I want to talk now about, it is so dangerous to take this weapon of anger that he’s going to tell us now, how specifically after this passage, to treat it when you’ve been wounded deeply, how to clean out that wound. How to bandage the wound. And how to get whole so that good things can happen.
Step one, to be good and mad is to cleanse the wound. Cleanse the wound. Verse 31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger. Brawling and slander. Along with every form of malice.” How do you cleanse the wound? Confession and repentance of unresolved anger. Confession and repentance are the two key words there.
Listen to the command. “Get rid of.” He’s given us this picture. “Take off, have your mind renewed, put on.” Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling, slander. And then along with that, that desire to hurt people. Malice. The motive is, you really want to make them pay. And you gotta cleanse the wound. Now, here’s the deal. In your humanness and in my humanness, here’s how I play it out. When she really apologizes and realizes how deeply she’s hurt me, I’ll forgive her, when that former business partner that rips me off, that claims to be a Christian, apologizes and tells me what he really did and owns it. When that lady who said those things about me at church and you know, we mentioned, apologizes, then. Here’s what I want to say. Some of you, especially as couples, you gotta be the proactive one.
Every issue, every anger issue, every relational problem, is never a hundred percent zero percent issue. You know what I’m saying? In other words, they’re not a hundred percent wrong and you are zero percent innocent. Now most of you would agree with that, right? Now what I know is, it’s ninety/ten. It’s 90% them and only 10% you, right? I mean when you think about what they did and what, okay. Now here’s the deal. If you want to see the wound cleansed. If you want to not let this anger ruin your relationship with God and with others and not allow you to be a vessel and a weapon for righteous indignation, you gotta cleanse the wound, you, you have to get rid of the 10% of your bitterness and anger and wrath and malice and you have to confess it and then repent. Confess means I agree with God, this anger, this bitterness, this resentment, this passive-aggressive, this leaking, these exploding. I need to say, God, I am sorry. Will you forgive me? I turn away from that. I don’t want to do it anymore. I resolve in my heart. And then you look into the eyes of that friend or that mate and then maybe right after we get done here, and you say, “Honey, I want to tell you, this is how I’ve hurt you with my anger and this is the mask that I wear” and then with eye contact, “will you forgive me?”
Then you purpose, you know your heart of hearts, you know it’s a pattern and your purpose, I don’t want to do this anymore, but if I do it again I want you to know, I am going to take this seriously. And it’s hard and it’s painful. You are saying, “Well, no you don’t understand, it’s 90% him.” Hey you know what, you own yours. You can’t control him or you can’t control her. You can’t control that person in another state that moved away with your mate.
My kids and I, I love basketball, and Sunday afternoon was sort of our release time. So we played pick up basketball and I had a driveway that had a nice slant to it so when all my friends came over I know where the slant is, it was an amazing home court advantage. “Man, I’m shooting kind of short, ah don’t worry about it you know.” So, uh, and all my boys, it must be, and daughter, I don’t know what it is but There are sort of winning and losing, it’s not like you are better than, but we are intense and we really like to compete. Along with my closest friends. I mean we are brothers. We really care but I mean it is an in your face, no holds barred, and when you go to the hoop and the guy gets in your way, you don’t mean to but I mean, if his nose gets broken, his nose gets broken and you know, guy skids on the concrete. So about every three months, Theresa is inside and hearing grunts and rolls and you know we always go to the ER. A lot of times you get a big gash, right? And it was just normal, I put them in the car, here we go again, I mean, three boys it’s just life. That’s how we did life. And we loved each other deeply. But I’m going to tell you, when we went to the ER and you know there would be like a deep gash, and gravel and dirt they’d pour this junk on it, and you know, when they were younger, I had to hold them. And then what do they do? They rub it and the kids goin. And everything in you as a parent wants to say, “You’re hurting my boy. Hey doc do you need to do it that much?” “Hey, I’ve just started.” And they start picking little pieces of gravel out. And then It looks pretty clean to you, then what do they do? They take this syringe with a needle? Right? Sssssss. And the saline solution and uhh! You know? Right? They cleanse the wound! Because if they don’t cleanse the wound what happens? It gets infected.
It’s not pretty. It hurts a lot. But some of you are living with an infection that’s festered for decades. Cleanse the wound. Forgive and repent. Then in verse 32, he says, “Treat the wound.” I mean, my kids didn’t leave with, “Dad, I think it’s clean.” Then what happens? They treated it. Verse 32 tells us how to treat it. “Be kind and compassionate toward one another forgiving each other just as God in Christ also forgave you.” Then he goes on to say, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children. Live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant aroma, a sacrifice to God.”
And so he says, “You need to cleanse the wound” and then it goes on to say we need to treat it. And this is forgiveness and reconciliation. I confess it, I repent, and now, I’ve got to take it from the horizontal and the beginning of confessing it to a person, and then I need to both receive and give forgiveness. I need to extend, I’m going to take you off the hook. I refuse to keep trying to pay you back. I’m not going to bring your mind up to God anymore. And out of my mouth, I won’t say to my closest friends anymore how you do this and our marriage is like this, you’ve been doing it for years and he’s a spewer and she doesn’t do this. And you know, every time I know she’s mad, ‘cause you know she doesn’t want to have sex ever and you know all this stuff. I’m not going to say it anymore. I’m going to forgive and I’m going to extend reconciliation. I’m going to say, let’s get back on the same team.
I’m going to do for this person what Christ has done for me. Be kind. Be tenderhearted. By the way, I will just tell you, that’s the issue. According to Jesus, there is only one reason why people ever get divorced. Because of the hardness of heart. Some of you are here and that’s the issue. It’s not your mate’s stuff or your stuff. When you get wounded and you get hurt and you’ve been spewed on or they’ve leaked anger, or you feel used. Your heart gets hard. You just start protecting yourself. So it’s a big risky step of faith when you cleanse the wound. And you confess your side of it and you repent and then the next big step is you extend forgiveness. You say, “God, in light of what you’ve done for me, I’m going to extend it to them.”
I had a situation, not all that long ago where I went through a really, really difficult time that involved betrayal. I don’t know if you’ve ever been betrayed where people make very specific commitments and they said they’re going to do certain things and then you find yourself, like, you are kidding. I mean, just, way, way out there. For me, maybe it’s my personality, but when you are betrayed, ooh, the anger, the resentment, and so, you know, I’ve gotten to practice this.
To extend forgiveness, I really wrestled. I had, like, a three month wrestling match with God telling him what he ought to do to these people that betrayed me and they should know better and on and on and on and then I had a friend say, “You know something, I’d like you to go through a little exercise.” He kind of knew the whole gamut of the situation and he said, “I’d like you to pray for a week and then we’ll meet at a golf club, actually.” And he said, “Let’s meet next week right here. I’d like you to pray and ask God any and every mistake and anything that you would be culpable of, even the small things. That sort of helped bring about this difficult, painful thing.
And I did. And I remember writing out seven very specific things that I thought, “Wow, God I wish you hadn’t showed me so much.” You know, I’d like to say, mine were all little and theirs were all big. It was, oh. That was dumb. And then I began to think if I was them how would I view that, well I could view that maybe he was actually trying to do that. Whoo. Gosh, no wonder they betrayed me. Then there’s this. And you know that wasn’t sin it was a mistake but and I listed seven things. And I got the next week with that guy at the golf course and I looked at it and he said, “You’re having a hard time forgiving these people, aren’t ya?” I said, “Yeah, I really am.” He said, “So how do you think you’d like to God to treat you on this one? “I said, “Pff. Man I don’t want what I deserve.”
You know it was just kinda like he led me through. You know, here’s this guy helping the pastor who’s supposed to know this. And he kind of led me through that little parable, you know, in Matthew 18 of the servant that gets forgiven 20 million dollars and then he goes and won’t forgive the guy for twenty bucks. And basically what he said was it’s not about proportion. You want God to be merciful with you. If you really want that, you always have to give away what you want to receive.
Then I had, you know, I even listed my excuses. That’s not fair. They don’t deserve it. And he looked at me and said, “I know. You are not doing it because they deserve it. You are doing it to obey. You are doing it so that you can be free” and you know what? Christ did it for you. Not passing it on is not an option.
What do you need to do? You cleanse the wound, confession and repentance, you treat the wound, forgiveness and reconciliation and then third, you need to bandage the wound. This is chapter 5 verses 1 and 2. I eluded to them earlier and read them but you know, listen, listen to what it says, it’s not about just, “Okay, I forgave him, I think everything’s okay as far as depends on me, I never want to see him again, never want to talk to them, I hope nothing ever happens.” Be imitators. Literally the word is, mimic God. We get our English word, that word imitator, if you would go to the Greek text it’s mimi. Literally, mimic God. That’s a pretty big command. Be imitators of God, therefore, and notice in your notes, put a parenthesis around “as dearly loved children.” You can’t give away what you don’t have.
For many of you the breakthrough will come, I remember listing those seven things, and you know, I don’t want to be overly dramatic here but when I saw them, I cried. I just thought, “Man that’s ugly.” And it wasn’t like I willfully did any of that it wasn’t like I was doing some big bad things. But when I really saw some things in my heart and when I really saw where I blew it. It’s just like, “Ah, that’s so ugly, God.” Then I had this amazing warmth experience where Jesus, you know, “Chip, I know, that’s why I died. Chip, I really wasn’t surprised on this one. I wasn’t shocked. I saw this one all the way back at the cross.”
See you mimic God but as one who’s already dearly loved. You don’t work this up. It’s receiving more and more and then, as a dearly loved on, live a life of love as Christ loved us and gave himself as a fragrant offering and sacrifice. So in terms of a very practical way, this is how you put the past behind you.
You put the past behind you. When I have struggled with forgiveness. The most powerful thing I’ve ever experienced is learning to pray for that person. It won’t start of real good. Like, “Lord, will you show them what they really need to hear? Lord, will you cause them to repent. Lord, would you bring about difficult things in their life so they would look up to you, seek you, and then tell me, they’re sorry?” There are all kind of ways we want to do that.
I’ve found that if I can bless those who persecute me, the word bless means to seek the salvation and the deliverance of another and when people curse you it’s a strong, strong word of them wanting to take you down. That’s Romans 12:14. But Romans 12:14 to 21 became my mantra. “Love your enemies.” Paul is really quoting and encapsulizing Jesus in Luke 6. Love your enemies. Do good to them. Pray for those who use you. Who despise you. If your enemy’s hungry, feed him. If he’s thirsty, give him a drink. Don’t be overcome with evil. Overcome evil with good.
I started praying for these people every day. Then every time I took the Lord’s supper I just made a little vow, “I will always pray and ask your blessing from the depth of my heart and I long for the day when I hear something great about them, about their marriage, about their life, about their kids, about ministry. That my initial reaction before I can think is rejoicing. When that day comes, I’ll know that I have act, forgive, process, forgiven, forgiving, and then when that day comes when I can immediately rejoice when I hear something good about those who’ve done me wrong, but it would be forgiven.
Forgiveness is a choice. There is a section in the book that if you struggle with this, they’ve done some really good work. What is forgiveness. What it’s not. How do you go through the process. I think There are a lot of misunderstandings. Well I forgave them but I still feel bad. I forgave them but I still have these angry feelings. Well, it’s a decision, a process, and then there is an ending. Every time I took the Lord’s supper, I prayed and prayed and prayed and, you know, it really was exciting after a journey to hear some very positive things and before I could think about it, my response was, ‘Thank you, Lord.” And it was like, great, great, I’ve extended to them what you’ve extended to me, I don’t want them to get what they deserve, just like, God, I don’t want to get what I deserve.
Therefore, be merciful even as your heavenly father is merciful, Jesus said, who causes it to rain on the evil and the good. On those who give thanks and those who don’t. If you’ll look at part 8 I want to just go over like where do we go from here? Okay? Where do we go from here?
We’ve taken in a lot of information and I’m sensing and praying God’s doing a lot of good things inside and so on one page I want to give you a summary. I want to walk you through a few just real simple questions that will get you started but it’s going to take a long time for some to answer them in a way but it’s going to be the road to freedom.
I want to just share something God laid on my heart this morning. So in terms of summary and application, you’ll notice the little chart. It says there’s an area of anger. You have stuffers, spewers, and leakers and then the appropriate expression. I want to just walk through this is just a quick review. The message to one’s self. When you get angry, when you stuff it, I must not show anger or be angry because anger is bad. If you are a spewer, it’s your fault anger is necessary, if it’s, you are a leaker, it’s too dangerous to express anger directly, so I’m going to show my anger in a different way, and here’s the appropriate expression. Here’s what we’ve learned.
It’s okay to be angry. It’s what I do with it that matters. Anger can be good. Remember our little equation? Your AQ, your anger quotient, and I wish I had a big white board. AQ equals E, environment, plus P, perspective, times O426. Obedience to Ephesians 4:26. And the, there you have it right there. The action for a stuffer is to stuff, avoid, pretend, repress, and suppress. The action for a spewer is explode, control, either in an uncontrolled manner or in a very calculated way. The action for a leaker is passive-aggressive, indirect power, and then sort of subtle slander. And here’s the appropriate expression. Be assertive. Make non-threatening “I feel” statements about needs and desires.
In terms of reaction. The stuffer denies feelings or angry, “Me? Angry? Not me.” They bury, hide, pretend you are not angry. Spewers yell, slam doors, kick, shout, push, shove, become hostile. Leakers procrastinate, gossip, be late, don’t follow through. And their yes and no’s not reliable. The appropriate Biblical response is what? The reaction, express it directly, or release it indirectly. Getting the anger out in a non-destructive way. So There are times and ways we walk through. You address it, you address it to a person, sometimes it’s face to face, sometimes, it’s on the phone, sometimes you write a letter. And other times it’s a situation where, you know what, it will do no good, you are not the person responsible to address it, and what you need to do is do some healthy wholesome activity after expressing it to God and like for me it’s working out, or taking a walk, or listening to music and releasing that anger and saying, I’m not, I’m not responsible or I’m not the one to address this. But I need to deal with my anger.
In terms of results. When you stuff you grow out of touch with emotions. You live in denial. You expend excessive energy avoiding anger. I thought it was a powerful statement we heard earlier as people were sharing to hear a woman get up and say, “I stuffed my anger and then I modeled for my family something very negative and now I’m seeing it played out in the next generation.” For some of you that are thinking, this is too hard, this is too difficult; I just can’t wait to get out of here. I just want to get in that car or get on that plane and get out of here and throw away these notes and not deal with this.” Do it for your kids. Do it for those that are around you. Because you will pass it on.
The results for the spewer are damaged relationships and emotional distance. The results for the leakers: unhealthy communication, damaged relationships. The appropriate expression and what occurs, the results are, restored, healthy relationships, open honest communication, justice and righteousness upheld, grace and mercy given.
Now, I, you know what, that’s a very simple little chart. But that basically covers almost everything we’ve done in the last seven or eight sessions.
Questions for further thought. Here’s where I want you to ponder. I would encourage you as this comes to a close, who is an accountability partner of the same sex for you. Who are two or three other people in a small group. Who’s going to go on a journey with you to unpack and deal with where God’s spoken to you. Because I will tell you, two days from now, the new pressures, the old patterns, nothing will change unless you start. So here’s the questions.
In what areas do you see the need to become more expressive in your anger? Where do you see that you need to be more expressive? Under control, rightly, directly.
What safe-guards can help you express your anger and yet do it appropriately? Third question. Is how, is the example of Jesus helpful as you examine anger issues relevant to you? Wasn’t it kind of refreshing to think that Jesus really got angry? Isn’t it exciting to think that there is wrong in the world and God deposited you with an emotion to make a difference to motivate you like few things in all the world? And that you could make a difference by getting mad about the right stuff?
What did you learn about anger resolution? Why is it so important? And then, fifth. Are there any anger issues or relationships in your life that need complete resolution? What steps will you take?
For some people, just repeat this one more time, I don’t mean to beat a drum. If you need help personally, you are a single mom, you are a single dad, you are a single person, you are a married couple, and you have tried and this is a pattern and maybe it goes all the way back to some things that when you really think about it you’ve learned and you can’t solve it yourself. Get some help. Just get some help.