Mad Week: Angry God?

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145:8)

For the next week, we’re going to have an anger problem. Okay, we always have an anger problem. For the next week, we’re going to try to see our anger for what it mostly is—a real problem that God can really help us with.

mad_350But wait just a minute! Isn’t God angry a lot? Isn’t the Bible full of verses that talk about His wrath and vengeance and anger, especially in the Old Testament? Well, yes and no. The Bible does talk about God’s anger and justice, but it also talks about His patience, mercy, and forgiveness.

In fact, today’s verse makes it clear that God’s character is built on the fact that He does not get angry easily. What He is known for is not flying off the handle or being hot-headed. He sometimes put His justified anger on hold for whole lifetimes before expressing it against those who had rejected His loving direction.

What we’re hoping for as his kids this week is to look more and more like Him in controlling our anger, slowing it down, and not letting our selfish anger drive our lives.

Think: How often do you think of God as being angry? How often do you hear others describe Him that way? How long do you think we would last if God was not always in control of His anger?

Pray: Thank God that He is rich in love, grace, and compassion – and slow to anger.

Do: Notice this week who in your life tends to be quick to anger and who seems better at slowing it down.

Mad Week: Angry Friends

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Proverbs 22:24-25)

The moment I knew the huge man sitting in front of me at the movie theater was “hot tempered” was when someone asked him to be quiet and all of his friends got up and moved away from him. They knew what was coming next. Short version: He left with the cops.

mad_350Friends of explosively angry people often lose. Either they get caught in the crossfire between him and his latest blowup – or they become the target of his wrath themselves. Today’s verse mentions the third trap; mad guys’s friends learn to be angry people, too.

You can’t always avoid angry people – especially those in your family – but wisdom warns us not to get into new friendships with obviously hot-tempered people. Give them grace and show God’s love, but build some distance; guard your heart; let them answer to God, above all.

Think: How many of your friends would you say are angry people? Has someone else’s quick anger ever gotten you in trouble? Do you think it’s wrong to limit a friendship because the other person gets angry too quickly and easily?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to be easily angered or hot tempered. Ask him for wisdom about how deeply to invest in ongoing friendships with angry people.

Do: On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most “hot tempered,” how would you rate your quickness to get angry? Write that number down. Then write down the average anger number for your closest group of friends.

Mad Week: Letting Anger Fly

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

Everyone gets angry. Period. We just do. It’s human, and we’ll learn this week that to feel angry in and of itself is NOT a sin. The question is, “You’re angry. Now what?”

mad_350The fool answers that question by fully expressing his or her anger as loudly, violently, and hurtfully as possible. To give “full vent” to something means not to hold anything back. It means to fire all of the thrusters, open all of the sails, unleash all of the bombs at once. Swear. Throw things. Spit. Hit maybe.

Wise people feel that same angry emotion and say, “Stop. Hold. Wait.” Sometimes it is wise to express some of our anger in a controlled, sinless, even loving manner. But it’s never wise to just crank the volume to 11 and let our rage fly. Never. It doesn’t help us, and it doesn’t help anyone else.

Think: Can you remember any moments in which you have given “full vent” to your anger? What was the outcome of that? Would you agree now that it was foolish? What might have been a wiser response in that moment?

Pray: Ask God to give you the courage and self-control to slow your anger down and only express it in ways that are not sinful or hurtful to others.

Do: Notice this week how people in your life respond when they feel angry. Who gives “full vent” to anger and who seems to be keeping it under control? Think about asking the controlled ones how they do that.

Mad Week: Seek and Destroy

“An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” (Proverbs 29:22)

Here’s another problem with anger: When we’re angry, we’re less likely to want other people to be happy. An anger problem is never a personal problem. It’s a problem for everyone in the angry fellow’s circle of influence.

mad_350Today’s proverb says that when you’ve got a good rage going, you go into seek-and-destroy mode. Every person you talk to or talk about is on the menu for yelling at, dismissing, mocking, or worse. You “stir up dissension” by bringing up anything that might make for a good fight between you or others.

Conflict might be one reason people get angry, but angry people also love conflict. It’s a never-ending cycle: “I’m angry; let’s have a conflict.” “Oh, this is a conflict; now I’m angry.”

We’ve got to find the anger emergency brake to stop that vicious cycle before it destroys friendships, months, reputations. More on how to bail out of anger in the next few days.

Think: Have you ever seen a relationship ended over one person’s anger? Have you seen angry people break up whole groups? How can an angry person break out of the cycle of conflict and rage?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to be an angry person and to know how to break out of anger when you feel it starting to take over.

Do: Make a quick list of a few people in your life who are known for being “angry people.” Notice how that has impacted their relationships.

Mad Week: Don’t Let the Sun Set

” ‘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)

Okay, we get it. Although anger is not a sin by itself, it makes it a whole lot easier to sin. After all, add a “d” to “anger” and you get “look out!” But how are we supposed to let it go before the day ends? How are we supposed to stop the sun from setting?

mad_350First, you’ve got to believe it’s possible, or Paul wouldn’t tell us to do it. With God’s help, you absolutely do have the power to stop being angry for today, at the very least.

Paul quotes here from Psalm 4:4, where David says we should go lie down, think hard, and shut up to keep out of sin until we can ditch the anger. That’s good wisdom.

Notice also that anger pushes you to the front lines of spiritual battle. Anger nurtured somehow gives Satan a place to stand in our heads. Anger protected and unreleased gives him access to our hearts.

We’ve got to let it go.

Think: On a scale from 1 to 10, how hard is it for you to stop feeling angry once it hits? What could you do to make it less likely that you will sin when you’re feeling angry?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to sin when you’re angry and to learn to let go of your anger quickly. Ask Him to protect you from the devil’s attempts to use your anger against you.

Do: Read and think about memorizing Psalm 4:4.

Mad Week: I’m Not Angry!

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

“I’m not angry; I’m just irritated.” “I’m not mad; I’m just protecting myself.” “I’m really not angry; I’m just warning you about what a huge jerk that guy is so you can, you know, avoid him.”

mad_350One of the lies we love to tell ourselves is that we’re not really angry. Either because we think that feeling angry is wrong or that it makes us weak, we don’t want to admit it. But that lie keeps us from dealing with the anger; you can’t get rid of something you won’t admit is there.

Anger comes in lots of flavors: Bitterness is old anger we won’t let go of. Rage is fierce anger. Brawling is anger that wants to fight hard right now. Slander is more subtle; we use it to hurt by spreading lies or rumors or by telling unkind truths to people who don’t need to know. Malice is anger that wants to bring the pain, whatever it takes.

Paul said none of those feelings are wrong by themselves, but that all of them will lead you in a worthless direction. We’ve got to ditch them.

Think: Do you ever have trouble admitting that you’re feeling angry? Why do you think that is? Which of these kinds of anger have you felt most often?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be honest about your anger and to give you the faith in him to let it go.

Do: Notice this week if any of your friends or family members seem to have trouble admitting that they feel angry.

Mad Week: Wrong Way!

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)

Have you ever noticed those Wrong Way signs on a divided highways or one-way streets? They’re almost funny – until you realize they’re talking to you. It’s like the Department of Roads is saying, “If you’ve missed all of our other signs pointing you in the right direction, this is our last attempt to keep you from having a head-on crash with another car.”

mad_350We should almost always think of our anger like one of those Wrong Way signs. It’s a warning that the way we’re going won’t get us to our destination. As Christians, anger should tell us, “You’re on the path away from the life God wants for you.”

The warning also tells us that if we don’t turn around soon, we’re probably going to get hurt. Or hurt someone else. Or maybe both. Usually, our U-turn option includes shutting up. Thinking hard. And putting anger away, hopefully before we make eye contact with another driver.

Think: What’s your most common reaction to feeling angry – to hit the brakes or step on the gas? Why do we so often do the opposite of what’s wise when we feel angry? How can we change that?

Pray: Ask God to help you to remember to hit the brakes the next time you start getting angry, before you do any damage to yourself or others.

Do: Look for Wrong Way signs when you’re driving around this week and use the reminder to ask God to help you to listen to and control your anger.