Ouch. ouch. ouch.


I may have to find another church to attend. 

Or start wearing steel toed shoes. 

Maybe that’s what I will do as I do love our church. 

But seriously. 

This Sermon on the Mount series is painful. 

And since misery loves company and I am not sure you will bother to listen to it yourself, and since I need to reinforce this one in my thick head which is firmly attached to a neck as stiff as the best of the Israelites after they crossed the Red Sea….we are going to endure a recap of it together. 


This week our Pastor Brian discussed what Jesus has to say about anger. I will start and end with this reminder that he shares repeatedly – everything Jesus teaches, He also comes into us through the power of the Holy Spirit to help us DO THE THING. 

That is so important to remember as it is the factor that gives me hope. 

The shortest and, up to this point in my journey, most effective sermon I have had on anger was from a pastor many years ago. In conversation with him, I mentioned I had inherited my father’s temper. 

He replied that you can’t inherit a temper, you learn it and I needed to figure out how to unlearn it. 

That helped immensely and yes, I needed Jesus to do the heavy lifting, but that can only take a girl so far.

The sermon on Sunday has been like hopping a trolley that is going to take me even farther along to the higher ground I seek to live on. 

Brian started out reminding us that many people who listened to Jesus in the actual time and culture in which He spoke what we have as Scripture were wondering if He came to abolish all that the prophets and the Law had set up as their rules and regulations for living a righteous life. 

Jesus assured them that He had not come to abolish these but to fulfill them. For clarity, Brian said that Jesus still calls for the same Laws God gave us but He gives us a better understanding of what those Laws actually mean and He helps us do them. 

It is the difference between doing the right thing to look good and being right-hearted so that what we do is good. 

As I have heard before and still struggle with not feeling guilty about the fact I experience it in my heart, the emotion of anger is not a sin. Brian used the text from Paul to validate this in Ephesians 4:26 when he teaches us to not sin in our anger. 

It is clear that we will be angry, but in that, we are not to sin. 

So what do we do with anger so that we don’t sin? Especially for someone like me who is trying to unlearn the habit of outbursts of anger as a natural result of being frustrated.

Brian quoted St. Augustine who said that anger is like smoke from a fire. Something is in us that is burning and the anger is the sign of this. 

He also used James 4: 1-2

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.

I picture our three precious grandsons arguing over the game controllers or the Monopoly board or if they should play basketball or football out front and the mayhem that can ensue. They don’t “kill” but their anger is strong and name calling and malcontent towards each other, according to God is the same as murder. 

But before you think I was thinking, wow…this is a sermon the boys need to hear, remember…I am considering leaving my church if I can’t find steel toed shoes. 

It was ME the words of this sermon convicted as Brian continued on. 

He talked about a variety of situations – work, family, church, traffic – where an individual gets so upset they lose their temper. And then he asked what the common denominator would be…and it is…me

I am the common denominator in every situation where I lose my temper or get so angry I can’t control my behavior, thoughts, words, etc.

He reminded us that no one can “make us mad.” They can (and will) behave in ways that trigger us but remember the smoke and fire? There is something inside of us that is set on fire and the anger is the smoke. 

The best example he gave for me is his own face off with one of his children aged three. As he was losing his cool, the reality that he was basically asking a three year old to change his behavior so that he, as the adult, would not lose control of his temper struck him. 

He said it this way, he realized he was basically telling the child – “I can’t control myself, so I need you do something different so that I don’t lose my temper.”

I am seriously thinking of having that tattooed on my hand so I can look at it every day to remind me of how ridiculous that is and yet, it exactly describes me in every situation where I can not stop my heart from racing and the anger boiling up inside me. 

From here, Brian went back to the passage in James for more help for us. 

Notice that the anger James is talking about is fueled by something inside of us that knows we can’t have what we want. 

We want control of how others control themselves. 

I look at the scene with the brothers above and think how their arguing sets me off. I get angry and frustrated that they can’t just play together. 

I look inside myself and see that I strongly hate conflict.

I grew up in an angry home and anger was the answer to frustration. The volatile nature of anger scared me as a child and I don’t want our children or our grandchildren to live this way. I want everyone to get along all the time. 

And I can’t have it. 

So, ironically, I get angry and I yell louder than they did. 

A vicious cycle because I am afraid of conflict.

And the fear is sticks and tinder waiting for an outside situation to spark the fire. My anger rises like smoke and instead of recognizing that smoke as a warning to me that something is amiss inside of me, I cry out for others to change so that I can exist in peace. 

What to do to break the cycle?

First is recognizing that when I am angry, there is something that is beyond my control that I want to be within my control. There is something I want (and it may a good thing) that I do not have. 

Next, I need to go to God first. I need to tell Him what He knows…I am experiencing the emotion of anger and I need help to close the door on the devil getting involved in my weakened state. 

For me, I think I would want to tell God exactly what it is I want that I don’t have and then ask Him to help me move forward without in ways that honor Him and doesn’t leave anyone bloodied and scarred in the aftermath. 

Including me. 

I loved the ending of the sermon. Brian pointed out the verse about not letting the sun go down on our anger and he explained it in simpler terms. 

Keep short accounts. 

Oh mercy. 

That is a work that can be done before the next can of gasoline and a lit match are thrown into my weary soul. 

I tend to keep long accounts. 

Not just for my own wounds, but when someone has wounded someone I love. 

I need to go through those as they pop up and cancel them the way Jesus has canceled my debts. 

Whew…I am exhausted in a good way going over this again. 

I will be chewing on this sermon and those verses all week. 

I am crying just remembering what good words these were and I am so very thankful for grace. 

Remember how we started?

What He teaches, He also comes alongside and helps us to do. Remind yourself of this frequently.

Blessings friends. 

If you want to hear this sermon on your own time, here is the link https://www.firstdecatur.org/messages/the-best-sermon-ever/ and you will have to give it a couple days to be loaded onto the site. Hope that doesn’t make you…mad <3

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