Temper Tirades

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 16:10, 2 Timothy 2:24, Colossians 3:8
Date: 09/13/2003 
This sermon is about anger. For a Christian it is very costly to lose your temper. Anger is not all bad. But the lack of control destroys an opportunity to witness to Christ. Anger destroys your wisdom.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

There was a girl, young girl who came home from school and she told her father she needed to do a report, that in the report she needed to explain something that would help describe the difference between anger, rage, and exasperation. She asked her father what is the difference. He said, “Well, I suppose it’s a difference of intensity.” He said, “Let’s do an experiment and I’ll illustrate.” And they walked over to the phone and they had one of those speaker phones and so the dad put it on speaker and he randomly dialed a phone number. Nothing happened so he dialed another one. Pretty soon this man picked up, and the father said, “Hello, is Melvin there?” And the man said, “Well, you should check your number. There is no Melvin here.” And he hung up the phone. The father turned to his daughter and he said, “Now, see that man was annoyed because he’s probably doing something and he was interrupted because of this phone call. And then he presses redial. The man picks up the phone. The father said, “Is Melvin there?” And the man said, “What’s wrong with you? You should know. You just dialed this number a minute ago. Are you an idiot or something?

Of course I told you there is no Melvin here.” He hung up the phone. The father turned to his father. He said, “Now that’s anger. The father is getting angry.” And he presses redial one more time. The man picks up the phone, and the father said, “I’d like to speak to Melvin.” Now the man begins to say some things and the father has to hang up because his daughter is hearing some things she shouldn’t hear. He said, “Now that’s rage.” He said, “Let’s take it to the next level.” And he presses the redial button again and it rings and rings and finally the man picks up. He says, “Yes!” And the father said, “Hi, this is Melvin. I’m wondering if I’ve had any calls.” And all they can hear on the phone is this exasperated sputtering. And the father turns to the daughter, he says, “Now that’s exasperation!” I don’t suppose there’s anyone here who has ever dealt with any of those issues of I’m not talking about calls during dinner. I’m talking about anger, rage, lack of self-control, exasperation. There is a definition for anger. “Strong feelings of displeasure or hostility, wrath, antagonism, seething, exasperation, temper, rage.” The sermon title today is “Temper Tirades”.

I though it would be appropriate periodically to talk about this issue because it is something that we all struggle with. Anger. I will not ask for a show of hands. I would hope that every hand would go up. If it didn’t go up I would wonder. I think that some of us may have feelings of anger but by the grace of God we’re able to control those. You may have known a few rare people who have never expressed any of these emotions of exasperation or frustration or anger or rage. I’ve seen the Lord really help me through his spirit over the years. I know in growing up I think it may be more true among men that someone losing their temper is almost applauded. It’s laughed at. It’s praised among men as a sign of machismo. “Boy I really lost it!” I remember I worked in a logging shop. We worked on logging trucks and there was one diesel mechanic there that he used to put on quite a display. You’d hear this tirade of words that I can’t repeat in church and stomping and kicking.

A tool box full of tools getting hurled across a concrete shop makes quite a clatter. And he’d carry on like that and all the other mechanics would laugh and it was quite a display and he thought that was a sign of his manliness. And sometimes we tell stories and say, “Oh, boy! I really lost it and I did such and such and such.” But you know there’s nothing to be applauded from the Christian perspective in losing your temper because when you lose your temper you know who finds it? It’s the devil, and it’s, if nothing else, temporary demon possession. And I’ll deal with some of the examples of why that can’t be appropriate. For a Christian it can be very costly to lose your temper. You may have heard of the famous musician, the conductor Toscanini and he was known almost as well for his great music as his temper and his outbursts and sometimes during rehearsals he’d be leading his orchestra and someone would hit a flat note and he would snap his conductor’s stick on his knee and stomp around.

One occasion he had a gold watch that he had up on the stand and he threw it down on the ground and he stomped on it, began to jump up and down on it and he would carry on. But you know the musicians loved him in spite of this so shortly after this tirade he was presented with a velvet box with two watches in it. One of them was another beautiful gold timepiece. The other was a cheap timepiece with an inscription on it that said, “For rehearsals only.” And some people you’ve known probably like this had been known for their temper. We often joke about it and we’ll say, “Well, you know, I can’t help it because after all I’m Irish and you know us redheads.” Or “I’m Italian” or “I’m German” or “I’m…” whatever you happen to be. Every race has got their excuses, right? For having bad tempers, but I don’t find a provision in the Bible for that. Losing your temper can be a very costly thing. Moses in one place is called the meekest man in all the world and yet he was not allowed to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land because he lost his temper on the borders of the Promised Land.

I wonder if there is a lesson for us. Some might be denied that eternal reward because what you do not control controls you and some of us lose control. We lose our tempers and we lose the Promised Land as a result. There is an Italian proverb that says, “Anger is a very expensive commodity.” Will Rogers said, “Don’t fly into a rage unless you’re ready for a rough landing.” How many marriages have been terminated if not damaged because somebody in one of these tirades utters words that are thoughtless and they cut and they wound and they leave scars that are not easily forgotten? Indeed, wars have been fought in which thousands of dollars, millions of dollars indeed millions of lives have been lost because some ruler lost his temper and reacted in some tirade and sent armies marching off to their death. Anger uncontrolled anger is a very costly commodity. Now I should probably say at this point anger isn’t all bad. And I’ll say more about that. Matter of fact, when your body experiences anger it’s a response that the Lord has wired into us. Every emotion you can experience probably has a good possible objective. If you come between a mother and her child or if a mother sees somebody trying to wrestle their child into a strange car she will have all of the same physiological responses of anger in an effort to protect her child and that’s good.

God wired us that way. But it’s the lack of control and these temper tirades that destroy the Christian’s witness. Which brings us to our next point. Through our losing our temper we have often lost our opportunity to witness to others for Christ. I can think of a few examples where I have been in some public setting and children have a special gift for getting you to raise the volume. And I don’t know I was somewhere. I don’t even remember where it was but it was in some public setting and the kids were, you know you just take them through the market and sometimes you’d think that they’d had a, someone’s been giving them espresso and they’re just grabbing and touching everything and you’re trying to just get your job done and Oh, you shout at them because it seems like they. You know you live by the railroad track and pretty soon you don’t hear the train? You can live by the airport; you don’t hear the planes going over.

Children have that with their parents and it gets where they just tune them out and you have to raise the voice. I don’t believe there is ever an excuse for that. Who is it, Dr. Dobson that said, “Trying to control your children by shouting is like trying to steer a car with a horn. It doesn’t’ work.” But I raised my voice. That sounds so much more pastorly than saying yelled, right? And then right after that I ran into somebody who went to the church and I thought to myself, ah, I just I was so ashamed. It doesn’t sound or look very Christian. It often damages our witness. The Bible tells about King Asa in 2nd Chronicles 16:10. Was King Asa a good king or a bad king? Do you remember? He was a good king. One time a prophet came to him with a message that he did not appreciate and because of that it says he “was wroth with the seer, and put him in prison, for he was in a rage because of this” thing. He didn’t like being told he was wrong.

Kings don’t like that and Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time. Because he lost his temper and because of his anger he stopped being a good king and forever it tainted the glowing view we had of King Asa up to that point. 2nd Timothy 2:24 “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient.” These are the characteristics that advertise the spirit of Christ is in control. Colossians 3:8 “But now you also put off these.” Now when we come to the Lord we’ve got something on and one of the characteristics might be anger and here he is telling us to put it off. “Anger, wrath, malice” and he goes on to say, “blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” Have you noticed that anger often leads to filthy communication? You ever seen somebody lose their temper and then what follows? Swearing, yeah. One often leads to the other. Put these away from you. Christians can’t do that. Obviously that destroys our witness.

Not only that it can destroy your health. While there might be an appropriate physiological response with anger, people who live in an attitude of anger all the time usually don’t live as long. You know the Bible talks about a king who lost his health because he lost his temper. Did you know that? 2nd Chronicles 26:19. How many of you remember King Uzza? Was he a good king? Sometimes called Uzziah. Was he a good king? Good king. You’d probably want him to be an elder in your church, did a lot of building did a lot of good things. One day he made the mistake because of his pride. He went into the temple like King Saul. He took the prerogatives of the priests and he brought a censer in. He wanted to intercede for himself, and while he was in the temple the priests opposed him and said, “King, it’s not for you to do that. That’s the priests’ office. This is inappropriate.” And he thought, “How dare them tell me what to do! Why I’m the king!” And he lost his temper and the Bible says, 2nd Chronicles 26:19, “King Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead.”

Any of you ever seen a person’s face turn red when they’re angry, veins start to stand out. Well, this man got so angry that he broke out with leprosy. My point is made that it’s bad for your health to lose your temper. Think about that. If you were going to get leprosy every time you got angry would that help you control yourself? What is leprosy a symbol of? Sin, in the Bible. And if nothing else it spiritually leads to sickness, but it also, it can be bad for your health. Doctor Walter Canon describes some of the physiological symptoms of anger. Now we all know about the red face, the swollen neck veins, the clenched fist, the stumbling for words, but he did some research. He’s the Harvard University researcher and he said “respiration deepens with anger, the heart beats more rapidly, the arterial pressure rises, the blood is shifted from the stomach and intestines to the heart, the central nervous system and muscles. The processes of alimentary canal cease. Sugar is freed from the reserves of the liver and the spleen. It contracts and discharges its contents of concentrated corpuscles and adrenaline is secreted.

The angry person’s vision may also be blurred.” Don’t forget that. You don’t see clearly when you’re angry because the visual center of the brain and the cortex. How much is spent every year on antacids? Anger isn’t good for your health so if you’re not even thinking about eternal destinations think about just your health. You know I understand in Germany, in Bibenhausen, Germany they’ve got an old monastery where they’ve got a pair of locked deer horns, these big deer horns that were locked. You know how male deer start to spar with each other during the mating season and they are fighting and these horns were locked and the deer could not unlock them and they died because of their fighting with each other. A lot of people have not only lost their health they’ve lost their lives because of anger. Crime is committed because of anger. I’ll never forget a few years ago we got a phone call in the office. A lady asked if we would conduct a funeral for her baby.

It was about an eleven month old baby. She was nailing… she had been actually watching our TV programs and she was convicted that God still wanted us to keep the Ten Commandments. And she wanted to start going to church and this bothered her boyfriend she was living with because she was saying, “This isn’t appropriate for us to live together anymore.” And they were having frequent “debates” over this. She finally says, “I want to follow God,” and she was nailing the Ten Commandments on the wall in their little apartment. He took the hammer out of her hand in a rage and began to bludgeon her with the hammer. He knocked her unconscious and of course the baby started crying and then he started beating their baby, killed the baby, she woke up screaming. He went to finish her off. The neighbor at this point kicked the door in and shot the husband so she lost the baby, lost her husband because he flew into a rage. Demon possession is what happened. And it can lead to that.

I don’t think he did that every day. He probably had fits of anger that he just let them go and they take you farther each time. You know where there is abuse in families it doesn’t start on the first date, does it? Usually it might start with grabbing the wrist or giving a little shove and then it gets worse and worse and worse. It often ends in homicide. You can look at the statistics. Anger not only damages your health. It damages your brain. You are less intelligent when you’re angry. It will lower your IQ. Someone said, actually it was Thomas Kempas, “When anger enters the mind, wisdom departs.” Someone else said, “The less water in the pot the quicker it boils.” I like that one. I think that’s a German proverb. “The less water in the pot the quicker it boils.” Daniel 2:12, the Bible says Nebuchadnezzar became furious. He “was angry and very furious, and he gave command to destroy all the wise men in Babylon.” I think there’s a spiritual analogy there. When you lose your temper you’re destroying the wise men. You got it? When you lose the temper you’re destroying the wise men. Proverbs 14:17, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly.”

That’s simple enough. When we quickly lose our temper we do dumb things. Proverbs 14:29, “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding.” You notice it doesn’t say you never become angry. I’ll talk more about that, but “he who is slow to wrath has great understanding, he who is impulsive exalts folly” or foolishness. When a person reacts quickly it is usually a symbol of foolishness. The devil makes a monkey out of us often because when we can snap like that… Have you ever seen a person act like an idiot when they lose their temper? You know folks start smashing things, throwing dishes, and damaging things and the devil just makes fools out of us. In some of the legends of Sinbad there is a story that Sinbad and his sailors went to a deserted island and they were hungry and there were lots of coconuts in the trees but they couldn’t reach them.

;They were very tall coconut trees and they were thirsty and hungry and what they needed was up there but there were monkeys in the trees. So Sinbad and his sailors began to torment and taunt the monkeys and they tossed stones and they yelled at them and they threw sticks and the monkeys became so infuriated that they began to twist off and pluck the coconuts and hurl them down at the sailors. They got the monkeys to do their work for them by getting them mad and the devil has made monkeys out of a lot of us by putting us in situations where God gives us an opportunity to witness. When we fail the devil will take advantage of that and he will make fools out of us. Somebody became very upset with a bill collector and they wrote back and they said, “You’ve made me so think I can’t mad straight.” You ever had trouble finding words when you’re upset? I hope Karen doesn’t mind my sharing this story but one day, I think she was… you know, pastor’s wife she’s teaching Sabbath School and sometimes our own children need a little attention and the boys of course are named Stephen and Nathan and one day in a fit of frustration trying to call one of our sons.

I don’t remember which one of them it was. It was Nathan? She didn’t remember whether it was Stephen or Nathan. She said, “Satan, get over here!” And all the other teachers looked at her. It often leads to sin. Proverbs 29:22, “An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.” It’s very simple. One reason God wants us to have a grip on this is because as soon as we begin to lose our temper we invite the devil in which brings me to the next point. It really represents a temporary if nothing else demon possession. Have you ever seen a person say and do and behave a certain way when they lose their temper you would never expect them? And you know what always is the most shocking thing? The people who are normally, they seem so controlled and serene and then later you find these people have another side where they absolutely go ballistic and you think, “Whoa! Man! I never would have dreamed that this person would behave that way!”

Well, it wasn’t entirely that person. When we lose our tempers we give access to the devil and it’s often at least a temporary demonic possession. Proverbs 25:28, “Whoever has no rule over his spirit is like a city with the walls broken down,” a city without walls. What are walls for? Aren’t walls to keep the enemy out? Protection? When you have no walls… When you lose your temper you have no walls and the devil can come in. You got that? You are opening the way to the enemy when we lose control. Now while I’m going on I want to remember, I want to remind you that if you struggle with this as many of us do God can help you have control. Someone else said, “Remember you can’t save face if you lose your head.” And you… it’s so difficult sometimes to retract that behavior and the witness we destroy. Satan will implant in others his own characteristics. Revelation 12:12, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath.” Is the devil angry? Yes, because he knows that his time is short. Notice the devil’s anger is a selfish anger. He is not angry because God is not getting glory.

The devil is angry because his time is short. The difference between the wrath of God and the wrath of the enemy is God’s wrath springs from love. It springs from love whereas the devil’s wrath is a selfish wrath and if you ever become indignant or angry you need to ask yourself; is this because I’m worried about myself and my own glory or am I preoccupied with the glory of God? Which brings us to the next point. What is righteous indignation or righteous wrath? You’ve heard this phrase before. Did Jesus ever get angry? Then it’s not all bad. Let’s look at the few examples we’ve got where the Bible tells us he was angry. Mark 3:1-5 you find this story where there’s a man in the synagogue who has a withered hand and Jesus wants to heal him and there are some scribes and Pharisees there and he says, “Is it better to do good on the Sabbath day or evil?” And they won’t answer him anything. And the Bible says in verse five “when He looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts.” What was it that made him angry? Hard hearts and sometimes I’ve told my children one of the things that presses my buttons is when they are unkind to others.

I think that the Lord is the same way. When we are unkind, when we are hard-hearted and we wound others then it can make you angry. There is a certain righteous anger. You know just this last week of course was a memorial of September 11th and we saw some of the documentaries on the news and you could see in some of the leaders, the president and others, that after this attack in New York City and Pennsylvania at the Pentagon that there was the combination of grief and anger and that anger is appropriate. When innocent people and men, women, children, people just going to work are killed regardless of their political views, these were not military targets, it’s appropriate for there to be this response of anger and wanting to defend. And this is where the anger of Jesus came from. It’s against hard hearts. Matthew Henry said in his commentary, “If we would be angry we must be angry at nothing but sin and we should be jealous for the glory of God more than for any interest or reputation of our own. This is what made Jesus angry. The Bible tells us of course Moses came down the mountain. He had the Ten Commandments and the Bible says that when he saw the calf and the dancing Moses’ anger waxed hot and he cast the tables out of his hand and broke them beneath the mountain. Did God ever chastise Moses for losing his temper at that time? No.

When Moses murdered the Egyptian, you know, you never hear him being chastised then because he saw a task master beating a helpless slave. When God got after Moses was when Moses became angry for himself. “What’s the matter? You rebellious people! We’re so tired of you complaining. What do you want me to bring water out of the rock?” and he struck the rock when God told him to speak to the rock. I think he struck it twice. Isn’t that right? And so it was a whole different response, but when he came down the mountain and he broke the Commandments in this righteous fury because they had just promised to obey God and now they’re breaking every commandment before he even gets to the bottom of the mountain God said, “Moses, get two more tables of stone. Bring them back up.” It’s not that he approved of the anger but it was an appropriate response. I think the Bible tells about one of the priests took a javelin two people right in front of everybody in broad daylight one of the men who’s married by the way brings a Moabite whore into his tent and the Bible tells us that one of the priests couldn’t stand it any more. He took a javelin right into the tent and he shish-kabobed the two of them, and the Lord blessed that man for having that righteous anger, that priest. Because he said, “You know this is against the glory of God.”

He was concerned about God’s name not his own. And so there’s examples of this, of course you know where I’m going to go. What’s the most popular example people look at when they think about the anger of Jesus? When he’s in the temple. You know it never says he was angry? But it’s a good example. I think he was. John 2:14 “And He found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. And when He made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and he turned over the money changers’ tables and he said to those that sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’” Having a zeal for the glory of God and the holiness of God, that’s a response where you have an example of righteous indignation. Now what is it that causes anger? We’ve talked about some of the dangers. What makes you angry? I’m not going to ask you to tell me and I will not give you a list of all the possible causes of anger but here’s a few things. People become angry when they get frustrated. Even children, you ever seen a little baby you know they’re playing with their toy and they’re trying to put the square block in the round hole and they can’t get it to go in and you see them push and push and pretty soon they throw the toy across the room.

That’s a very basic response, but you ever seen this? It’s frustration. Some of us never grow out of that. How many of you have been trying to do something and you try to do it and you try to do it and you try to do it, you start getting angry? It’s happened to me. You’re shocked, I know. I’ll be sitting at my computer working on the sermon and the phone rings and they say, “Hello. Is Melvin there?” There you know pastors get a lot of phone calls. I’ve got Caller ID. I’ll just tell you right now. But I try as often as possible to answer the phone. I answer the phone. It’s a long conversation. I’ll hang it up. I’ll start working on… and you’re getting upset you know and here you are you’re working on the peace of God and you’re getting angry because you’re frustrated because you can’t get to what you’re doing. Your plans are frustrated so you get angry. So that’s one thing. Often people become angry when their pride is insulted. Now that covers quite a bit when you really evaluate it. In marriage so many arguments really have to do with pride. The Bible tells about Naaman, had leprosy. Elisha said through his servant, “Go wash in the Jordan River seven times and you’ll be clean.” “Who does he think I am? Here I’ve come to talk to the king and the king won’t see me and then they send me to this prophet. The prophet won’t come out and see me.

He sends out his servant and tells me to go wash in a muddy river seven times no less!” What does that imply? You’re really dirty. What was Naaman’s response to that? He was furious and he went away and he said, “I thought he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord and wave his hand over the place and recover the leper.” His pride was offended and he became angry. The Bible tells about the story in Luke chapter nine when the Samaritans did not invite Jesus to stay because he was on his way to worship at Jerusalem and the Samaritans said, “No, Mt. Garrisim is the place. If you’re on your way to Jerusalem then we’re not even giving you a hotel room. Just go on through.” And that made James and John so angry they said, “Lord, It’s in the Bible. God gave Elijah the power to burn people up. You just say the word. We’re going to call fire down from heaven and we’re going to burn these people up.” Was that the right response? Jesus said, “You don’t know what spirit you are of.” Well, there’s only two spirits, the Spirit of God and the spirit of the devil. What spirit were they of? Their pride was offended and so they wanted to retaliate. Is that why Elijah did it? No, if you read the story it’s an entirely different motive, but sometimes we become angry because someone has offended our pride.

Sometimes people become angry because of betrayal, jealousy. Matter of fact, even God demonstrates an aspect of that in the Bible. And those are just a few reasons. You could probably think of a lot of others. Sometimes we become angry because we’re tired, we’re hungry, low blood sugar and that can make you more prone to some of these responses. You know I was looking at the causes of anger in the Bible and I couldn’t help but notice something. There is a connection between wrath and worship. You normally wouldn’t pair those two words, would you? The first murder in the Bible, who was it that did that? Who inspired him to do it? The devil. Why did he become angry? Matter of fact, God says to him, “Why are you angry? If you do what’s right you’ll be accepted.” He became angry because his brother’s sacrifice was accepted and his was not. His pride was offended and it was over the issue of worship and he murdered his brother. He became infuriated and he murdered his brother. That’s not the only time. 1st Kings 19:2 Jezebel sent messengers to Elijah. Remember the showdown on Mt. Carmel with the two altars and she wants to have him killed because his worship was accepted by God and hers was not. How many of you remember the story? It’s not even in my notes but I remember Jeroboam had an alter and it was God told him, “Don’t build this alter. Worship at Jerusalem.” But he built this alter and he worshipped a golden calf and a prophet came and said, “This alter is going to be destroyed” and Jeroboam said, “Cease him!”

He became angry with the prophet. “How dare you tell me I’m not worshipping right?” You can also find in Daniel 3:20 when they did not bow down at Nebuchadnezzar’s statue and worship what was Nebuchadnezzar’s response? He “was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed towards Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” And “he spoke and commanded they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was” supposed to be “heated.” And he commanded them to be thrown in the furnace. What brought about that response? His anger. You can read in the Bible when the wise men came into Jerusalem and they said, “Where is the king of the Jews that we can worship him?” when King Herod heard that they were going to worship someone else the Bible says, “he was exceedingly angry” and he killed all the babies in Bethlehem. Why? Because he wanted the worship. And then of course you go to Revelation 12 and you know what the issue is between the wrath of the devil in the last days? “The dragon was enraged with the woman, and he” goes “to make war...” This is the battle of Armageddon. “…with the rest of her offspring,” with her seed and those “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.” The devil is wroth with those who worship God. That’s what the whole thing is. If you do not worship the beast in his image, and instead if you’re worshipping God you’ll have the wrath of the devil. Now cheer up! Everybody is going to make somebody mad. You can’t help it.

No matter where you are if there are people you’re not going to be able to please everybody and that’s just part of life. I think that God puts us in situations where we have the potential of becoming angry so that we can demonstrate the character of Christ. When does a Christian look the most like a Christian? When they look friendly and serene and controlled in church or when through trials they maintain Christian composure? You know one of the great Christians that I know, someone who inspired me was a gentleman named Jack Sherman, I don’t mind sharing his name, and I remember his wife telling me a story. She was just so amazed with her husband’s Christian response. He was involved in the book binding publishing work and a whole truckload of books had showed up and nobody was there to help him unload and he unloaded this whole truckload of books one thing at a time and the driver is telling him to hurry or something like this, and after he got it all unloaded by himself and the driver stood there and wouldn’t help because his back hurt then he looked at his invoice and said, “You know these books don’t go here. I am so sorry.

You have to load them back up.” And he very patiently loaded the whole truck one by one with these books again in little boxes and someone who was watching said, “I’ve never seen a person so controlled and pleasant with a circumstance that would make anyone else exasperated and angry.” You know there’s some people you keep calling and asking for Melvin, they’ll be nice every time, right? They’re very rare, but that’s when you demonstrate Christianity is when you’re going through circumstances where you should be annoyed and anyone else would become upset and you’re able to be nice. You’re able to be kind. You know I’ve watched this the many, many times that I’ve flown. Every now and then, almost on every flight, you’ll have passengers that are annoying, and I’m not so worried about me unless they’re sitting right next to me, but I watch the flight attendants and how they deal with them and you know some flight attendants act with the normal human response.

They put on their smile and they say, “Yes, sir. No, sir. You’d better get in your seat or you’re going to leave the plane.” And you can tell they’re being nice and professional but they’re mad. And then you see some passengers that are just absolutely obnoxious and rude and inconsiderate and they’re not listening and I’ve seen a couple of flight attendants who have seemed pleasant and genuinely kind and nice through the whole thing and I’ve pulled them aside afterward and I’ve said, “Are you a Christian?” “Well, yes, why do you ask?” “Oh, nothing.” You can just tell because the circumstances that would make other people lose it they demonstrate the behavior of Christ. This is going to be a test in the last days. What is it that controls us? Is it the Spirit of God or is it the spirit of the enemy? The Bible talks about the wine of wrath. You know there are two wines that are in the Bible.

There is the wine of the scarlet harlot there in Revelation and then there is wine of the wrath of God. Revelation chapter 14 “And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’” Force feeding people with her false teachings. “Then a third angel followed” and said, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or his hand” worshipping the beast trying to avoid the wrath of the beast “he will drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.” You can’t make everybody happy, friends, so you’ve got to make up your mind. Do you want the wrath of God on you or the wrath of the woman? If you’re smart you would never want a woman’s wrath, right? But no, not in this case. You don’t want the wrath of God because it is poured out without mixture.

You know what the mixture is? Often when God punishes us it’s mixed with mercy, gentleness. It’s redemptive. The wrath of God that is poured out on the wicked in the last days it’s not mixed with mercy. It’s unmixed because there is no redemptive value to the wrath that falls on the lost. They’re being rewarded for the way that they have unjustly treated his children. That’s why they’re calling out, “How long, Oh, Lord!” you know I was reading in history. I was doing a little research for an amazing fact and I guess the greatest volcanic eruption in modern times was Mount Tamboura, one of the many volcanoes in Indonesia that blew up in 1812, April 5th. The explosion was heard for about a thousand miles. I mean it was the kind of explosion that made your teeth hurt. How many of you ever heard this story? Smoke went forty kilometers up into the sky and a mass of tsunamis and tidal waves went everywhere.

Just within seconds ten thousand people on the island of Tamboura were exterminated. Ten thousand. They figure that from the volcano a hundred thousand people were killed. It’s the most destructive in regards to human loss of life in history, heard over much of the planet, and changed the whole atmosphere of the world during that year. The reason they say Mt. Tamboura blew is because it had additional pressure that continued to mount because as the magma underneath the earth was swelling the sea water came in and kept it from releasing and kept building a cap on it because it’s on a Pacific Island and it got bigger and bigger so when it finally did blow it really blew it’s top. A lot of people lose their cool because you know you don’t lose your temper often if you’ll communicate and have a pressure release valve and just let a little off every now and then, communicate and it doesn’t build like that. Paul talks about that.

He says in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 26, “Be angry and do not sin.” I kept wanting to make that say, “Do not sin and be angry,” but it doesn’t say that in the Bible. I even looked at several versions because I thought, “Does he really mean it’s okay to be angry?” It’s like commanding us to be angry but don’t sin. And you know I looked at all the versions and it says the same thing. It says “be angry but do not sin.” Did Paul ever demonstrate anger? Yes, he would become frustrated with those that would keep others from Christ. Matter of fact, the first time that the apostle Paul went from being called Saul to Paul, you know whenever they went out preaching it was Barnabas and Saul, Barnabas and Saul, and then one day it changed to Paul and Barnabas and he took the lead.

You know what made the difference? Paul lost his temper. Not really, but he became angry. He was preaching to someone, a governor and this sorcerer named Bar-Jesus was trying to turn him away and Paul finally, Barnabas was taking the lead and he stepped up and he said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness! Trying to prevent people from hearing the way of truth! Now you’re going to be blind and someone’s going to lead you by the hand because you’re putting other people in blindness.” I’m paraphrasing. And Paul became angry at someone that was keeping others from the truth. I was listening to a radio program that I will not mention by name. People call in Bible questions. Someone called in a Bible question yesterday asking about, they said, “You know I’m worshipping with the Seventh-day Adventist church.” And I perked up when I heard that. “What do you think about that?”

He said, “It’s new for me.” And he said, “Oh, that’s a cult! They believe everyone that goes to church on Sunday has the Mark of the Beast.” Do we believe that? And I thought, “Ooh!” That made me mad. I came storming in the house. I said, “Oh, I’m listening to this guy. He’s trying…” Oh, I wanted to, you know I wish I could go through the speaker and take him by the tie because it’s not true and he’s deceiving all these people. That angered me. “Be angry and sin not.” It is possible to have a righteous anger, but then he goes on to say, and “do not let the sun go down upon your wrath.” What that means is settle the accounts every day. Don’t go to bed mad. For one thing you don’t sleep very well. This is good advice for marriages. “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath.” Someone sleeps on the couch when that happens. You heard about the old couple? Been married fifty years and someone asked the gentlemen, “To what do you attribute your long, happy marriage?” And he said, “Well, we follow that scripture that says, ‘Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath.’ And we don’t go to sleep until we’ve settled our differences.”

He says, “There have been weeks when we haven’t slept.” James 1:19-20, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” He doesn’t say don’t have wrath but you need along fuse. “For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Did you get that? Human wrath, it’s one thing to have righteous spiritual wrath, but human wrath “does not produce the righteousness of God.” Proverbs 16:32, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that rules his spirit is stronger than he that takes a city.” Proverbs 19:11, “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” Proverbs 15:18, “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he that is slow…”

Did you catch this? “…slow to anger appeaseth strife.” You know, I was out working with a bulldozer this last week. It was great. I built a new pond and I’ll show you, but it started getting hot because we had some hot days a couple weeks ago. And you’re working out in the dirt and the sun and heavy equipment and I saw the temperature gage kept going up. And I took this solution and I put it in the radiator. Now it’s called antifreeze because it has a couple of functions. One function is it prevents the radiator and the block from freezing and cracking when the weather gets real cold, but antifreeze also lowers or raises, I should say, the boiling point so that it doesn’t get too hot too soon. The Holy Spirit is spiritual antifreeze. When you have God’s Spirit controlling your minds and your thoughts and when you commit your way unto the Lord every day he will help you to maintain composure and to lower the boiling point, the pressure release valve.

Slow to anger is how we witness for Christ. During the Civil War Lincoln had someone in his cabinet named Stanton who had become absolutely enraged, and he was known for having a bad temper, and he had become very upset with a colonel in the army and he went in to Lincoln one day. And Lincoln, you know, he sat down to listen. For one thing have you noticed that body language also effects… “A soft answer turns away wrath.” If you’re discussing something with somebody and you’re like that that’s something different than a posture of humility. “Soft answer turns away wrath.” “Grievous words stir up strife.” And this man came in Lincoln sat down, folded his hand, he listened. He stomped around, he steamed and he fumed and Lincoln said, “Well, you know, you ought to write him a letter.” “You think so?” “Yeah, you ought to write him a letter.” And he didn’t expect the president to say that because he had said some pretty cutting things.

He said, “Alright.” So he goes off and he spends two days writing a letter. He comes back to Lincoln and Lincoln reads it and he says, “That’s quite a letter.” He said, “Well, what do you want me to do?” He says, “Now I want you to throw it away.” He said, “What? Don’t you want me to mail it?” He said, “No,” he says, “Throw it away.” He says, “You’ve accomplished what you needed to do for that letter. You’ve expressed how you felt.” Any of you ever done this when you become upset? I tell you, friends, I’ve written some masterpieces I wish I could show you that I tore up or I pressed delete, and it was hard! Oh, I wanted to press send and instead I pressed delete. Karen has written some letters. Oh boy! But you don’t send them because “grievous words stir up strife.”

Sometimes you’ve just got to get it out and you know what you find that once you’ve processed your thinking you feel better. Some historian said that Julius Caesar when provoked would repeat the whole Roman alphabet before he allowed himself to speak. Thomas Jefferson read that and he counseled people that “if someone is angering you, count to ten before you respond.” Any of you ever heard that expression? Thomas Jefferson got that from Julius Caesar. So often because we’re impulsive we say things that we regret. The real secret, friends, is that we ask for God to give us his Spirit, that holy antifreeze to help us to have the spirit of Christ. When he was reviled he did not retaliate. Jesus, look at the way he was mistreated and how he responded because he never exhibited anger for the way he was treated. He said, “Father, forgive them.” And that’s when he was shining the brightest. As Christ has done for us, so we should be tenderhearted towards each other.

This is how people know we’re Christians, by having the spirit of Christ and the mind of Christ. The opposite of anger is meekness and that would be my appeal to you. God will put a peace in your heart. Some of us have been destroying our health with this anger and he wants us to have that wonderful peace that comes from the Holy Spirit. Would you like that peace, that peace that passes understanding? Then please turn in your hymnals to our closing hymn and that number is, someone help me, 466, Wonderful Peace. Let’s stand as we sing.

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight, Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm; In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls O’er my soul like an infinite calm. Peace! peace! wonderful peace, Coming down from the Father above; Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray, In fathomless billows of love.

Half the time whatever I say to you are really shadows of my own struggles. I struggle with anger, frustration, sometimes I’m angry with myself when I fail. Anyone else say amen to that? We get angry with other people. They offend our pride. We feel betrayed, neglected, get frustrated, and then we find ourselves advertising for the enemy. He makes a monkey out of us because circumstances, the devil is throwing sticks at us. These trials are opportunities to either reflect the character of Christ or advertise for the enemy. Oh, Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve been angry in the family, in public, sometimes driving down the road they cut you off! Inconsideration. But you know the Lord is offering us that peace. I like the words in this song. “Sweep over my spirit.” Peace that comes from the inside out, saturates every fiber of our being. Would you like that peace? If you’d like to pray. Some of you may struggle with anger and if you’d like the Lord to give you the victory that you can have that self-control that is evidence of his Spirit and you’d like special prayer, come as we sing the last verse. We’ll pray together.

Weary soul, without gladness or comfort or rest, Passing down the rough pathway of time! Make the Savior your friend ere the shadows grow dark; O accept of this peace so sublime. Peace! Peace! Wonderful peace, coming down from the Father above; Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray, In fathomless billows of love.

Amen. Father in Heaven, we are so thankful for the promise that Jesus the prince of peace is not only willing to walk with us but to dwell in us through the spirit of peace. Lord, please first of all forgive us for the times when we have demonstrated a short temper, we’ve have these tirades and raging rampages where we’ve just been a plaything of the devil. Forgive us. Lord, we know that all things are possible through Jesus. Help us to have his mind and his spirit. I pray that in everything we say and everything we do we can be controlled by your spirit and if we ever are angry I pray that it’s the anger that you can bless, a righteous, pure, holy indignation, angry for your glory and your cause. Be with us, Lord, that we can be your representatives. Fill us with this peace we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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