You are on page 1of 3

Sin of Anger 22 May 2011 Elder Peter Goh

Psalm 37:1-8 records thus, “Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shall thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shall be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” The potential of losing our temper (or being angry) exits in all of us without exception. The world at large today views anger as a ‘negative emotion.’ On the other hand, Christians often identify anger as a sin and feel a sense of guilt when they get angry. However, the Bible deals with both divine and human anger. It presents God as sometimes being angry. We read these words in Exodus 4:14, “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.” Yet again, “And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, Because that this people hath transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice.” (Judges 2:20) In Deuteronomy 4:21 Moses wrote thus, “Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and swore that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” It speaks of God's wrath being linked with strong descriptive words like “the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel” (Judges 2:20) and “the fierce anger of the LORD” (Jeremiah 51:45). However we must not confuse God's anger with man's anger. God's anger is always righteous. God's anger is provoked only by sin. It is expressed with only good in mind. God's anger is in perfect harmony with His character. Because God is a holy God, His wrath is righteous and it is for judgment. Exodus 34:6-7 records thus, “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” However man's anger is entirely different. It is an outburst of his sinful nature. The Bible gives us many warnings against human anger. Anger, especially uncontrolled anger is extremely dangerous! Anger can lead not only to strife and dissension but even to the loss of lives. A hot-tempered person can be very vulnerable to sin including murder. I remember a case which my lawyer friend shared with me. He had to defend a man for murdering his wife. This sickly man was often hospitalised for a day or two. Upon returning home he would hear of rumours that his wife was unfaithful. One day while coming home from hospital, he met his wife in the kitchen. His wife who was surprised to see him discharged earlier than expected remarked, “You are home early!” In a fit of anger, being suspicious of his wife’s unfaithfulness, he took a knife and continually stabbed her to death. Psalm 37 can be referred to as the wisdom psalm of David. Verses 1-8 provide some insights as to how we can deal with our anger when we see it coming. The expression, “fret not” as mentioned in verses 1, 7 and 8 literally means “do not get heated up or do not get all worked up”. But verse 8 punctuates it by adding on these words, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath.” In this portion of inspired Scripture, we are taught to do five (5) things when we encounter anger. (1) We are to “trust in the LORD and do good.” (verse 3) Brethren, to “trust in the LORD” is to turn over our anger to Him, knowing that He knows our feelings. When we are angry, we are to accept the fact that we are angry and to express our feeling and frustrations to God in earnest prayer “for He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14) We are to allow God to help us take control of our anger. Christians who truly trust God will experience the

power of God in their life. Instead of focusing on our anger, God will help us change our perspective and feeling of it. So let us trust God even when trying situations cause us to be angry. In anger, sin not but seek to do good instead. (Ephesians 4:26). (2) We are to “delight….in the LORD.” (verse 4) Instead of dwelling on our anger, we ought to channel our energy positively. Instead of allowing strife and conflict to arise, we are to focus our minds on God. Christians who desire after God will find Him delightful. Why? Because our God is the perfection of all grace, compassion, mercy, kindness, patience, and love. The words of the hymn, “He is the Lily of the valley, the Bright and Morning Star, He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul” reflect on the hymn-writer’s relationship with God. The reason why so many Christians are unable to delight themselves in God is that they do not know Him well enough in a personal way, and the reason they do not know Him well enough is that they do not spend time with Him, and in His Word. Psalm 1 begins with these words, “Blessed is the man....but his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night….”. And this comes with a precious promise, if we delight ourselves in the LORD, “….He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” This means God will give Himself to us. Spending time with God and seeking His will surely take away any anger and anxiety which may come upon us. Psalm 94:19, has this to say, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.” (3) We are to “commit our way unto the LORD.” (verse 5) The word “commit” suggests casting our cares or burdens upon God. Psalm 55:22, “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” The Apostle Peter exhorts believers in 1 Peter 5:7 thus, “casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” Our Lord Jesus Christ knows our conflicts and He calls all believers in Matthew 11:28 to “come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Our Lord loves and cares for us more than we can think or imagine. He will help us to overcome the anger in our hearts. Instead of doing what Scripture teaches, many Christians are guilty of taking matters into their own hands and as a result sin against the LORD. Even though when the anger can be justified, the action may be wrong and sinful. Recall Romans 12:17-19, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” How then shall we handle anger? (4) We are to “rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.” (verse 7) When provoked, most if not all will react immediately. But this is not what the Bible teaches. God tells us to do the opposite. We are to “be silent” and wait upon the LORD for Him to undertake for us. There must not be any self assertion. This is a great mark of a godly person that he or she is able to maintain a settled and calm frame of mind when being provoked. We are to wait for God's timing, not ours. This is not easy for many believers to do, yet we are to trust God and to patiently wait for Him. (5) We are to “cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” (verse 8) We are commanded to refrain and turn away from anger. We must not allow anger to remain and grow to such an extent that it turns to hatred. We are not to take matters into our own hands and to come up with an evil plan as a revenge. Many Christians fail to heed this command and as a result fall into terrible sins. They allow hatred to grow and harden their hearts to the extent of not forgiving those who have offended them. Our Lord Jesus warns us against this in Matthew 5:2224, He said, “…..whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” We can learn much from the example of the great leader and man of God Moses. In Numbers 12:3 is

recorded that “the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” Moses ran away from Egypt and went to Midian and settled there. When he married an Ethiopian woman both his brother Aaron and sister Miriam took objection and they launched a rebellion. They said in Numbers 12:2, “…Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath He not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.” God was displeased, and so He “..spoke suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.” (Numbers 12:4) God reiterated His choice of Moses as the leader of His people. Then God pronounced judgment upon Miriam and she was afflicted with leprosy.

What was Moses' conduct throughout this incident? His authority has been challenged. Did he fight back against this injustice? Did he try to vindicate himself, as we would have done? No! Moses trusted in God, delighted himself in God, committed his way to God, was still before God, refraining himself from being angry at what was happening. God ‘defended’ him and vindicated him. Moses was meek, not weak for meekness does not equate to weakness. Rather, it is the exact opposite – it is strength or power under control!
In conclusion let us apply God's Word in handling our anger that we might not sin against Him. Like Moses, let us trust God, delight in Him, commit all our ways to Him, be still before Him, refrain ourselves from being angry when wrongfully treated, and waiting for the salvation of the LORD which is adequately expressed thus, “receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:9)