“That’s My Secret–I’m Always Angry”

There is a scene in the the first Avenger’s movie where a giant alien is about to crash into the good guys. Just as the alien is coming in, Bruce Banner (the human version of the Hulk) steps forward, setting himself between the other good guys and the alien that will kill them all.

“Dr. Banner,” Captain America says, “Now might be a really good time for you to get angry,” because only the Hulk could save them from the alien.

Bruce Banner turns and, with a slight grin on his face, says, “That’s my secret, Cap. I’m always angry.”

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Anger is one of the strongest emotions in the world. In moments of weakness, it has caused many people to do things that they later regretted. I think there are many people who live their lives with anger constantly simmering under the surface. This anger may rarely boil over, but it has killed their joy, damaged their relationships, hurt their lives, and ruined their relationship with God. This passage describes anger in several ways:

  1. Slaves to various passions and pleasures – Being a slave to anyone or anything is a terrifying idea, but when the master is a desire or feeling that is constantly within you, slavery is even more hopeless. The inability to control one’s anger (in action and words or thoughts and desires) makes us slaves, even if it is only for a few seconds.
  2. Passing our days in malice and envy – This is such a depressing epitaph to a life. I don’t want my life to be known for the many fights and bitterness that I experienced and caused in others.
  3. Hated by others and hating one another – I once went to a funeral for an old man. Six people showed up: his daughter, his daughter’s husband, his daughter’s two children, me, and the officiating pastor. He was a man who was known for bitterness and anger for the last 20 years of his life, so much so that his friends and relatives did not come to his funeral. Hatred, or manipulation, or bitterness, is a sad way to live life.

SEEING THROUGH THEIR EYES

Anger is often a secondary emotion, or a reactionary emotion. It is typically not primary. We normally get angry because we didn’t get what we want. These desires can be for many things: 1) control or power 2) respect, appreciation, or love 3) money, physical possessions, etc.  Angry people often say things like, “It’s not fair” or “I can never get what I want” or “No one likes me” or “No one listens to me” or “I just want this one thing.”

The first thing anger does, without us even knowing, is that it makes us less sympathetic and more me-focused. It steals our ability to be aware about how our words and actions are impacting others. Angry people are typically ignorant of other’s perception of them and singly-focused on what they want.

Anger typically has one of two motivations: revenge or convenience. Revenge is a pretty obvious motivation for anger–simply wanting to hurt someone else because of something they did to us. But, in my opinion, revenge is not nearly as common a motivation for anger as convenience. Most people have learned from childhood that if they throw a tantrum, they get what they want. We are more sophisticated when we get older, but we still throw tantrums. We might cry, or yell, or throw things, or give the cold shoulder, or become domineering, or become irritable, or become physically abusive, but typically as soon as we get what we want, our tantrums subside. Without knowing it, we have communicated that what we want is more important than the relationship, because we are willing to sacrifice the relationship to get what we want, instead of sacrificing what we want for the sake of our relationship.

SEEING ANGER THROUGH GOD’S EYES

Matthew 5:21-22 You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 

In Jesus’ eyes, anger and verbal insults were as bad as murder. Why is this? Because they both have the same heart sin. Anger is like a tree with different colors and sizes of fruit. Anger is the root system and the trunk, but the fruit could take different shapes and sizes. The fruit might be bitterness, hatred, envy, jealousy, verbal insults, physical abuse, slander, yelling, lying, clamoring, or murder. All of these fruit fall from the same type of tree: anger.

Anger is never alone, either. It always brings a thousand other sins with it, like idolatry (James 4:1-11), pride (Philippians 2:3), selfishness (Philippians 2:4), and foolishness (Proverbs 19:3).

THE GOSPEL AND ANGER

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

 “Were once” are the key words from this last verse. The fundamental transformation that needs to happen is an identity shift. This starts by admitting who are without Christ. With God’s forgiveness, we fools in our sins, easily enslaved by our passions, simply passing time through discord with others, having the reputation of hatred for or by others. Not only are our sins depressing and damaging to our lives, but they are an insult against God’s law. This insurrection against our Creator is punishable by death, eternal death in hell.

Titus 3:4-8 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

 Jesus Christ embodied an olive branch that was offered to us. On the cross, our punishment was paid in full and God offers adopting us into his family. He does not give his salvation away to those who earn it by good works, but to those who simply trust in his forgiveness through Christ.

This is a new reality of life for us. We were angry, but we are now loved. We were slaves to our passions, but now we are children of God. We were living our lives in hatred, but now “we love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

APPLICATION

Because anger can take many different forms, we need to repent of different types of anger in different ways. Here is a list of some “fruit” of anger and the direct ways that we can replace the bad fruit with good fruit.

  • Anger in the Heart
    • Not control, but surrender (Romans 6:12-14)
    • Not joy in earthly pleasures, but joy in God (Hebrews 11:24-26, Psalm 16:11)
    • Not being loved and accepted by the world, but loved and accepted by God (Romans 5:5)
    • Not pride, but humility (James 4:6-11)
    • Not selfishness, but love (Colossians 3:12)
    • Not revenge, but mercy and grace (Ephesians 4:32)
    • Not misunderstanding, but sympathy (Hebrews 4:14-16)
  • Anger in Words
    • Not corrupt communications, but building communication (Ephesians 4:31)
    • Not clamoring (yelling), but soft answers (Proverbs 15:1)
    • Not arguing to convince, but talking with to meet (Philippians 2:1-2)
    • Not lying, but honesty (Ephesians 4:25)
    • Not being unreasonable, but open to reason (James 3:14-21)
  • Anger in Actions
    • Not manipulation for selfish desires, but sacrifice for others (1 John 3:16-18)
    • Not bossiness for selfish desires, but service for others (Philippians 2:3)
    • Not withdrawal or stonewalling, but connecting with others (Philippians 4:2-3)
    • No physical abuse, but sacrifice ourselves for others (Philippians 2:4)