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Are you Angry?

Radio March 31, 2009

Are you angry?


          are you Mad at what is going on in government?


          Oh yeah, we can be mad at the bankers, Just as we would be mad at a thief who broke into our home and stole some stuff.

But here is the question: if you forgot to set the burglar alarm before you went to Walmart, you can also be mad at yourself, can’t you?


          If you are a Republican, you are mad at the democrats.


          If you are a Democrat, you are mad at the Republicans.


          If you are an independent, you get to take your pick.


          But even here, we are missing something really important.

Remember something Abraham Lincoln said to a generation of Americans.


          “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government : of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


          That last line rings down through time.


          And it serves to remind us that if we need someone to blame, someone to be angry toward, we ought to look in the mirror.


          Blame congress, blame the president, if you must, for they were asleep at the switch. But blame ourselves for putting them there.

(Isaiah 56:9-12 KJV) All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. {10} His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. {11} Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. {12} Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.


          It would be hard to find a more apt description of where we are right now.o


 •          God knows, there is a lot to be angry about.


But free floating anger is a bad thing, and it leads people to do bad things.


          It is okay to be angry, but it is a big mistake to act in anger.


(James 1:19-20 KJV) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: {20} For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

I was shocked to see President Obama express his anger publicly, and appearing prepared to act in anger—even stirring up anger in his audience.


          Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?


          The more power a person has, the worse it is for him to let anger come to the fore.


          Remember, there is a man close to the president at all times who carries what is called “The football.”

Last night, I searched the Internet and found FDRs speech to congress on December 8, 1941.


          If ever a president had a right to be angry, this was the occasion for it.


          But the dominant impression carried in the speech was not anger. Rather, it was a grim determination.


                      He systematically laid out the facts. Declared that we would triumph. And asked for the congressional declaration that a state of war existed between Japan and the United States of America.


          Whatever you may think of Roosevelt, he was a statesman.


                      And what the nation needed on that day was not anger.

                      We needed leadership.

                      We needed the calm determination to fight and win.

I contrast that to President Obama’s expressed anger over bonuses paid, under contract and permitted by US law, to officers of a company the US had just bailed out.


          No blood had been spilled. Hundreds of Americans were not lying at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

          And one wonders what the reaction will be when Americans die in large numbers at some future time.


          Anger is out of place in men who have that kind of power. Let him go to the whitehouse gym and punch the heavy bag for a while, and then come and lead the people to a calm reasoned response to the problem.

Congress also indulged themselves in a lot of righteous anger, that was sadly lacking the righteousness.


          I have seen a lot of anger in my time, and it seems to bubble up from different wells.


          It arises from hurt, from fear, from hatred, from frustration, from resentment, from envy, from pride, even from embarrassment.


          It arises from getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar.


          Anger serves to deflect attention from your own failures.


          I don’t know if congress was embarrassed or not, but they should have been. And to this day, I haven’t seen any congressman step up and confess the failures of the body with the kind of humility that one would think would be in order.

The next time you see a congressman, or a president expressing anger, ask yourself which well this is coming from. And how anger serves the purpose of leading a nation.


          Frankly, I find anger coming from powerful men to be frightening.


          And anger is a barrier to dispassionate judgement. It is the emotion of a lynch mob, not a deliberative body like a jury.


                      Any juror who expressed anger over the crime should be disqualified, and probably would be.

Years ago, after finishing a study in the book of Psalms, I decided to go on into the book of proverbs.


          I used colored pencils and a scheme for marking that made it easy to walk through the book finding the parallel passages.


          I didn’t get too far into Proverbs before I started noticing the way Solomon addressed the issue of anger.

The book of Proverbs is an absolute gold mine of common sense.


          I’m lucky, I am not a person much given to anger, but part of that may be because I have been reading the Bible since I was a kid.

          And the influence of the Bible is subtle. It doesn’t necessarily stop you from doing things you shouldn’t do, but at least it reminds you that you shouldn’t.


          More than once in my lifetime, when facing a situation, the perfect proverb comes to mind.

Take chapter 14 as a case in point.

(Proverbs 14:15-17 KJV) The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.


          No, it is not about anger. Yet. But a lot of times we get angry because we believe something that isn’t true.


                      It is a terrible embarrassment to have to climb down off your high horse.


                      By all means listen to the talking heads, but remember that it is the simpleton who believes every word.


          Going on:

{16} A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident. {17} He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.


          Rage is foolish. Fear can be healthy. Rage can blind you to danger.


          A fool is hot headed and reckless.


          And I guess this is what really worries me when I see anger in a leader: Is he as reckless as he seems.


          Recklessness is a bad thing in a man with the nuclear codes.

Later in the same chapter:

(Proverbs 14:29 NIV) A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.


          One of the worrisome things about our national leadership right now is an apparent lack of patience.


          Some of the stuff that needs to be done will take time. And contrary opinions need to be heard.

Keep these proverbs in mind as you watch your congress at work:

(Proverbs 12:15-16 NIV) The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. {16} A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.

(Proverbs 15:16-18 NIV) Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. {17} Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred. {18} A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.


          When I read that, I hearken back to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the speech president Roosevelt gave on that occasion.


          He did not need to fire up the population. Everyone was angry enough at being attacked without warning.


          What we needed in that moment was a patient, calming influence. Anger could be turned to determination.


          Actually, we need a calm, reassuring presence right now.

(Proverbs 16:30-32 NIV) He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity; he who purses his lips is bent on evil. {31} Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life. {32} Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

(Proverbs 22:24-27 NIV) Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, {25} or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

(Proverbs 29:22-23 NIV) An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. {23} A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.


          Note the connection between pride and anger.

(Proverbs 17:26-28 NRSV) To impose a fine on the innocent is not right, or to flog the noble for their integrity. {27} One who spares words is knowledgeable; one who is cool in spirit has understanding. {28} Even fools who keep silent are considered wise; when they close their lips, they are deemed intelligent.


          It is dead wrong for a congressional committee to flog the people they call before them or to humiliate them.


          Their object should be the accumulation of knowledge and understanding about the situation.

(Ecclesiastes 7:8-10 NIV) The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. {9} Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. {10} Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions.


          I suppose that is because we haven’t been give the old days to work with.

          We have what we have, and we need to deal with it.


          Keep these passages in mind as you watch your congress at work.


          Frankly, what I see in these men is that they have been embarassed. Greatly.


                      And they are angry about it.


                      And I don’t recall a one of them apologizing to the American people for the failure of congress.


          Presidents come and presidents go, and they are important.


          But the founders placed the real power in the hands of congress.


                      Therefore, when something like this economic crisis hits us, the men of congress know they have dropped the ball.


                      A little humility would be in order, and it would go a long way in calming the nation for us to know that our representatives know their error and they will correct it.


          The British have a tradition in government that seems strange at first, but it is crucial in leading a people.


          When an important man has screwed up, he doesn’t merely say he accepts responsibility, he shows that he does by prompt resignation.


          No man is indispensable. When he has failed, it is time for him to get out of the way, and let another man have a go at it.

I would not call the president, any senator or any congressman a fool—much less the Pres.


          But intelligent people do play the fool from time to time. And the more power, the smarter the fool, the greater the danger.

Do Christian people have a role in society in times like these?


          Plainly we do.

(2 Timothy 2:24-26 NIV) And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. {25} Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, {26} and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

It is worth noting that anger is a trap of the devil. It blinds a person. It displaces common sense.

(Ephesians 4:26-32 NIV) "In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, {27} and do not give the devil a foothold. {28} He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. {29} Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. {30} And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. {31} Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. {32} Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


          But what if I can’t help it?


          But you can, or we wouldn’t be told to not to let the sun go down while we are still angry.

(Proverbs 25:28 KJV) He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

(Matthew 12:15-21 NIV) Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, {16} warning them not to tell who he was. {17} This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: {18} "Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. {19} He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. {20} A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. {21} In his name the nations will put their hope."


          Christians who follow Jesus’ example can help stabilize a culture.


                      But not if we compartmentalize our lives, being Christian in church, and like everyone else at work.

(2 Corinthians 10:1-6 NIV) By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you--I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! {2} I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. {3} For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. {4} The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. {5} We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. {6} And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.


          I have been thinking, recently about our role in society.


          And I began to look at Jesus parables of the Kingdom in a different light.


          A kingdom is comprised of three things: A sovereign, territory, and subjects.


          Christians are the subjects of that kingdom. With that in mind, consider what Jesus may suggest as our role:

(Luke 13:20-21 KJV) And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? {21} It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.


          This is really fascinating, because it suggests a kingdom that is not overpowering, but subtle.


          If you consider Christians as representatives of the Kingdom, then you might understand Jesus to be saying:


          Whereunto shall I like the Christians? They are like leaven . . .


          I think there is an illustration of how this works in contemporary Christian history.


                      When we formed a political action front, we were attacked.


          It is smarter to work out of sight. But we must work. Hard and continuously to change the world around us.


          The time for hiding our light under a bushel is past.

(Matthew 5:11-16 KJV) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. {12} Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. {13} Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. {14} Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. {15} Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. {16} Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.


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