In the movie, The Avengers, Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk, tells Captain America, “Well that’s my secret. I’m always angry.”
Every human being on the face of this planet is angry. So just admit it. Now. Today. I am angry.
Think of a recent moment when you experienced anger. What drove your reaction and response? Allow yourself to experience the discomfort.
So here’s how anger works. An external occurrence trippers, or sets off an internal response. Usually an event of some type that exposes a couple of things inside of our hearts.
Either something exposed in our heart that we were hiding, like insecurity.
Or a sense of injustice. Sometimes both.
Next, a process begins in your mind, a reaction in your oblongata. Suddenly, concerns and doubts flood you. Anxieties, guilt and irritation rush forward. You try to get a handle on it.
But you can’t.
Before you know it, within just milliseconds, all kinds of physiological responses ignite. Some people sweat. Other people shake. Some twitch and I’ve even seen friends blush or mutter.
Personally, my heart begins to race. As if it would beat out of my chest.
We either fight or flight; express or suppress.
What’s your typical reaction? I usually suppress. Hold anger in. Try to ignore the internal reactions.
Years ago we purchased a new (used) car and parked it in our garage alongside our other car. Two days later I took my family out to dinner—my wife in the front with me and three kids in back. Grant was sitting at the rear side door of our family car. After supper, as we pulled into the garage, I said, “Grant, be careful when you open the door. It’s spring loaded. I don’t want you to ding my new car.”
I said it twice.
He opened the door, let it go–TINK–right into the car. Now it had a ding. Like if you took a nail and a hammer and went “BAM” as hard as you could.
“Ahhh!” I turned around, and with smoke coming out of my ears said, “I told you not to do that!” I was so angry that my wife kind of got chills. Everybody exited the car.
In the house, I paced for ten minutes to cool down. Then apologized to my entire family.
The story doesn’t end there, though. In the next two weeks the car was dinged two more times.
Three dings by three different kids.
All in the same area, right underneath the driver’s door handle.
For the next two years every time I got in my car, I noticed at the dings. Funny and embarrassing now, not so much then.
Angry words are murderous little acts to the soul. Life altering, damaging little murderous acts to other human beings who God created.
Jesus said, “You have heard it 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 fire. So if you’re offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go and first be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you’re going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge and the judge, the guard and you be put in prison. Truly I say to you that you will never get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:21-25).
Over and over Jesus states, “You have heard it was said…but I say unto you. . .”
He strips away rules constructed to modify behavior to get at the heart. To teach us a deeper meaning about what God was after when it came to the law and true righteousness.
Most of the time when somebody else has an issue with me I think, that’s their problem. But Jesus teaches otherwise. We need to take action when relational anger rises, because Jesus Christ wants unity.
Anger, if it is allowed to brew, leads to death. Jesus’ way leads to life.
That’s our challenge. To seek reconciliation.