Slow to Anger

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Proverbs | June 2 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
June 2
Slow to Anger | Proverbs
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, may that be our prayer and the resounding theme of our hearts, hosanna in the highest. We ask now that you would give us ears to hear as we turn attention to Your Word and You would speak to us, and that we may encounter the risen and ascended Christ as He speaks to us by His spirit, through this Word, for our good, and for His glory. We pray in His name. Amen.

I invite you to turn in your Bibles, the middle of your Bibles to the book of Proverbs. We are going to look at several different proverbs this morning, and I anticipate that’s how each of these weeks will go. And some weeks may be a particular text or section, but most often we will look at several proverbs around a given theme, and it makes sense that we would start this morning in chapter 1 to at least orient you to this book. Many of you have studied it before, but it is a different sort of book and we ought to anticipate it being different and study it differently than say we would Exodus or John’s Gospel.

You see at the very beginning in chapter 1, verse 1, the proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel. The primary author is Solomon. Portions of the book seem to be from others, so either he was the editor of the piece, or the book is attributed to him because he authored the majority of the proverbs and someone later compiled them, but he is mainly the one to whom these are ascribed.

There is a basic outline. There is some method to the madness. It may look like just haphazard sayings over the course of 31 chapters, but after an introduction in the first seven verses, you have the father’s instructions in chapter 1, verse 8, through chapter 9. And then in chapters 10 through 22, that big section in the middle are filled with Solomon’s proverbs. And then following chapter 25 to chapter 29 you have Solomon’s proverbs as collected by Hezekiah’s men. And then chapter 30 the sayings of Agur, chapter 31 the first half the sayings of King Lemuel, and then famously the very end, chapter 31, is that acrostic to that excellent woman, that godly Proverbs 31 woman and wife.

You see from the beginning, look at verses 2 and 3, the purpose of the proverbs. There are two goals. So first, to know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight. And then the second goal is to receive instruction in wise dealing and righteousness, justice, and equity. So you might say the first goal is to understand how the world works. This is how things happen. This is how things go when you behave this way as a wise person, this is how things generally happen for you if you are a fool. To understand how the world works and then second you could say to understand how to live. So there is a practical, ethical bent. We aren’t just giving sort of broad maxims about the world, but it is directed towards people that they might live a certain way.

Look at verse 4 and 5. Two groups are in mind. First, to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth. Sorry to say there, but the two are used in parallel because often the youth are the ones who are simple. The youth are the ones who are not yet wise, have not learned these things, are not mature. So it is to help people avoid silly, dumb mistakes. To not act like youth all the time. And to have the youth act older than their years.

And then the second group, verse 5: “Let the wise hear.” So this is directed not only to those who may not yet have acquired wisdom, but also to those who are wise that they may increase in their learning. So no one has arrived. This is not a book just for fools, but it is a book for all of us.

To state the obvious, proverbs is about wisdom. How to spot wisdom, how to get wisdom, how to live according to wisdom. Wisdom is not so much an intellectual category as it is a moral category. We all know very dumb smart people. They have lots of degrees. They do well on tests. They can answer Trivial Pursuit questions and you would not want to put them in charge of anything. They are dumb smart people. Hopefully, that’s not what we are shaping here and that’s not what we are shaping with our school. You know how to take tests, but do you know how to talk to people? You know how to write sentences, maybe, but do you know how to control your tongue?

You know, when you take those standardized tests and they come back and they, they tell you, you take them in fourth grade and they say you’re reading is at a sixth grade level, and you math is at an eighth grade level, and some of us take the test of life and though it may say your prosperity is at a superior level, and your intellect is at a senior level when you are only in middle school, yet your wisdom is as a second grader.

Some people have twelfth grade intelligence, fourth grade wisdom.

Some of the most dangerous people in the world, or in the church for that matter, are people who have lots of smarts and very little wisdom. It is like a 5-year-old flying a fighter jet. Wow, that must be a smart 5-year-old, to be flying a fighter jet. Brilliant young little boy or girl. And yet, even if he or she had the skills to fly the jet, to drive the tank, to man the Apache helicopter, you would say, I hope, bad idea. We want someone not only who may have the technical proficiency, the intellectual acumen, but is wise, mature.

I don’t have to tell you that we live in a world awash with information. This is not an exaggeration. We have, there has never been a time in the history of the world where we have access to more information. That is abundantly true. The greatest libraries of the ancient world, from Rome or Alexandria, did not have the information that many of you have if your pockets right now, and I hope you will not look at for the next, mmm, 40 minutes.

You want to know something? [sound effect] There it is. This morning I googled “how to get an opossum out of your garage.” [laughter] What were you doing on the way to church? We had several children with nets in our garage trying to find an opossum. So if you want one, stop by. [laughter] He is currently in our garage.

You can know anything you want to know, but your phone cannot make you wise. In fact, it often makes you the opposite. We have lots of information, little wisdom.

And verse 7 tells us the one indispensable requirement for gaining wisdom: The fear of the Lord.

So this life that Proverbs lays out, the good life, the moral life, it starts with humility before God. The fear of the Lord can mean reverence before God, awe before God. It can also be shorthand for personal piety, for true religion. Verse 7 means the way of Yahweh is the way to live rightly.

How do we interpret Proverbs. As I said, it is a book that is different than other books. And hopefully you know, when you study your Bible, you interpret the law different than you might read the histories or the gospels or a Pauline epistle or poetry or prophecy. Well, this is in the, the poets, and it is poetry in that you find the use of imagery and metaphors, the economy of words, often there is Hebrew parallelism.

Turn the page, look at chapter 2. This happens all the time in Proverbs and in the Psalms. “My son, if you receive my words, treasure up my commandments with you.” See the parallelism, saying the same thing, maybe slightly different ways, a little different nuance… Receive, treasure up.

Verse 2: “Make your ear attentive, incline your heart… Call out for insight.” Another way, raise your voice, for understanding.

“Seek it like silver… Search for it as…hidden treasure.” You see the parallelism? The second line complements, summarizes, recapitulates the first.

When you look at a proverb, you must realize what it is. They are aphorisms, sayings, maxims. They are not laws. Now it’s true that there are some of the proverbs which are absolutely true all the time: Proverbs 11:1, “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord.” Well, yes, that’s always true, but when you read the proverbs, you need to remember they are dealing with generalities. They are not mathematical formulas. They are telling you the way things normally work. So when you encounter proverbs about look to the sluggard and the lazy person and he’s poor, and look to the industrious and they have wealth, it’s not saying it is always that way, but in general, work hard. In general, if you don’t work hard, you won’t have.

We have these sort of aphorisms today: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Does that mean that absolutely if you would just eat an apple, we would have no need for medical training? No. It just means apples are good.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Generally good insight.

A Bible that’s falling apart is a sign of a life that isn’t. Awww, isn’t that a nice saying? [laughter] Well, that’s generally true if you’re reading your Bible, but I suppose somebody, you know, might just take their Bible and beat it up and still be a miserable person. But generally it is true.

Because they are aphorisms, one size does not always fit all. In fact, many of the proverbs are situational. In fact, part of being wise is understanding that different circumstances call for different responses.

Here’s the classic example, I hope you have your Bible, turn to Proverbs 26, 4 and 5. 26, verse 4: “Answer not a foot according to his folly lest you be like him yourself.” Verse 5: “Answer a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

Well, which is it? [laughter] The idea is it takes wisdom. There are occasions you say “That’s a fool, and you know what? If I enter into this discussion, and I get into this long, and I leave a comment on his blog, and I get into an endless e-mail chain, I’m going to be every bit the fool that he is.” And then there are other times you say, “Well, if we just let that go unchecked and no one says anything, then he will think that he is wise, or she is wise, in her own eyes.”

Part of being mature and wise is to see different responses. It’s the immature who never have nuance, who never make careful distinctions, who only see things in black and white, never have qualifications, who think the exact same course of action is the same for every person in every situation.

Yeah, there are ways to compromise. There are things that are black and white. And then there’s part of growing up and learning you know what? I’m going to have to talk t this person different than I talk to that person. And you know what? This situation is a little bit different and I don’t have just one method that works all the time.

Finally, we want to remember to read the proverbs with an eye to Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30: “He,” that is Christ, “is our wisdom. He is the only truly wise one. His wise life is ours through union with Him, and in Him, by the Spirit, we have power to live this kind of life.” So He is our example of wisdom, our power for wisdom, and by faith and communion with Him, He is our wisdom. So don’t read this just as collecting fortune cookies, but as Christ communicating to us what He is like and how we ought to be like as we belong to Him.

All of that by way of introduction for the first of this series. This morning I want us to look and think about anger. Anger is what Jerry Bridges calls “one of those respectable sins” in his book by that title. It is a respectable sin, meaning we figure everyone just sort of has it. And I don’t have any major sins, yes, I’m angry, but everyone’s angry. It’s a respectable sin.

Well, it may be, but it is a serious sin. Galatians 5: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger.”

Works of the flesh. We would all acknowledge when you go off and someone commits sexual immorality that’s a work of the flesh, but in the same list, Paul says, strife, when you’re needlessly fighting with each other, when you have fits of anger. We could probably go through this entire room and the Spirit would know, bet the number of people who have had fits of anger at some point during this week… It’s a pretty high percentage. Certainly is in my household.

Think about it. The first sin on the other side of Eden was anger. “But for Cain and his offering, He had no regard, so Cain was very angry and his face fell.” And it leads to murder. That’s why Jesus will later say “it is like murder in your heart.” Murder is simply the outworking, when you have the ability and the opportunity to kill, that’s what you’ve already done in your hearts. The first sin east of Eden is anger. So before you think it is just a minor character flaw… An elder must be gentle, not violent. He must not be quick tempered. Anger is a serious problem and almost certainly, everyone listening, almost certainly it is your problem. My problem.

One of the most memorable chapters I’ve ever read in a book is from David Powlison’s book Good and Angry. We’ll get some copies to put in the Book Nook. Chapter two is entitled “Do you have a serious problem with anger?” It’s such a good chapter, I memorized the entire chapter. I’m not joking. I memorized the entire chapter. I’m going to give it to you right now. Here’s the entire chapter: “Yes.” [laughter]

It said “Do you have a serious problem with anger?” “Yes.” And then study questions, and you turn it and it’s chapter three. He’s right. You have an anger problem, and I point all those fingers, I have an anger problem.

Now there’s a difference between the sort of anger that disqualifies you from ministry and the like, but to say that any one of us does not struggle with anger would not be accurate.

How can Proverbs help you, help me, help my family, with our anger problem? Three lessons.

First, Proverbs tells us how to assess anger. See, many of us think, “Yeah, I struggle with anger, but we put it off in the corner sort of, that’s kind of, that’s one of my personality quirks.” Or “You know, it just happens because I’m a parent.” Or “You know what? I’m really stressed right now at work. I haven’t been getting enough sleep. I haven’t been exercising.” Or it’s just an aspect, it’s this season of life with young kids, or it’s the season of life where I have parents.

We’re liable to just put it aside and make excuses for it, and Proverbs helps to come to grips with what anger really is. Anger is ugly.

Proverbs 25:23: “The north wind brings forth rain and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.”

27:3: “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.”

21:19: “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.” [laughter] And we also say “man.”

Put those together. Anger, in other words, is like getting caught in a cold, driving wind. It’s like being weighed down with a sack of sand. And it’s like living in a prison. That’s what anger’s like. It’s ugly.

Now some of us say, “But isn’t it possible to be angry without sinning?” Yes, it is. The Bible, Jesus was angry. “In your anger do not sin,” so there must be a category of anger that is not sin and anger that is sin. Righteous anger is in proportion to the offense, under control, and an accurate appraisal of true evil.

And if we look at those three characteristics, I think we conclude that the vast majority of our anger is not righteous anger.

Is our anger usually in proportion to the offense? If you’re telling me that you are weeping streams of tears like the psalmist over the sin of abortion in our land or racism or injustice, well, then, your anger may be justified. But those aren’t the things that we are typically having fits of anger about. It’s way out of proportion.

You may know that I’m a Chicago Bears fan and until recently for many years the Bears’ quarterback was Jay Cutler. I actually liked Jay Cutler, but it was bound to be a frustrating experience to be a Bears fan with Jay Cutler. I also have a son name Jacob, who sometimes we shorten it and we just say Jay. One time, years ago, the kids were younger, watching football and Cutler throws a pick six as he was wont to do. And in a moment of not righteous anger, I just blurted out, I said “What are you doing, Jay?” and my son said “What did I do?” [laughter] “Different Jay. You’re fine.”

I was not fine. Way out of proportion. Okay, men, and maybe women, too, but in particular men, have you had our weekend ruined by teenage, 20-year-old men in tight pants throwing a ball around? [laughter] Yes, you have, and not only that, you’ve ruined the weekend of your family because of those young men throwing a ball around in tight pants, tackling each other. Way of out proportion. Out of control. Doors slamming. Papers flying. Swear words coming out because they have mastery over you, not you over your temper.

Can you say that your anger is based on an accurate appraisal of true evil? No, for most of us, our anger does not arise for love of God and His glory and the love of God’s law. But it’s the love of ourself. It’s the love of convenience. It’s about my honor, my rights, my wishes, my comforts.

Anger is ugly. And it comes from our hearts. Listen very carefully. It is not caused by outside forces.

It’s one of the things that David Powlison and others would say in their memorable lines, “Yes, people can push your buttons, but they are still your buttons.” You see how we use these sort of passive expressions: “I lost my temper. I didn’t do it, I just, where’d it go? I lost it.” [laughter] “You pushed my buttons. I’m here, not doing anything, and you’re pushing my buttons. That’s why I got angry.” Well, certainly people can affect that. Or “I’m just venting, you know, just steam that’s just piling up and you just, you, you have to let it out. You just have to vent some of it.” See how it makes you a passive participant in your anger? I didn’t have any control, you just pushed my buttons, steam just had to come out.

Well, it is certainly the case that all those experiences do make a difference. It does matter if you’re stressed, it does matter when your overwhelmed, it does matter if you’re not getting enough sleep. They aren’t to be ignored, but listen, the sin is still your sin. The sin is my sin. It comes from your heart, my heart, and one of the things that makes anger so deadly and ugly is it is a gateway sin.

Proverbs 29:22: “A man of wrath stirs up strife and one given to anger causes much transgression.”

When you’re angry, it causes many other sins. Causes many other sins in you, perhaps it’s violence or impatience, or idolatry, or blasphemy, or taking the Lord’s name in vain. And it causes other transgressions in others. Now it’s still their sin, but your anger then puts a sort of pall over the whole household, or over the whole office. When your angry, you can do all sorts of damage, with a tongue, a look, a report.

That’s why we read in Ephesians 4: “Do not let the sun set on your anger lest the devil get a foothold.” You get the image there. The devil, the devil knows, maybe you’re, you’re in the Word and you’re going to church and he can’t get you with a full frontal assault and just pop up in your face and say “I’m the devil… Follow me.” Okay, you’re a Christian, you’re not going to do that. He gets you by the ankle. He gets a foothold. How does he do it? Anger. There he is. And you’re walking around every day with the devil climbing up your back because the sun went down on your anger and he knows when he has you mad, oh ho ho, he has you. He has you ready to start thinking nasty things about other people. He has you ready to start feeling sorry for yourself. And when you start feeling sorry for yourself, he has you ready to go out and start doing things you would not do because well, I deserve something, I deserve better. He has you ready to do all sorts of his bidding when he has you angry.

Resentment turns to a grudge which turns to bitterness which eventually makes you a shrill, critical, judgmental, unwelcoming person because the devil got a foothold. Anger is an ugly thing.

Have you ever seen someone angry, really angry, unrighteously angry, and think “that’s beautiful, I’d like to be like that”? No, you’re embarrassed. We’ve all seen those moments, and if we’re honest, we’ve probably had those moments… In the restaurant, in the grocery store, and you see a mom or dad who’s obviously frazzled and at their wit’s end and berate a child for maybe being sinful or maybe just being a child, and absolutely, you think, it’s ugly.

I’ve seen the way that parents fly off the handle with their children, and I’m quick to judge them until I realize, oh, might have someone have seen the very same thing from me?

It’s especially ugly when it’s directed towards God. Now listen carefully. There’s a difference between groaning and grumbling. There’s a difference between lamentation before God and anger at God. Lamentation means you are honest about your pain and your confusion and there are plenty of biblical examples of lamentation. Entirely appropriate. In fact, we probably need to be better trained in the rightness of it. But anger toward God is a moral judgment. Lamentation is a judgment upon your circumstances; anger is a judgment then upon God. God, you have done me wrong. Not in a sort of groaning “Why? I’m confused” but in a fist-raised accusation: God, you have not done right. That’s a blasphemous judgment to be angry with God.

Anger is an ugly sin. Proverbs helps us assess it correctly.

Second, Proverbs helps us deal with anger in others. Second lesson. Proverbs tells us don’t press the issue with an angry person. Proverbs 30:33: “For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.”

Parents, how often are we punching noses? We know better, we know it’s unwise, and we respond yelling to yelling. I tweeted out several months ago, partly in jest, probably not as much as it should have been, if I’m ever going to write a children’s book, it’s going to be called Gospel-Centered Yelling. Um, kidding, I think, because we know that’s not the way to parent. We know that when our children talk sinfully to us that it doesn’t help to just press the nose for more blood, and yet we do it. Smashing our palm against a bloody nose. Don’t press the issue; respond calmly.

Proverbs 29, verse 8: “Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.”

15:18: “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”

15:1: You know this one, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

So often we respond to anger with greater anger. Let’s not be like dogs. You know, when dogs communicate, one dog barks, and what does the next dog do? He doesn’t quietly whisper. Come again? Why are you so loud? No, that dog in the neighborhood start [barking sound effect] and then that dog behind you [barking sound effect] and then pretty soon they’re all in a cacophony of barking, louder, one after the next. I don’t know what they’re saying. Maybe one dog is trying to yell really loud “Stop it!” [laughter] “I’m trying to sleep.” They just bark, bark, bark louder, louder, louder, louder. He’s barking, I bark. That’s what we’re like with our anger. And pretty soon the whole neighborhood is rumbling with the sound of barking dogs, or angry men and women.

Or you remember, you’ve seen these in the movies, the old push and pull train cars that go on the train tracks and one person does this and up and down and up and down. You get like that with your anger. Or say your spouse. And instead of returning with a calm word, he does this and then, you know, that puts your side of the lever up, and so you do that, and then [sound effect] up and down. And I don’t really know what I’m looking right now, but it’s probably pretty funny. [laughter] Up and down, up and down, until you know what happens? [sound effect] You run into a train. You make me angry, I make you angry. You hurt me, I hurt you back. You push that lever up, I push it right back down. Instead of returning a gentle word.

Proverbs helps us to know how to respond to others.

And third lesson, even more importantly, Proverbs helps us know how to deal with anger in ourselves. It’s good, helpful, other people are angry, but what about the anger in here? Proverbs says when your angry, wait.

14:29: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”

How many times have you fired off that e-mail and thought “oh, the five minute rule” or the 24-hour rule is even better. Why did I send that off. Wait.

Because closely related to the sin of anger is impatience. Chronic impatience manifests itself in irritably. Are you easily bothered? Frequently annoyed? Do you give off an air of almost constant exasperation? And maybe you don’t say it, maybe you think you’re hiding it. No, people see the way your eyes are rolling back in your head. We hear the silent sighs. [Sigh] We know what that means; you’re not fooling anyone. The hand through your hair, the lips pursed out, the loud exhaling. Are you a bear to be around? People tiptoeing, walking on eggshells?

And you may think, “Well, they have a problem. They’re soft. They shouldn’t be intimidated.” Well, maybe the problem is you. You’re intimidating, and your level of patience is as brittle as an eggshell. Handle it just slightly off and it shatters.

Remember in 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient.

When we are angry with our spouse, when we are angry with one another, when we are angry with our children, it’s not just a temperamental issue… We are not loving them. Wait. Listen. Listen more, talk less.

James 1: “Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.”

Wait. Listen. Remember. Remember you do have control over your anger. It may not feel like that. You may, in that fit, in that outburst of anger, feel like “I had no control over it,” but we are human beings, created in the image of God, and in particular if we belong to Christ and have His spirit and know the Word, it may feel like you have no control, but there is a way out.

Whoever is slow to anger, Proverbs 16:32, is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Some of you want to be impressive. You want to rule something. You want to be in charge of something. Well, the Bible says you know what’s even better than being the mayor of the city? You know what’s more impressive than being the President? You know what has more control? The person who can control his anger. If you want authority and influence, if you want power, the first and indispensable requirement is to control yourself.

It is one of my besetting sins, particularly in the home, is impatience, irritability, and why? Why am I like that? Why are you like that? It’s because I want my way. And I want it now. And I don’t trust that God has put this trial in my path for good. And it’s because I don’t consider, really, the seriousness of my own sin. Anger is grasping at godhood. If I were God, I’d do it differently. I’m going to be God right now and put you in your place. I am a god, and I deserve have everything work just as I want it to. We want every knee to bow to us. We believe that everything should be the way we would design them for ourselves.

So wait, listen, remember, and finally, this is all under that third point, how to deal with anger in ourselves, look. Look past many sins of others.

Proverbs 19:11: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it his glory to overlook an offense.”

Can I say something to anyone here who is currently living with a brother or a sister? You have siblings in the house. They’re annoying. That’s what they do. It is a glory to overlook an offense. Now it’s not a glory to offend. Okay? That’s their problem and they need to deal with God and God needs to deal with them, but it is a glory to overlook an offense.

Of course, we’re not talking about rank, profound, life-shattering injustices. No, no, no. We have elders, we have courts, we have ways to seek redress. No, I’m talking about all the little slights that happen to us when, when people don’t give us the due that we think, or we find the way they talk to be annoying, or they, they have pet peeves, or they don’t give us the respect we think we deserve. If you are going to go through your life wanting every one of those little slights and offenses to be noticed, to be recognized, to be redressed, you are going to be miserable and make everyone else miserable. It is a glory to overlook an offense, to give people the benefit of the doubt.

How many times have I been driving and somebody drives stupidly, you know… How hard is it to put on a turn signal? It’s a big stick. It goes up and down. [laughter] Put it on. Tell us where you’re going. [laughter] As I’m tempted to get angry, I think how many times have I been the stupid driver? At least as many, and so have you. You have been. If you don’t think so, ask your spouse. [laughter] How many times I didn’t see somebody and I cut, and I would hope, “Oh, Lord, I hope they give me the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t mean to do that. I didn’t know they were there,” or “I’m having a bad day.” We want other people to give us the benefit of the doubt that we’re not willing to extend to others.

Love as you would like to be loved. So look past offenses and look to Jesus. Look to Jesus. He paid for the sins of many of those annoying people in your life. He did. And if were Christians here, He paid for the sins of those annoying Christians in your life. He paid for the sins of your believing spouse, even when he or she upsets you, offends you. Why do we believe that we are justified by faith alone and then we make our husband or wife be justified by works?

Remember what God has done. Look to Christ. Look to Him as our example. He never responded in kind. Yes, He was righteously angry, but He did not revile when reviled. He was quick to forgive. He was never out of control. And look to Jesus and His mercy in your own life. What would your life be like? What would my life be like if God dealt with my faults the way we deal with others? What if God were not slow to anger? What if God were not quick to forgive? Is that really the universe that you want to inhabit? A world of absolute and immediate justice for everyone at every moment? Oh, I don’t think so. For we have a God who has been so patient with us, who has dealt with us so kindly.

You see, when we get to the heart of it, these proverbs are not just here’s some good rules about trying to control yourself. Any person out there in the world might want to be better at not getting angry. No, this is fundamentally spiritual. Do you understand how God loves you? Do you understand all the offenses God has overlooked in your life? Do you understand what God has done in Christ to forgive you? Do you understand how righteously angry God ought to be with you? And with me? But for the sake of Christ, He has set it aside. He has been assuaged and He looks upon us with the very tenderest of affection and kindness of emotion.

And so let us look to others as God would look to us, and as we look to Christ, perhaps we will have a better look at the anger in our own lives.

Let’s pray. Our Father in heaven, as we turn from Your Word spoken to Your Word seen, and feast upon you at this table, it is fitting, considering what we have just heard and considering what we are about to partake of, that we would confess our sins. We have been quick to anger. We have been slow to speak. We have stirred up strife. We have pressed the bloody nose. We have considered our needs above the needs of our neighbors. In fact, Lord, we have considered our wants to be more important than the needs of our neighbors. We have not loved others as we would wish to be loved. We have not given the benefit of the doubt as we hope others will give to us. We have been sinful. We have even in this past week had fits of unrighteous anger. We pray that You would forgive us, that You would have mercy upon us, that by Your Spirit You would help us to become more and more like Christ, who never reviled when reviled, who never was out of control, who gave His life for angry, sinful people. We thank You for His sacrifice, that in Him we have the forgiveness of sin and the assurance of pardon. As we read in Romans 8, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. And so we give thanks. In Jesus’ name. Amen.