ANGER

Note: The "ANGER ICEBERG" in graphical form is displayed at the bottom of this page

Anger in itself is not sinful or wrong.  However, sin is committed if we, in our anger, violate another person by acting or speaking in a way that is hostile or aggressive and then harden our hearts against the damage done to our brother or sister.  It also grieves our Heavenly Father.   

Scriptural examples of appropriate anger include:

·        Jesus (John 2:13-17). Trading was permitted in the courtyard area of the Temple but strictly forbidden in the Holy Place.  This offended against God (sin).   Jesus removed the offending items (but note no harm to any person mentioned) and reclaimed God’s Holy Place.   

·        Jacob (Gen 31:36) served Laban for many years and was tricked several times during that period.   When Laban accused Jacob of stealing Jacob was angry but defending himself with the facts and without aggression.

·        Nehemiah (Neh 5:6) was angry about injustice/unfair treatment of slaves (who were fellow Jews forced into poverty in a time of famine, compounded by lenders charging usury – interest – when they were forbidden by law).  He first “pondered” then presented the case factually presented the case at a meeting of the officials.

·        Other Scriptures to consider: Exod 11:8, Exod 4:14, Gen 18-19

Scriptural examples of anger that led to sin include:

·        Cain (Gen 4) disobeyed God’s instruction about sacrifice, was then jealous of Abel (whose sacrifice was accepted) and committed sin by hating him and then murdering him

·        Ahab (1 Kings 21) went to his palace “sullen and angry” (v4) when he couldn’t get the vineyard of Naboth he wanted.   He “sulked” then plotted a scheme of lies against Naboth, which resulted in his stoning to death.

·        Adam and Eve (Gen 3) both blamed others (“scapegoating”) rather than taking responsibility for their own sin.  Eve blamed the serpent for deceiving her.  Adam blamed Eve, and God for providing Eve to him.

·        Peter (Matt 16:21-28) became angry, took Jesus aside and rebuked him when he realized Jesus was to die.   His understanding and his actions were not in accord with God’s Will.

·        Other Scriptures to consider: 2 Kings 9:30-37, 1 Sam 18 and 1 Sam 19 10-15, Gen 27:41, Jonah 4         TOP

BITTERNESS, RESENTMENT, HATE
Health research is increasingly finding evidence that links health outcomes to attitude.   Cardiovascular disease, cancer, ulcers, psoriasis, arthritis, diabetes (to name a few) have all been linked to “personality types” in which attitudinal stances have been explored.  Emotional factors have been reported to play a role in the onset and maintenance of these conditions. 

Our Heavenly Father has instructed us, through Scripture in how to maintain right attitudes.  If we can hold the right attitudes, we may also experience the blessing that the Israelites were promised if they could obey His statutes, He would put “none of these diseases” upon them.

Put away bitterness – Eph 4:31
Bitterness belongs to a sinful nature – Gal 5:15
Don’t let bitterness grow or take root – Heb 12:15
Stop biting and devouring each other – Gal 5:15
Hatred is forbidden – Lev 19:17
Hatred is darkness to one who gives into it – 1 John 2:9-11
Maliciousness is deceitful – Prov 26:24-26
Hatred is murder – 1 John 3:11-20

Joseph’s brothers gave into their resentment, which grew to bitterness and jealousy and became murder in their heart – Gen 37

Cain too allowed the process to become murder – Gen 4:3-8

BLAME SHIFTING
Genesis 3:12-13 is the first scriptural recording of shifting the blame and humankind has not changed.  If we catch ourselves making excuses about our behaviour or attitudes, we may be trying to shift the blame.  This would indicate an unwillingness to be responsible about the choices we make. 

Our ability to blame applies to our Heavenly Father for Proverbs 19:3 says that when a man’s own folly ruins his life, his heart rages against the Lord. 

Christ too drew our attention to the process of how we can shift the blame.  Matthew 7:1-5 talks about our ability of trying to remove the speck from our brother’s eye, when we are blinded by the log in our own. 

1 Corinthians 11:31 exhorts us to examine ourselves truly so that we are not judged.  Indeed the whole of that chapter is one where we are encouraged to be responsible about our choices, before the Lord.

When we feel like shifting the blame and are reluctant to “own up” to our part in things, remember what the Psalmist says in Psalm 138 in verse 3:  “On the day I called, thou didst answer me, MY STRENGTH OF SOUL, THOU DIDST INCREASE”.  Our Father is able to help us be strong enough to face what we have to face.                            TOP

CHANGE
A true follower of Christ can change for our Heavenly Father makes it possible through a spiritual renewal.  Change can be a difficult process, however there are many supports that our Father offers.  The process of change needs to be in consultation with our Heavenly Father. 

2nd Cor. 5:17 gives us hope. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come”.  Think on this, that Christ is offering us a new beginning. 

Titus 3:4-6 “When the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”  Can we submit to this kindness and be grateful for it?

Phil. 2:12-13.  With our Father we work together to overcome the things that would separate us from Him.  “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”

COMFORT
Never underestimate the power of the Scriptures to comfort and uplift, especially when life is difficult.  Psalm 23 gives a beautiful description of care, particularly when we are vulnerable and feel like giving up.   

Another lovely word picture is depicted in Deut 32:10-12, where God’s care of Israel is likened to an eagle hovering over its young, caring and protecting them.

Whilst God does care for us, He asks us to trust in Him.  Psalm 91:1-2 states, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”.  Trusting God, when we feel vulnerable is an act of faith.  Nevertheless, Romans 8:28 asks us to put it into perspective and recognise that “all things work together for good for those that love the Lord”

Again in Romans in 5:3-5 Paul exhorts us “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us”.   This means that our suffering may be God given, to shape our character, to help us grow in Grace and Favour.  Can we take comfort from that.        TOP

DEPRESSION
Depression is the 4th most debilitating mental health condition in the world today.  By 2020 it will be the 2nd most debilitating condition*.  What does Scripture say about depression?  Scripture seems to link depression to our guilt about an unresolved issue.  In Gen 4:6-7 the Lord says to Cain “Why are you angry?  Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?”  The Lord has much more to say to Cain, especially about sin, and its worth reading and reflecting on this passage. In Psalm 32:3-4 David too was very depressed until he confessed his sin of adultery.  The book of Jonah outlines Jonah’s anger and depression, towards God and Jonah’s attempts to emotionally blackmail the Lord.  It is interesting to note and reflect on God’s response to Jonah, at all stages of Jonah’s behaviour.

So what is the way out of depression?  Scripture gives the answers.  God asks us to confess our sins and seek His forgiveness
Ps 32:1-2, 51:1-19 and to put our hope in Him Ps 42:5-6.  This process would include prayer, reflecting on the Grace extended to us, seeking the Lords help in changing our attitude (if we are bitter,  resentful or have negative thoughts) and rejoicing in the Hope before us.

EXAMPLE (GOOD OR BAD)
One of the things that is incumbent on us, as brethren and sisters of Christ is to be a Christlike example to one another, (1 Cor. 11:1) to our children (Matt. 18:6) and to our communities (2 Thess. 3:7-8).  We are encouraged to be an example from our youth (1 Tim. 4:12) and to set an example in “speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity”.  In our example we are to be willing and eager to serve and not to lord it over others (1 Peter 5: 2-4).  We are also exhorted (Romans 14:13)  that in our example, we are not to put a stumbling block in another person’s way.  Most importantly our example is before our Heavenly Father and it is He who understands the intents of our hearts.  Proverbs 16:2 states that “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord”.

FEAR
One of the most debilitating emotions is fear.  It can rob us of our energy, motivation and care.  When fear is present, our interactions are tainted by it and our full potential cannot be realised.  Part of us remains shut down by it.  Fear is an interesting process and Scripture tells us that our fear has to do with punishment (1 John 4:18).   What is the punishment that we are fearful of?  Do we have to look over our shoulder at past events that might catch up with us?  Are we fearful of one another and the condemning judgments that we may make?  Are we fearful of always doing the right thing?  Do our own thoughts alarm us?  Romans 8:15 instructs us that we should not be a slave to fear, but that as sons we can cry “Abba Father”.  Trust in the Living God can cast out our fear as we need not be afraid if we believe that God is our helper (Heb 13:5-6) and (Psalm 118:6-7).  Again 1 John 4:18 states that “perfect love drives out fear”.  That perfect love is manifest in the Lord Jesus Christ and if we can learn to talk to him about our fears he has said that he will help us.    After all God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7).        
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                FORGIVENESS

“He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, and the forgiveness of sins” Col 1:13-14
We talk about forgiveness a lot.  We understand, or say we do, what it is supposed to mean, and we can talk about the technicalities of forgiveness and what we are supposed to do.  But what is the experience of forgiveness? And more importantly, can we receive forgiveness?  What does it mean to accept God’s forgiveness?  Do we believe that we are forgiven, or do we live in self-condemning ways?  Christ died for the whole world and anyone who wishes to come to the Father can enter the process of salvation, through the living water.  To enter that process we need to repent, and Proverbs 28:13 says that “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them, will obtain mercy”.  So is it possible that accepting God’s forgiveness begins with letting the light of the Lord search our inward parts to help us understand what we need to be forgiven for.  To confess to our Father about the things that separate us from Him and to ask His mercy and seek His help in overcoming those things, to wrestle with them in our inward being in an effort to forsake them.  To allow the Living God to transform us “by the renewal of (y)our mind” Romans 12: 2. 

Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation for those in Christ.  Further on we are assured that to “set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” v 6.  So a sense of life and of peace is part of the experience of forgiveness.  We are also assured that if we remain in the Spirit we will also experience joy and hope, Romans 15:13.

The Psalms are filled with the experiences of people who accept forgiveness and their joy pours out in praise.  However Psalm 131: 2 has the most beautiful description of the experience of forgiveness (and peace, life, joy and hope) when it says “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul”

                 FORGIVENESS (2)
“He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, and the forgiveness of sins” Col. 1:13-14.

We talk about forgiveness a lot.  We understand, or say we do, what it is supposed to mean, and we can talk about the technicalities of forgiveness and what we are supposed to do.  But what is the experience of forgiveness?  And more importantly, can we receive forgiveness?  What does it mean to accept God’s forgiveness?  Do we believe that we are forgiven, or do we live in self-condemning ways?  Christ died for the whole world and anyone who wishes to come to the Father can enter the process of salvation, through the living water.  To enter that process we need to repent and Proverbs 28:13 says that “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them, will obtain mercy”.  So is it possible that forgiveness is letting the light of the Lord search our inward parts to help us understand what we need to be forgiven for.  To confess to our Father about the things that separate us from Him and to ask His mercy and seek His help in overcoming those things, to wrestle with them in our inward being in an effort to forsake them.  To allow the Living God to transform us “by the renewal of (y)our mind”.  Romans 12:2.  Romans 8:1 tells us there is no condemnation for those in Christ.  Further on we are assured that to “set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” v 6.  So a sense of life and of peace is part of the experience of forgiveness.  We are also assured that if we remain in the Spirit we will also experience joy and hope. Romans 15:13

The Psalms are filled with the experiences of people who accept forgiveness and their joy pours out in praise.  However Psalm 131:2 has a most beautiful description of the experience of peace, life, joy and hope when it says “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul”.     TOP

                FRIENDSHIPS
As our Heavenly Father works with us to create a more spiritually minded community, we need to be aware of who we are walking with, as we proceed to the Kingdom of God.  We are made to respond to and be influenced by many things, and in our day to day lives, the people we expose ourselves too can have a significant impact.  Proverbs 12:20 says that “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm”.  Although harm can come in various forms such as physical, emotional and financial, the greatest harm we can do to ourselves is spiritually.  Scripture encourages us to choose wisely and to not misunderstand the impact of our choices.  1 Cor. 15:13 says not to be misled for “Bad company corrupts good character”.  Right friendships are important as a true friend will not only love and support us, but will also correct us or rebuke us when it is needed.  Proverbs 27:6 says that “the kisses of an enemy are profuse but faithful are the wounds of a friend”.  Amongst other things friendships are a source of love, companionship, instruction, comfort and feedback.  Would that we could call our dear Saviour a friend and he likewise call us his friend. 

                      GIVING
Given that Christmas is just around the corner, its worth thinking about this topic.  Our Heavenly Father has given us a wonderful gift, the Lord Jesus Christ.  As he gave of His Grace, we, as His children try to reflect that same Grace towards others.  2 Cor. 9:6-7 tells us that we reap according to what we sow.  We need to generously give, of ourselves, our resources, our time, our love, our patience, in fact of all the talents that our Father has given us.  In this way we not only reflect our Father, but we also begin to develop in ourselves the spiritual qualities He is pleased with.  This is also reflected in Proverbs 22:9.  We are to be kind and merciful to the needy and most importantly to not grow weary in our giving Gal. 6:9-10.  It is relatively easy to give to our loved ones, a more difficult giving is to be kind to our enemies.  God asks us to follow His example Luke 6:27-28.  Giving is an action, so we are expected act, in fact 1 John 3:16-18 is forthright and states that unless we can show love in this way, we do not reflect the love of God.

                            HOPE
Hope is akin to faith and trust and it is what we bring, as followers of the Living God.  He brings steadfast love and righteousness Psalm 85: 10 and asks us to develop our faith, hope and trust in Him.  Hebrews 6: 19-20 Hebrews 6: 19-20 states that hope is an anchor of the soul and by it we are sustained in Him.  Hope is not something easily found and tends to begin in suffering Romans 5:3-5.  Indeed we are encouraged to rejoice in suffering, as it will produce hope.  1 Thess 1:3 contains the same message.  How do we find hope through suffering?  Through patient endurance (with prayer), which builds character (through prayer).  Working patiently with our Father as He shapes us as living stones.  Hope is the act of submission that He has our best interests at heart throughout all our lives. 

               IMITATING JESUS
We are all called to become Christ-like, but what does that look like?  Eph. 5:1-2 tell us that we need to imitate God as beloved children and Exodus 35: 6-7 lists the qualities of our Father that we can aspire to.  From a practical sense Col. 3:9-10 says that we must not lie to each other.  Lying can harden our hearts, is the deceitfulness of sin.  Humility is another Christ-like quality we can practice as in John 13:12-15 Jesus demonstrates an act of humility by washing the feet of his disciples.  Matthew 16:24 tells us to deny ourselves and daily take up our cross.  Each of us has a different cross.  And our struggle may be emotional, physical or spiritual.  What do you struggle with on a daily basis?  Can you make your struggle a holy process, as Christ did?  These are just some of the ways that we can imitate Jesus and reflect the glory of the living God.  Phil. 2:3-8 also lists a lot of these qualities.   
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         LOVING AND SERVING OTHERS

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 outlines what love looks like.  Love is an action, rather than an emotion and our lord spoke very clearly about what it means to those who wish to follow in his footsteps.   Galatians 5:13-15 reiterates what our Lord spoke about love, that we must love others as we love ourselves.  Do we use our freedom in Christ to indulge ourselves in ways that are destructive of our spiritual walk, or are we always looking for ways of enhancing our spiritual life?  This is love and if we can do this for ourselves, then we are more able to do it for others Matt. 7:12.  Phil.2:3-5 reinforces this idea of looking not only to our own interests but the interests of other. When we honour our brethren and sisters we are not expected to dishonour ourselves but rather, in love, to serve them utilizing the gifts we have been given by our Heavenly Father 1 Peter 4:9-10.  In this we glorify the Father in that we utilize the gifts He has given us and offer an opportunity for others to thank Him for His goodness towards them Matt 25:35-36.

           LUST AND EVIL DESIRES

The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life is the distillation of sin.  It is a handy way of bracketing what sin looks like.  However the reality of our daily struggles with sin is often not so easily categorised.  The whispering of the serpent is a much more personal matter and the sin we struggle with is exactly what is needed to test our faith.  Do we love and believe our Father enough to talk to Him about our struggle with our secret desires, to hold fast to Him Josh. 22:5.  Or do we hug these desires to ourselves, believing no one knows, therefore it doesn’t matter Rom. 8:5-8.  Our Father knows and if we don’t turn to Him, we cannot please Him.  2 Cor. 7:1 asks us to purify ourselves from all that contaminates us and we can do that in Christ.  Christ takes away our reproach before the Living God, so that we can approach Him to talk about those things we struggle with that separate us from Him.  Sometimes we can feel so unworthy (because of our sin) and are reluctant to pray however Rom. 13:14 instructs us to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ so that in the spirit of Jesus Christ we can overcome the sinful nature Gal. 5:16

                   OBEDIENCE

If we love God, we will obey him.  It’s as simple and as difficult as that John 14:15.  We are also told that to obey is better than sacrifice 1 Sam. 15: 22-23.  However if we choose to disobey, a sacrifice is often required of us.  When Adam and Eve disobeyed, they had to sacrifice all the benefits of Eden.  When Sampson’s lust of the eye caused him to disobey, he sacrificed the sight of both his eyes.  When King David’s lust of the flesh caused him to disobey, he sacrificed the life of four of his sons.  When we disobey, the sacrifice required is often not what we would have wanted to give up, the above examples testify to that.  Proverbs 13:13 reinforces the idea that if we disobey, there is a consequence.  On the other hand, if we obey, there is reward in that.  We are blest Luke 11:28, we live in peace, Psalm 1, we experience fellowship and remain in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ John 15:10-17.   There is however a far greater reason to obey; it pleases our Father.  When we obey, we worship Him.  Psalm 69:30-31 “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.  This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.”    TOP

               OVERCOMING EVIL
This is something that we all struggle with at times.  When we believe another has wronged us, especially a brother or sister, it can be very difficult to overcome the inner tensions that can be created while the issue remains unresolved.  Our Heavenly Father outlines an excellent process to help us resolve our differences.  Matthew 18:15 asks us to first approach the person that we believe has sinned against us.  If we are able to do that, in a spirit of unity (and not one of blame and condemnation), then we may be heard and the matter can end there.  However, if the matter is not settled, the next step Matthew 18:16 is to take one or two others with you and approach the brother or sister again so that both parties are able to talk in front of independent and unbiased witnesses.  Again, this should be done prayerfully and in the spirit of unity.  Should the matter remain a contentious issue the next step Matthew 18:17 says that you can take it a step further and tell the matter to the ecclesia.  This of course is a serious step and we must question our conscience here.  Do we want vengeance, are we after retribution or do we have the well being of the wrongdoer at heart.  This is where we wrestle with overcoming our own evil intentions.
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