Be Angry Worksheet: Leader’s Guide

24 Apr

Read Ephesians 4:26 and 27

If I asked you to make a list of ways that you have sinned or been sinned against this past week, I would guess that for most of us, that would be a pretty long list. It is one of the hardest parts as believers of living in a sinful world.

Even though we are believers we still sin. On a regular basis.

And we still sin against one another. It would be so great if we came together and spent time with one another and we never ever wronged each other, if this was the one place on earth where people never sinned against each other, but it is not. We are still sinners and we still sin against each other.

Sometimes in pretty big ways.

We have been looking at Ephesians and we have seen that God’s done this radical thing in our lives when we become believers, He’s transformed us, He’s changed, we are no longer who we were, but unfortunately that does not mean that we stop sinning altogether.

Sin and sometimes shocking kinds of sin still can creep into the church and into our relationships with one another.

We probably don’t need proof of that but if we did, we could just pick up our Bibles and begin reading through the New Testament and we’d see very quickly that even the earliest believers who were taught and led by the apostles still struggled with sin in some fairly serious ways.

1.What are some examples of ways believers sinned against one another in the Scriptures?

– There were problems with sexual sin, like for example who was sleeping with his father’s wife, and what is worse is the fact that the church at Corinth was tolerating it as if it weren’t any problem at all.
– There were problems with false teaching, like the men within the church who were attacking Paul and more importantly who were attacking and distorting and twisting the doctrine of salvation by grace into a doctrine of salvation by works.
– There were problems with pride, like this man named Diotrephes who John said loved to be first and refused to submit to the apostle’s authority over him.
– There were problems with laziness, like those whom Paul heard were among the Thessalonian church and walked in laziness, not busy at work, but were busybodies.
– There were problems with jealousy, like those whom preached the gospel from selfish ambition, actually somehow trying to cause Paul pain as he was in prison.
– And there were problems with conflict, oh were there problems with conflict, like those we find in almost every single letter in the New Testament.

And the question I want us to ask is, how should we as a church feel and respond to all that? What’s the right response to sin, the sin we see in the world obviously but also and especially the sin we see sin in our own hearts and the sin we see in our churches and the sin we see in our relationships with one another?

2.What were some of your typical ways of responding to sins against you when you were an unbeliever?

We know of course how we used to respond before we were unbelievers and we know of course how unbelievers respond now, but we are believers now, not unbelievers, by God’s grace, we have been taken out of this group of people who all looked at the world a certain way and made a part of a new group of people, and this change, we know, changes us, but how? How exactly does it change the way we feel and respond to our own sin, the sins of others, and the sins that we find in the church? I think we find Paul’s answer to that question here in verse 26.

I have to warn you however, it is a little shocking.

Because if you look at the text, you will see that he writes,

“Be angry.”

You can stop there because the rest of the phrases in verse 26 and then verse 27 revolve around this one. According to Paul one of the ways we should feel and respond to all the crazy sinful stuff we see going all around us is by being angry.

Which again is a little shocking.

3.Why is it surprising that Paul commands us to be angry?

This is such a shocking command in fact that some people tone it down by translating this, “if you get angry” but that’s actually not really the best option grammatically. Apparently according to scholars who study these sorts of things and know a lot about Greek grammar, for it to mean if you get angry Paul would have to be using grammar in a way he doesn’t anywhere else. Plus there’s the fact that if he really means ‘if you get angry’ the end result isn’t all that different than be angry, because in this verse he doesn’t say put off anger altogether but instead he tells us how to deal with it.

Paul is telling us that there are times when it is appropriate to become angry. There’s a never a time when it is right to lie, or steal, or speak corrupting talk; but there is a time when it is right to be angry.

4.What is anger? We sometimes only think of the sinful expressions of anger, but what is anger at its core?

Anger is an emotion like most other emotions that God gave us for our good, when it is motivated by the right things and when it is expressed in ways that are line with what God has told us in His book, the Word of God. Anger is, as one man explains, “a powerful motivating force” to fix certain problems, and certainly becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you stop ever getting angry, otherwise Paul couldn’t say, BE ANGRY, the right kind of anger can help you, BUT and this is so essential for us to hear, becoming a Christian does MEAN you must deal with your anger in a whole new way and that I think is actually the essence of this passage.

5.What might be some biblical proofs that there is a time to get angry?

Now that is such a surprising thing for some of you, I probably should try to prove it. We know that for several reasons.

• We know that because when we look at God and what He is like, we discover that while He is a God who is slow to anger, He is most definitely a God who gets angry.

For example in Joshua 7:1, it tells us that after Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things that
the “anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.”
2 Kings 22:13 says something similar. The king of Israel actually says, “Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book.”
God never lies. God never sins in any way, but the Bible most definitely tells us that God does get angry which means that not all anger is wrong.

• We know that because when we look at the only perfect human being who has ever lived, Jesus Christ; we see that He too gets angry.

The Bible very clearly tells us Jesus never did anything wrong but there are several occasions in which he became angry.

Look at Mark 3. Jesus is in the synagogue on the Sabbath along with a man with a withered hand. The religious leaders were there as well but instead of feeling compassion they were hoping to use the sick man to trap Jesus and in verse 5, Mark tells us that Jesus responded by “looking around them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart.”
In John 2, we discover another scene which I do not know how to understand except as an illustration of Jesus becoming angry. John tells us that Jesus went up to Jerusalem at Passover and in the temple found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons and the money changers sitting there. In other words when he found people who were using religious activity to satisfy their greed and how does Jesus react? John 2:15 tells us that he makes a whip out of cords and drives them all out of the temple with the sheep and the oxen. And he poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. Now can you imagine going into a marketplace somewhere, what you would have to do to get the people to stop selling their stuff, how they would react if you flipped over their table, if you poured out the coins on the floor, this was quite a scene; and I don’t know how to explain all that except as an example of Jesus becoming angry and you know I think the disciples saw it that way as well, because we read in verse 12 that as the disciples watched Jesus they remembered the prophecy of the Messiah which says, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” They saw zeal consuming Jesus and I think really consuming zeal is a pretty good description of anger, it is when passion over something wrong grabs hold of you and gives you great energy for action.

• Not only does God display anger and Jesus feel anger, righteous men throughout the Scripture get angry.

This passage in Ephesians is actually a quote from Psalm 4:4 where David is under attack from wicked men and David tells himself and others in response to “Be angry and yet do not sin, ponder in your hearts on your beds and be silent.”
Paul too seems to advocate a right kind of anger in 2 Corinthians 7 where he talks about some of the characteristics of godly grief over sin; he says “see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation…” and when you look up that word indignation in the dictionary do you know what the word Paul uses means? It means a feeling of anger or vexation.

• Which when you slow down and think about it makes sense. It makes sense in this fallen world that there are times when we should look at what is happening in us or around us and be upset. This world has been severely messed up by sin and we have been severely messed up by sin and how can you or I look at what sin has done to us and what sin has done to this world and not ever be filled with a zeal for things to change, to get angry?

In fact one writer puts it like this, talking about the way sin has impacted the world,

“In a world that has been terribly broken by sin, where nothing operates as it is intended, where evil often has a more immediate influence than good, it would be wrong not to be angry. How can you look poverty in the face and not be angry? How can you consider the surge of AIDS and not be angry? How could you look at the political corruption that makes government more a place for personal power than societal protection, and not be angry? How can you look at the rate of divorce in Western culture, or the prevalence of domestic violence, and not be angry? How can you consider the huge numbers of homeless people who wander our streets and not be angry? How can you consider the confusion of gender identity and sexual impropriety that surrounds us and not be angry? How can you consider the state of our educational institutions, art, and popular entertainment, and not be angry?”

What’s more, he goes on to ask,

“How can you look at the state of the church, which seems so often to have lost its way, and not be angry? How can you even look at your own life, your own family, and your own circle of friends—how sin twists and complicates every location, relationship, and situation of your life—and not be angry? In life and ministry, righteous anger is not only important, it’s vital…you simply cannot look at the world with the eyes of truth and with a heart committed to what God says is right and good, and not be angry at the state of things in this fallen world. In your ministry, how can you daily look at the damage that sin has done to the people around you and not be angry? In a fallen world, anger is a good thing. In a fallen world, anger is a constructive thing. In a fallen world, anger is an essential thing. That is, if the anger is about something bigger than you.”

6.Think about that last statement about righteous anger. “Anger is an essential thing. That is if the anger is about something bigger than you.” What does the author mean when he says that sometimes anger is an essential thing? What is he warning against when he says if the anger is about something bigger than you?

Sometimes people are angry because they are so self-absorbed, but what we may not always understand is that sometimes people are not angry because they are so self-absorbed. Sometimes people are so wrapped up in themselves that they freak out with anger whenever someone does something to them, but what we may not always understand is that sometimes people are so wrapped up in their own little lives that they don’t even notice when evil terrible things happen to others, they are not even bothered when they themselves do sinful things, they don’t even care that people are hurting each other and dishonoring God as they do so.

7. It is easy to see how self can be at the center of sinful anger. But how can self be at the center of not getting angry?

Anger is wrong, it is sinful when it is about self.
Anger can be right, it can be godly when it is about Christ and God looking great.
And sometimes we don’t get angry because we care about ourselves more than we care about that.

8.Explain the following statement in your own words: While there are times when our problem with anger is that we are angry for the wrong reasons; there are also other times when our problem with anger is that we are not angry for the right reasons.

Sometimes our problem is as Paul Tripp explains that “the things that should make us angry and thereby move us to action just don’t make us angry anymore.”

9. What do you get angry about that you shouldn’t? How is self at the center of your anger? What do you not get angry about that you should? How is self at the center of your not getting angry?

Now it is dangerous to stop here, so please come back for the next study guide because while there are times when it is right to get angry, we must recognize that anger is also and always dangerous. It is like dynamite. There are times when you should use it, but you want to be careful that you don’t get blown up. And Paul gives us clear instructions how we should use righteous anger in this passage which we will look at together next time.

10. For now though, what are some specific ways you have been challenged by this study? How will you seek to be different as a result?

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