to Make It Right
I saw a child in the Target store the other
day that was pitching a fit. He was angry. He was crying and screaming
for his mom to buy him a toy that he was trying to put into the shopping
cart. She told him that he couldn’t have it. There was no end to his anger,
so his mom told him he could buy it. But he didn’t stop screaming and crying.
The mom pleaded with him saying, "I let you have it, won’t you stop crying."
He didn’t. He was lying on the floor holding his new acquired toy, but
he was still screaming. This is also how many grown ups live.
A Christian counselor told about a man who
came to counseling because he was having trouble controlling his anger.
He had these outbursts, and it was affecting his work and his family life.
So he finally decided to get some help.
The counselor wanted to find out if this man
could conceive of a different way of living. She asked him, "What would
your life look like if you got rid of your anger?"
It was quiet for a long time.
Then the man said, "But if I get rid of my
anger, what will I have left?"
Anger is becoming the dominant emotion. We
live in an angry nation of short-tempered people. Angry behavior has entered
every facet of our world. We see road rage, airport rage, grocery store
rage, violence at sporting events.
James Garbarino, human development professor
at Cornell University, reports a major social shift: There is a general
breakdown of social conventions, of manners, of social controls. This gives
a validation, a permission, to be aggressive. Kids used to be guided by
a social convention that said, "Keep the lid on." Today they are guided
more in the direction of taking it off.
that Generates Anger
The philosophy of our world is a self-centered
philosophy that generates anger toward the actions of others. C.
Leslie Charles condensed the basic philosophy of our world in a few short
I am entitled to what I want when I want it.
My time is important and I should not have to
be inconvenienced by others.
I have a right to be impatient or rude when other
people are behaving stupidly.
I am entitled to special privileges because I
am who I am.
I’m a taxpayer; I own part of this road and I
have the right to drive as fast as I want.
I’m too busy to mince around with false politeness
and should be able to tell people exactly what I think without having to
worry about their feelings.
I must be more in the know than everyone else
so I can stay "one up" on them; otherwise they may take advantage of me.
I deserve the newest, the biggest, the best,
and the most. It’s my right.
So what if I’m being rude—I never have to see
this person again, so what difference does it make?
My opinions and views are more valid than anyone
This world is unfair and opportunities are limited,
so I may as well get all I can while I can, regardless of who or what stands
in my way."
This belief system gives rise to the
anger we see in our world. From these insights we can begin to
see why our world is a very angry world. It is a philosophy that pits the
inhabitants of earth against each other.
In our scramble to seek its fulfillment
the American dream has become a nightmare. It has pitted us against
each other with a kind of competitiveness that can only bring pain and
suffering. The philosophy "The one with the most toys wins," leaves all
but the one with the most toys losers because only one can have the most
We only victimize ourselves when we
accept this philosophy of life. Throughout the Bible we observe
that those who fail--fail because they allow a false perception of how
they think things ought to be control their response.
Dangers of a Warped Perspective
Nothing in life is more important than
developing a proper perspective toward the circumstances that surround
us. Nothing would empower God to get a grip on our lives more than
developing a proper perspective of what happens to us.
You have heard the old saying, "What
you see is what you get." Too often what I see is what I have made
up my mind to see. We usually aim our lives toward what we see. If my view
of what I see is distorted my life will be distorted, for what I see will
the controlling factor of my life. This is why I think we need to be careful
about what we see.
Salvation history recorded in the Scriptures
is replete with examples of how warped perspectives mess up our lives.
Eve surrendered control of her life to
Satan when she reacted to the bad feelings she allowed Satan to bring to
fruition in her own heart. She was thoroughly convinced that she had
more coming to her than what she was getting. She was going to make it
right, and she plucked the juiciest piece of fruit on the Tree of Life.
She was just like most of the people I know. When she got what she wanted—she
didn’t want it any more.
We may even end up living our lives
based upon resentment generated by the goodness of others. We may
allow the good others do create bad feelings within our own heart as we
fail to measure up in our personal struggle at being good.
3 In the course of time Cain
brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But
Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The
LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his
offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face
6 Then the LORD said to Cain,
"Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is
right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin
is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master
Cain murdered Abel because of Abel’s goodness—he
resented Abel’s goodness. He allowed the goodness of Cain to generate
bad feelings in his own life about himself that came to fruition in the
murder of Abel.
There is a monster standing at the door
of every life seeking to devour it. God told Cain, "But if you
do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it
desires to have you, but
you must master it." That monster desires to have
you. It devoured Cain, for immediately after he heard these words, he killed
his brother Abel.
Say Life Is Unfair
Most of the evil in our world is predicated
by a feeling that life isn’t fair. I
may feel that life is unfair because I haven’t gotten the acceptance, security,
approval, respect, and rewards that I think I deserve.
Sadly many are seeking to get what they feel is due them.
How I respond when I believe life isn’t
fair is crucial for me. What controls my life when I feel an overwhelming
sense of desperation? Do I blame the cause on others? This is the crucial
issue in managing my personal life. If my life is defined solely by over
reaction to the actions of others, I am in trouble. I am in trouble because
reactionary living surrenders control of my life to others.
Responding in anger surrenders my life
to the control of my circumstances. Have you spent your life seeking
to get what is due you? Have you spent your life with a low-grade fever
of frustration because you feel that you haven’t got what was due you?
Have you spent your life with a low-grade fever of frustration because
you feel others haven’t got what was coming to them?
The world is full of people crying out
in anger seeking to make things right. There is nothing wrong with
seeking to make things right. Its how we go about seeking to make things
right that creates a problem. We usually want to make our own rules to
make things right for me, and we end up with a self-centered philosophy
such as the one we previously described. Self-preservation usually becomes
When you listen to the devil, he does
He makes you question God’s Word.
He makes God look harsher than He is.
The popular novelist Vince Rause (Handy
As I Want To Be, 1999) is not a believer, but he writes in the Los
Angeles Times Magazine about a time when he was going through hardships
in life and was blaming God for them. One night he reflected in bed, and
he realized something significant about his anger and his disbelief. He
remembers that night: "As I lay in bed with the empty, hostile cosmos pressing
down, a thought popped into my head: I am angry at a God I don't believe
the Misplaced Emotion
We can’t busy ourselves doing things
that repress or suppress our anger thinking it will pass without any effort
on our part. I read this article that said the typical symptoms
of stress are: eating too much, impulse buying, and driving too fast. Someone
asked, "Are they kidding? That is my idea of a perfect day." If this is
how we deal with stress and anxiety, we haven’t dealt with it.
is a God given emotion that few ever learn to process God’s way.
The Bible admonishes us to be angry and sin
not (Ephesians 4:26). God gives us a right to get angry. Paul says, "Be
angry, but don’t sin." Therefore, anger has a good side that must be discovered.
God is not asking us to repress or suppress the anger over the wrong, but
deal with it properly.
John Ortberg talks about having anger with
no sin: it's not easy, but it's possible. He says:
"Lots of people have the power to hurt or
frustrate me. Only one has the power to make me angry.
"If it is true that no one else can make me
angry, it is even more true that no one else can make me respond aggressively
or inappropriately when I feel anger. It often seems that way because my
response to feeling anger has become so routine that it seems ‘automatic.’
It feels as if the person or event triggered my anger and caused my response.
"The truth is my response is learned behavior.
I learned it long ago, from people I grew up around, learned it so informally
that I was not aware that I was learning anything.
"The good news is what can be learned can
be unlearned. It is possible for me to manage my anger in a God-honoring
way: to "be angry and sin not." Anger is an inescapable fact of life. But
the experience of anger is different from the expression of anger. What
I do with that anger, how I express and manage it, is another matter."
(Citation is from Preaching Today, John Ortberg, Having Anger with No
Sin. It Is Not Easy, But It Is Possible.)
The Bible is written to give us a different
perspective on life as it admonishes us to deal with a negative world in
a positive way. Misplaced anger cannot change our world for the
In a 1994 article, "Wars' Lethal Leftovers
Threaten Europeans," Associated Press reporter Christopher Burns writes:
"The bombs of World War II are still killing in Europe. They turn up--and
sometimes blow up--at construction sites, in fishing nets, or on beaches
fifty years after the guns fell silent.
"Hundreds of tons of explosives are recovered
every year in France alone. Thirteen old bombs exploded in France last
year, killing twelve people and wounding eleven, the Interior Ministry
"'I've lost two of my colleagues,' said Yvon
Bouvet, who heads a government team in the Champagne-Ardennes region that
defuses explosives from both World War I and II. ...
"Unexploded bombs become more dangerous with
time, Bouvet said. 'With the corrosion inside, the weapon becomes more
unstable, the detonator can be exposed.'" What is true of lingering
bombs is also true of lingering anger. Buried anger will explode when we
least expect it.
Lingering anger breeds bitterness and
is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Response to Anger
The world’s way of dealing with anger
is fighting back, getting what you deserve, and getting even. We
must allow God to renew our minds in order to transform our world rather
than conform to the world’s way of thinking.
A reactionary seeks to change what has already
happened. It is like trying to go back and change the past. It doesn’t
work. We may learn from past experiences how to revolutionize our future,
but we can’t change the past. The mistake we make is that our anger holds
on to what has happened to us in the past; if it isn’t dealt with we will
be forever chained to the past.
Christians must help the world bear
its burden of anger. We must use our anger against sin to motivate us to
help the world bear its burden in a positive way. The following
verses penned by the apostle Paul give us insight in how to go about building
a better world. They are written to Christians to help them in their relationships,
but universal application needed.
6:1Brothers, if someone is
caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch
yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other's burdens, and
in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is
something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test
his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself
to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load.
6 Anyone who receives instruction
in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot
be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful
nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please
the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become
weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we
do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to
all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Here we discover the basic rules for
building a better world. Paul is writing to the church but he reminds
us of our responsibility to a world bearing the burden of sin as he admonishes
"us to do good to all people."
Don’t overact to
the failures of others. Instead, restore or seek to instruct
those who are wrong in gentleness. Paul says, "if someone is caught
in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." Remember
when someone sins against you or anyone remember it is their burden. Try
not to be offended when they seek to dump it on you. I try to do this by
seeking to gain an understanding of where a person is coming from. This
helps me understand the person.
Remember there are different stages
of life that bring on problems. Try to understand where a person is coming
from. When I reach their stage in life I might find myself acting the same
way they are acting. When I reach that stage I hope someone helps me carry
We must watch ourselves
lest we become tempted through the sin of another. Paul
writes, "But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."
The key to managing our lives is learning how not to fall into the
same trap we are trying to get others out of by over reacting. It is important
for us to keep a tight lid on our lives as we seek to guide the misbehaving
person back to the right way. This may not be easy. This is especially
true if the sin committed is against me.
We must understand
the need to bear the burden of others wrong doing against us in a Christ
like manner. Paul writes, "Carry each other's burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." I shouldn’t
try to dump the load back on another to see how they like it, but I must
carry the load they dumped on me to fulfill Christ’s law. The burden of
sin is too heavy for a person to bear alone. We need each other’s help
to bear our burdens. The reason a person dumps his/her load on you is because
it got too heavy for them to bear. Help them bear it! It will do you good.
It will save their soul.
We must maintain
the attitude of Christ’s forgiveness toward those who sin against us.
Christ makes our burden light by his willingness to bear our burden of
sin. This is true whether we are doing what is right or what is wrong.
He bears our burden regardless. Our attitude must be the same as his.
Don’t allow another’s
burden to obscure your own burden. Paul writes, "If
anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself."
We are only deceiving ourselves when we allow the sin of others
to blind us to the sin in our own lives. Don’t allow their troubles make
us feel superior. We might have a tendency to look down upon those who
are failing. We may begin to think that we don’t deserve the abuse. But
their failures and actions toward me do not enhance or diminish who we
are. Paul writes, "Each one should test his own actions. Then he
can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
for each one should carry his own load." I
think this is Paul’s way of saying that we must remain level headed.
There is no need
for us to develop a vengeful attitude because of the unfair treatment from
others. There is nothing wrong with protecting ourselves,
but vengeance belongs to God. Paul writes, "Do not be deceived: God
cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please
his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who
sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."
In the vernacular Paul says, "Contrary
to popular belief, life really is fair, God will see to it if we will only
trust in his timing." God’s judgment against the person
who does us wrong is sure, but it is measured out in such a way so as to
bring the person to repentance due time. God has designed life in such
a way to give each of us a chance to make our lives right. What could be
fairer? So don’t spend your time trying to get even, bear the burden they
have dumped on you and in God’s timing everything will be fine. God will
see to it.
Remember it is easier
to become angry if we allow ourselves to become weary in doing what is
right. We may become weary as we wait upon God’s timing.
Paul admonishes, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the
proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
To properly focus
your anxious energy you must focus intently on your need to return good
for evil. "Therefore,
as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those
who belong to the family of believers." This will lighten your
burden and theirs and it will help to keep you from sinning. This will
help God reach his goal in bringing the person to repentance. When that
person comes to repentance everybody’s burden will be lifted.
The only way to change the past is to change
our anger in a godly direction will allow me to experience the power of
God in my circumstances rather than becoming a victim of my circumstances.
that true change depends upon experiencing the character of God.