note that God doesn’t tell Cain that he shouldn’t be angry.  Instead, he asks Cain, why are you angry?  God wants to help Cain identify why he was angry.

 

This is important.  Because some of us may have never learned to examine our emotions.  Perhaps you grew up in a family or a church where there were basically two kinds of feelings: the feelings you should have and the feelings you shouldn’t have.  Feel this way.  Don’t feel that way.  And if you are feeling the way you shouldn’t feel, start feeling the way you should feel.  Not really helpful.

 

So, we need to explore why we get angry.  We need to identify the source of our anger so we can deal with it and resolve our anger.

 

So, let me ask you.  Why do you get angry?  There are all sorts of things that can arouse the emotion of anger within us.

 

Someone may have offended you or hurt you.  Or, perhaps someone has hurt someone you love.  Or, perhaps there are times you get angry because of an injustice in our world.

 

Or you might be angry because you are afraid.  Fear often comes out sideways as anger.

 

Maybe fatigue sets in and sets off your anger.  You get overwhelmed, you grow tired, and you get angry.  And your anger serves as a warning signal that something is triggering your anger, and you need to deal with it.

 

But sometimes our anger is more personal and hits closer to home, just as it did with Cain.  Why was Cain angry?  Perhaps there were several reasons.  But two stand out.  And those two can cause us to become angry too.

 

The first reason why Cain was angry is because Cain did something wrong.  Both Cain and Abel brought their offerings to God.  Abel brought an animal sacrifice as an offering because he raised livestock.  Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil because he was a farmer.  Both types of offering were acceptable.

The Bible says that Abel brought the fat portions of the firstborn.  Abel brought the first and the best as an offering to God.  But Cain brought some of his fruits. Not the first.  Not the best.  It’s implied that Cain brought God the leftovers.

 

The Bible also says that God looked upon Cain and Abel as well as their offerings.  God looked at their hearts as they gave their offerings.  God does the same with us when we give our tithes and offerings.  Do we give from a pure heart, a grateful heart, a cheerful heart?

 

But there was something about Cain’s heart that was just wrong.  His heart was wrong.  And his offering was wrong.  Cain didn’t do the right thing when it came to his offering.  God told him that if he did what was right, he would have been accepted. 

 

But Cain didn’t do the right thing.  That’s why he was angry.  He was angry at himself.  But he directed his anger at his brother.

 

Maybe it’s your sin that is the source of your anger.  You’re feeling guilty because of what you have done that was wrong.  But you’re too proud to admit it and confess your sin.  So, you’re dealing with all this guilt, and you get angry because of it.  And you take out your anger on another person.

 

Another source of anger that hits close to home is jealousy.  Cain was jealous of his brother Abel.  God looked favorably upon Abel and his offering. Cain was comparing himself to his brother and he’s disappointed that God didn’t look favorably upon him.  He wants to be treated the way his brother is getting treated. 

 

So, he just gets angry with Abel. He grows bitter toward Abel.  Now, Abel has done nothing wrong.  He has not done anything to Cain. But Cain is angry with Abel because he is jealous of his brother.

 

The Bible tells us that jealousy can be the source of anger for us too.  James 4:1-2 says:

 

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You desire but do not have, so you kill.  You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.” -James 4:1-2

You covet what someone else has.  You’re jealous of what someone has.  Your neighbor’s lawn is so well manicured, and it puts your lawn to shame.  So, you get miffed at your neighbor.  He drives up in a nice new car and you’re still making payments on one that is falling apart.  And you’re upset that he’s got a better car than you.  Your co-worker gets a raise, or a promotion and you don’t.  You end up with these negative feelings toward them.

 

Those people have not done anything to you.  But you’re jealous of them and you get angry with them.

 

First, we need to explore our emotions and identify why we are angry.  Until we do, we won’t know why we are angry, and we can’t deal with it. 

 

A second warning light when it comes to anger is this:

 

2. RECOGNIZE THAT UNCONTROLLED ANGER IS DANGEROUS

 

God warned Cain regarding his anger.  God told Cain that sin was crouching at the door.  But Cain didn’t check this blind spot he had when it came to anger.  He didn’t heed God’s warning.  Cain murdered his brother in the first act of violence in the history of mankind.  All because Cain left his anger unchecked and uncontrolled.

 

Uncontrolled anger is dangerous to us.  We get angry.  But if left unchecked, we become angry.  We become angry people.  That’s our emotional lifestyle.  We walk around angry all the time, always upset about everything, always lashing out at people.  That’s not a healthy way for us to live.  Perhaps you know a person or two like that.  It’s not much fun being around them.

 

Uncontrolled anger is dangerous when it comes to the relationships in our lives.

 

Proverbs 15:18 says:

 

“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” – Proverbs 15:18

 

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the 2nd and 3rd Presidents of the United States died on the same day-July 4, 1826.  They died within hours of one another.

 

Adams and Jefferson were close friends.  In 1775 they met at the Continental Congress.  They would later collaborate on the Declaration of Independence.

 

Despite their political differences, they remained close friends until Adams ran for a 2nd term as President and Jefferson ran against him.  Jefferson won the election, but the campaign was so filled with insults and personal attacks, that they became angry with each other.  Adams was so bitter he left town before the inauguration ceremony. 

 

From that point on the two became bitter rivals who refused to speak to each other for the next 12 years.

 

Uncontrolled anger destroys.  It destroys marriages, families, friendships.

 

Don’t make the mistake that Cain made.  Heed this warning light.  Uncontrolled anger comes at a high cost.  Decide that you won’t pay that cost.  It’s just not worth what it will cost you in terms of your marriage, your family, your friendships.

 

A third thing that will help us to check the anger in our lives is to…..

 

3.REALIZE THAT YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR ANGER

 

You’re either going to control your anger or your anger is going to control you. 

 

You might try to excuse or justify your uncontrolled anger.  You might say-“that’s just the way I am.  I get angry.  I yell, I scream, I call names, I put people down.  That’s how I deal with my anger.  That’s how I express my anger.  That’s just the way I am wired.”

 

But that’s not Biblical.  God told Cain he must rule over the sin that his anger was going to bring about.  He was telling Cain that he could control his anger. 

 

Let’s look at these verses of Scripture:

 

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” -Proverbs 29:11

 

“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

-Ecclesiastes 7:9

 

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” -James 1:19-20

 

All those verses are saying the same thing.  You can control your anger.

 

I read the story about a man who took his girlfriend to a high school basketball game.  He got so caught up in the emotion of the game and he got really upset.  He shouted things at the players on the other team and at the referees.  After the game was over, his girlfriend looked him in the eye and said: “If you ever behave like that again, we’re through.”  Guess what?  He never behaved like that again.  He controlled his anger because of his love for her.

 

You can control your anger.  And one of the things you can do to control your anger is to allow yourself a cooling off period when you become angry.

 

Don’t respond to someone when you are angry with them.  If I could offer a word of advice along this line.  Do not call someone, or text them, or rip off an e-mail to them while you are angry at them.  You’ll regret it later. 

 

Time can be your friend when it comes to controlling your anger.  Give yourself some time to calm down.  When you do, you will end up thinking more clearly about the situation and you will respond more appropriately to the person.

 

Now, what else can you do to check your anger and keep your anger in check?

 

4. RESOLVE YOUR ANGER AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE

 

I think that was basically what God was trying to get across to Cain.  Deal with your anger quickly because sin is crouching at the door.  But Cain didn’t heed the warning God gave him and he killed his brother. 

 

Going back to Ephesians 4, verses 26 & 27 says:

 

“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.” – Ephesians 4:26-27

 

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.  Resolve your anger as soon as possible.  If you don’t, you’re going to give the devil a foothold in your life.  You’re going to let him occupy some space in your life and he will start wreaking havoc with your life and the relationships in your life.

 

So, in order to resolve your anger, circle back around to our first point.  Ask yourself, why am I angry?  Once you identify the source of your anger, you can deal with it.

 

Am I angry because I haven’t dealt with some sin in my life?  If so, be humble enough to confess it to God, and repent of it.  Let God forgive you and relieve you of your guilt.  If you resolve the sin problem in your life, you’ll resolve the anger that is associated with it.

 

And if your anger has caused you to sin against someone else, then be humble enough to go apologize to that person and ask for their forgiveness.

 

Am I angry because I am jealous of someone else and what they have?  Then look to God to satisfy you and learn to be content with what you have and where you are in life.  The abundant life that Jesus came to give us has absolutely nothing to do with the things we get jealous over.

 

Am I angry because someone has hurt me?  Ephesians 4:31 says:

 

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” – Ephesians 4:31

 

There are some pretty destructive emotions and behaviors listed there.  We are told to get rid of our anger.  The only way to do that is what Paul says next in verse 32:

 

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32

 

One more thing about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  They repaired their relationship.  The friends, turned bitter rivals, became close friends again through the intervention of one of Jefferson’s neighbors.  They began to write letters to one another again.  They remained friends for the remaining 15 years they lived up until the day they both died, July 4, 1826.

 

If you are angry with someone, don’t let it take 12 years for you to forgive them.  Forgive quickly.  Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.

 

PRAYER

 

In Ephesians 2 Paul wrote about our lives before we came to Christ.  We deserved God’s wrath.  But God wanted to forgive us.  So, because of his great love and his rich mercy, he made us alive with Christ.  God saved us by his grace.

 

This morning, if you are a Christian, I invite you to celebrate God’s love, mercy, and grace by singing our commitment hymn.

 

If you aren’t a Christian, but you want God to forgive you, I invite you to come forward and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior as we sing.

Contact Us

Lebanon Christian Church

409 Yorktown Road

 

Newport News (Lee Hall), VA 23603

 

Phone: 757 887-5536

 

  

CCS #8003



 

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