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Message Monday: Finish Strong – Mismanaging Our Anger (Judges 15:01-08)

07 May

angerIntro:

  • One of my favorite television shows is called King of the Hill.
  • About a small town propane salesman name Hank Hill who loves his family, hangs out in the alley with his friends, and mows his lawn, King of the Hill appealed to me because it so often hit close to home.
  • In one particular episode, Hank falls through his kitchen floor because his friend and neighbor Dale tunneled under his house.
    • The city inspector then condemns the house as unfit due to the tunneling.
    • Understandably upset, Hank begins the repair of his home when Dale will not stop pestering him and inadvertently puts his finger in the path of Hank’s circular saw.
    • After receiving medical care Dale takes Hank to court and has him banned from repairing his house until he has received anger management classes.
    • In the end on the day Hank graduate from anger management class, he must save his friends whose tunnel under the alley was about to be collapsed by a garbage truck.
  • In perhaps the most memorable line from the episode Hank says “I don’t have an anger problem, I have an idiot problem.”

Hook:

  • While Hank may be right about his TV situation, how many of us echo Hank’s sentiment?
  • Our anger is not our fault, it is the fault of those around us.
  • The angrier we are, the easier it is to forget that we may not be able to control the response of others, but we can control our own response.
  • Though we may immediately regret our words and actions, I can tell you from my own experience that regret does not erase harsh words and deeds.
  • Asking forgiveness may give us a place to start anew, but the consequences of our angry actions linger.
  • Today my hope is to encourage us to avoid mismanaging our anger by helping us to remember two very important methods to be angry and not sin.

Message Points:

  • Perhaps the best place to start is to understand that anger is not a sin .
    • Anger is an emotion, naturally produced in our bodies to which we must respond.
    • Paul quotes Psalm 4:4 in Ephesians 4:26 saying “Be angry and do not sin”. Had anger been a sin the psalmist and Paul would have said “do not be angry.”
    • There are times when not being angry displays a callousness towards the pain or suffering of others. For instance, our hearts should burn when we see people abused or mistreated. We should be angry when we hear people berate our God. The presence of sin and suffering in the world should anger us. Unemotional Callousness towards such situations is sinful.
    • But just as problematic and more common common are those times when we mismanage our response to anger. Depending on the type of person we are, our response can explode into rage or implode into bitterness.
  • In these first eight verses of chapter 15 Samson provides us with a negative example, and example of what not to do.
    • Notice in these verses we do not read of the Spirit of the Lord coming upon Samson to further the deliverance of Israel.
    • This is all Samson’s response, apart from God’s supernatural influence.
    • Rather than rightly experiencing anger and carefully choosing how to respond, Samson explodes in anger.
  • And it all begins as Samson, finally cooled down from the fiasco of a wedding in chapter 14 comes to consummate the marriage to his Philistine fiancé.
    • Samson’s departure early in the spring, and return at the time of the wheat harvest around the end of May was never intended to communicate that he rejected his fiancé.
    • The gift he brings in verse 15:1 of a young goat was brought in an attempt to make up for any hurt feelings. One commentator (Boling) says this was equivalent to a ancient box of chocolates.
    • But his would be father-in-law stops him and announces that he thought Samson hated his daughter.
      • Thus he already married her off to another man from the wedding party.
      • To try to avoid disaster the would be father-in-law offers his younger daughter to Samson.
    • Treating women as objects to be traded should anger us, but apparently Samson is more angry that someone he perceived as his had been taken from him.
      • Samson proclaims he has a right to get even with the Timnite Philistines and that he will really harm them.
      • His potential fruitfulness was taken from him, so he will attack the fruitfulness of the Philistines.
      • The wheat ready to harvest and vineyards was Samson’s aim. He captures foxes or jackals and somehow ties their tails together with a torch in the middle.
      • To use human dominion over God’s creatures to injure them and transform them into unwilling weapons of war should anger us, but to Samson, with every torch he lit and pair of foxes he released he felt justified.
      • The guerilla tactics in Samson’s undeclared war which destroyed grain and grapes rather than drive out the Philistines as God had called Samson to do in 13:5 should upset us, but instead they emboldened Samson.
  • This leads us to consider our 1st Point: When we have a right to be angry we can mismanage our response (15:1-5)
    • Let’s deal with the first part of that point. We have a right to be angry when we encounter the disparity between God’s perfect plan and life in this fallen world.
      • Samson’s future was taken away from him. His fruitfulness was stolen. He was faced with an occasion to realize that life in the fallen world was far different from God’s perfect plan.
      • Consider for a moment a young couple that discovers for whatever reason that they are infertile. Infertility may give them the occasion to be angry.
      • Another family wakes up to discover that dad who was travelling for work has been killed in a horrible car accident. He was struck by a drunk driver. Drunk driving gives them the occasion to be angry.
      • A husband and father has worked for years to ensure his retirement, but the indebted company sells out to another outfit which uses legal maneuvers to take away the retirement pensions to pay off debts. A stolen retirement gives the occasion to be angry.
      • A church that thrived in a Christian neighborhood realizes that the neighborhood and people in it have changed. The post-Christian millennial generation has all new interests, and church members have no basis for natural friendships based on shared interests. Evangelistic low hanging fruit has disappeared and all that remains is the hard work of building relationships. The changing neighborhood gives the occasion to be angry.
    • Now let’s consider the rest of the point. A mismanage response is one that blinds us to the hope we have in our God.
      • Samson could not see that God’s hand was in his failed marriage. Samson could not see that God was working to help him fulfill his calling. All Samson could see was taking matters into his own hands.
      • Our hope in God is a multi-faceted gem in a setting that assures the goodness of God.
        • Samson could easily have remembered Genesis 50:20 in which Joseph declared to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
          • We can have hope in horrible situations because God’s intentions for us are always good.
          • Paul echoes that sentiment in Romans 8:28 when he says “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
          • As believers we can bless others even though they have not blessed us.
        • As if that were not enough, the goodness of God demands that He ultimately and fully judge the wrongdoing of every person.
          • When we feel that human attempts at justice pale in comparison to what someone actually deserves, our hope in God’s goodness allows us to rest in the knowledge of his ultimate justice.
          • Again Paul says in Romans 12:19, “beloved never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'” (see also Deuteronomy 32:35)
          • As believers Paul encourages us in Romans 12:20 to live showing kindness and generosity to those who wrong us, confounding them with heaping coals of kindness, all the while resting in God’s final judgement.
          • This is why Christians can forgive and show kindness even in the horror of a church shooting like that in Charleston. We know that God’s judgment awaits every person.
        • Further, our hope in God’s goodness also extends to our own wrongdoing.
          • It is God’s goodness that provides a plan for every sinner including you and me.
          • We have hope because as a good God, the Lord provides both mercy and justice; grace and wrath.
          • For those who trust him, the justice and wrath of God were poured out upon Jesus on the cross. We receive mercy and grace while Jesus on our behalf received justice and wrath.
          • Those who do not trust God will face justice and wrath on their won.
      • Friends remember the hope we have in God, because of his goodness so that you will not blindly mismanage your response to anger.
      • Samson mismanaged response to anger blinded him and escalated the conflict.
  • So we come to our 2nd point: A mismanaged response to anger insists on revenge, not resolving the conflict.
    • The next three verses show put on display how a mismanaged anger escalates conflict.
      • In verse six the Philistines as a whole people seek their own form of justice.
        • They agreed had been wronged by his would be father-in-law they punished the father-in-law. Notice that in verse six, they call Samson the Timnite’s son-in-law, recognizing his claim.
        • Even so, instead of restoring to him his would be bride, the Philistiens torch the Timnite’s home and burn the family
        • All of this may have been to placate Samson, but it has the ring of official human justice.
      • Verse seven then portrays Samson hearing about their justice and vowing to now have his justice upon them.
      • Verse eight shows Samson’s escalation of the conflict, now taking their lives and hiding from them in the nearby caves.
        • The literal rendering of his ferocity is that he “struck them leg upon thigh with a great striking.”
        • Translating this phrase as viciously is acceptable, but just as he tore apart the lion in chapter 14, apparently now he is tearing apart people indiscriminately.
        • God called Samson to drive out the Philistines.
          • In most other place in Judges this meant calling up the nation of Israel to declare war and attack the enemy army.
          • While individuals may have acted separate from the Israelite army as with Ehud in Judges 3, calling the nation to officially drive out the enemy was in view.
          • Far from calling the nation to war, Samson chooses instead to be a one-man army.
        • Perhaps realizing the seriousness of his actions, but certainly recognizing that he had escalated his conflict, Samson retreats into hiding.
    • Friends, too often do you choose to attack your problems all by yourself instead of calling upon others to help.
      • We can do this by chewing someone out so that we will “feel better” just as easily as we can hate someone so intensely that it is as if they are dead to us.
      • God’s way of managing anger and our problems is very different.
      • That same passage in Ephesians 4 where Paul tells us to “be angry and not sin” Paul continues in the following verses, especially verse 32 to tell us how to manage and resolve our anger.
        • God called Samson to drive out the Philistines, but God calls us to drive out sinful responses in Ephesians 4:31.
          • This is like declaring war upon a poor response to anger.
          • It is not ignoring the situation that provoked us, but it is not merely choosing to explode or implode.
        • Then God tells us to put kind, tender-hearts that are ready to forgive just as God in Christ forgave us.
          • If we have forgiving hearts, that means that when someone hurts us we will go to them, tell them, and make sure that they know we want to forgive them.
          • That is exactly what God in Christ did for us. We hurt God with our choice to rebel against his goodness and choose our own selfish way. But Jesus came to us, told us of the hurt, and proved his willingness to forgive us by dying in our place.

Conclusion:

  • Friends I know that Hank Hill’s quote fits me more than I would like. He said, “I don’t have an anger problem, I have an idiot problem.”
  • The more and more I think about the times that I explode in anger, I realize that statement is so true of me. The only difference is that Hank was talking about his friends. I have to say that the idiot too often is me.
    • I attack the people I love, or the superficial problems when the real issue is the depravity of my own heart.
    • Can you identify with that? Are you tired of responding poorly to anger?
    • Today look to Jesus and decide to put on a heart tender and begin to experience his forgiveness, goodness, and better way of managing anger.
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Posted by on May 7, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

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