Have you ever been angry or upset because of the action of others? Is anger a SIN? We sometimes have the idea that anger is not called for and so we do not talk about it or we hide it away from our family. Of course we can also live with our anger so out in the open that it causes conflict in the home. Anger is not a bad thing in and of itself. God is described as “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:15). The key here is being slow and justified when allowing anger to be realized. God’s righteous anger is not selfish or a quick tempered lashing out. His anger bears up patiently waiting for us His creation to repent and call on His great mercy.
How do you deal with the anger and conflict that comes to any marriage and family? Do you practice the cold shoulder? Do you yell, scream, and throw stuff? Or do you plot unpleasant difficulties for the target of the anger? Whatever our anger and whatever the source God wants for us to face it head on and reconcile that trouble.
23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 ESV
What God does not want is for anger to dwell in our hearts because it will eat us up and become bitterness. This bitterness is where the sin dwells and our enemy is more than happy to destroy a marriage with bitterness. He wants for us to get it out in the open and work through it.
15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; Hebrews 12:15 ESV
There is another anger that many of us would not want to recognize or admit and that is anger toward God himself. Are you or have you been angry with God? If you said yes then you have much company. God sometimes asks from us and burdens us with requests and situations that make us upset. Jeremiah a prophet of God was given the task to tell the people that they would be conquered by Babylon and exiled away from their homeland. Jeremiah was beaten and put in stocks because of the bad news he kept delivering. This was a shoot the messenger kind of situation and he was very upset with God.
7 O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. 8 For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. Jeremiah 20:7-9 ESV
Job an Old Testament patriarch held more reason to be angry at God than anyone. God had allowed his wealth, workers, and children to be removed in violent occurrences. Job himself was plagued physically with boils all over his body. Job had an expectation to be angry but he has an amazing perspective on the situation.
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her… “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10 ESV
“It is well with my soul” is one of the greatest hymns ever written. The author, Horatio Spafford, was a business man who had lost much of his wealth and so he sent his family back to London from America. His family of four daughters and a wife were in a boat that sank on the trip. Only his wife survived the tragedy. He knew the ship sank but did not know if his family survived. His wife sent him a telegraph “survived alone”. I personally can’t imagine the grief and possible anger I might have against God in such a situation. Horatio’s response to the tragedy was to write “Whatever my lot thou has taught me to say it is well it is well with my soul”. This man is an example not unlike Job who holds out a perspective that is eternal and gives Glory to God in all things.
As with our spouse and so it is with God we must keep an eternal perspective. We must love one another and bear up with each other in love just as God has loved us. Do not be upset with God when you see others who seem to have a better life or circumstances. We have what we need from God.
The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand, Isaiah 14:24 ESV
Review with the small group the take home worksheet and discuss the questions together. Here are the small group discussion questions and a link to the take home worksheet…
- Are there any “open loops” that need to be resolved with your spouse or with God?
- Have you kept a safe distance from God because of a “no” or circumstance you do not like?
- Do you need to check-in with your spouse to lovingly confront any open issues?
- Do you need to apologize for a recent or long standing conflict?
Click here for a PDF copy of the take home worksheet