Proud men …. are not angry men (2)
In the last blog we discussed Paul and Silas being in prison and how they reacted to this treatment. If you did not read, please go through the previous blog quickly so that you have the full background to this blog.
We said in the previous blog that they (Paul and Silas) could control their anger because of a few simple things:
They did not see themselves as more important than any other person and thus did not expect special treatment. People have acted unfairly to others before and will again, and there is no reason why it should not happen to them as well.
They believed that God will ensure justice, that He will make sure that what has to happen, will. They believed He is in control no matter what is happening around them and to them.
Because they accepted that they are not more special than others and He is in control, they could give control of their feelings over to Him and allow Him to control their behaviour.
So what happened after this?
The earth shook and the chains fell off their arms and ankles and the prison doors opened. They were free to go..........yet they did not leave the prison.
Because they knew that the jailor would be judged and thrown in prison if they escape. So they stayed, even though the chains were off.
To understand this, we need to understand that they:
were not selfish and did not wish their own release at the expense of someone else
did not want the jailor to be punished (as he would have been) unfairly, should they just leave (escape)
they believed that their fate was under God's control
they realised that they should forgive the jailor for how he treated them and not reciprocate by acting poorly towards him.
Can we look at these four issues in a bit more detail?
Have a good re-think about every time you had lost control to anger in the past. How many times would you say the anger was a result of your own selfishness?
I did not get what I wanted.
I felt done in by others that should have protected ME and instead stole from ME ?
They took MY job and promotion from ME that I should have been given?
MY car was not cleaned like I wanted it done.
They did not agree with ME on a certain issue as I think they should have.
You get the picture?
Read Gen 4: 1 -1 4.
Its about Cain slaying Able. Cain did not bring sacrifices in the manner God required and thus received no blessing from God. God told him that if he (Cain) would change his ways, He (God) would again bless him. Yet Cain refused. He just became more and more angry about what he believed is injustice towards himself. The selfish anger ended in …….…… MURDER, when he killed his brother.
Look for selfishness in your actions by always putting yourself in the other person’s place and see whether the situation looks different from his side . And when you recognise it, give him credit for his actions rather than getting angry at him.
When you take a few moments to do this, the situation may not change completely, but it may provide sufficient time for you to be able to control your anger and your response to it.
2. Injustice / unfairness
Injustice can get our anger burning red hot, and very quickly.
If the injustice is towards yourself, revisit the ‘selfishness’ section above again
If the injustice is towards other people around you, remember that managing your anger does not make the injustice acceptable, it is still just ‘wrong’, but it does mean we manage how we respond to what is wrong.
Paul and Silas accepted the unfair treatment, not because they liked it, but because they trusted God to be just towards them. Be assured, justice will eventually be served. Just not by you, but certainly by God. God, the Righteous One, will serve justice on all unjust people at His discretion and according to His timing. This you must accept and believe.
If you doubt this, answer the following questions from history:
Is Hitler still in control? No.
Is Idi Amin still Uganda’s President? No.
Is Jacob Zuma still our President? No.
Are the dishonest in our country being investigated and stripped of all they have stolen? Yes.
God will serve justice on each person, as that person had lived his life. We should not do that for Him. Let us trust Him !
Rom 12:19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ’it is Mine to revenge, I will repay’ says the Lord.
Ps 89:15 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne, love and faithfulness go before You.
Do not let injustice anger you.
Do what you can to set it right: pray, talk, convince, teach, reason and wait. But do not take revenge. Once you have done what you can, leave it to Him and accept whatever He deems to be the appropriate response.
God’s justice will be served.
3. Uncontrollable situations
Things happen that are outside our control. Most often we feel helpless to do anything about it. This frustration of being helpless often change into anger very easily. We have to step back and realise that NOTHING is under our control, but ALL is under God’s control.
Isiah 14:24 The Lord Almighty have sworn: ‘surely as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen’.
When we understand and believe this, the frustration of helplessness will not rise again because God is in control and He is on my side.
Rom 8:31 What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Why will I then allow anything that happens to upset me?
Just as Paul and Silas, who must have felt that things were out of control, we should submit to God and trust Him.
We live in a world in which we have many relationships. Relationships with friends, family, children, parents, bosses, employees. Any of these can have instances where one person hurts the other. When this hurt is not handled well, it ends up in anger towards the guilty person. To fight this anger, forgiveness is required.
Paul and Silas did not leave the prison, they did not want to bring the jailor in trouble. They forgave him for how he had treated them and decided to be fair towards him.
Mat 18:21-35 Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister that sinned against me? Up to 7 times? Jesus answered: ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-times-seven’.
Why is this so important?
A few reasons, but the most important in terms of our discussion is the fact that unforgiveness keeps the innocent one, but the one who does not forgive, captive. This whilst the guilty person is free and does not give any thought to the other. This captivity will lead to frustration, frustration into anger and anger into retaliation. And we have already established that revenge belong to God alone.
When I forgive someone else, the result of the forgiveness is that I am set free, that I am free of anger.
If Paul and Silas could, within the situation they were in, manage to not fall into selfish actions, accept that God is in control, that He will ensure justice and that He wanted them not to retaliate against people for what was done to them, then surely we can as well?
If you find your anger building up, take a moment before you react (or count to 10 as we were so wisely taught by our parents), and then:
identify the reason for the anger (selfishness, injustice, out of your control, unforgiveness)
think about what you know about God (He hates selfishness, He will ensure justice, He is in control, He wants you to be free of unforgiveness)
apply what you know about Him to the situation.
And before you realise, the need to be angry will have passed.
And we believe, before long, we will look around us and no more see angry men, even in the face of difficult situations, but men that will be unselfish, that trust in God and that forgive……..
just like Christ who
gave His life in an unselfish act,
accepted His unjust death,
trusted God (even to death) and believed Him to be in control despite the situation,
that forgave those who killed Him and
who did not get angry