Anger, Honesty, and a Foothold for Destruction

We've spent a lot of time in the last few weeks talking about anger and honesty. 

Just a Lie - The Forgotten But Beautiful Trait of Honesty
Falsehood, Lies, and A Culture of Deception
The Emperor's Seed - A Chinese Parable
Be Angry, But Do Not Sin
How To Handle Our Anger

So what's the point?

"Having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil" (Eph 4:25-27 ESV).

If we express our anger inappropriately, let it build up destructively, disguise who we really are, or refuse to be honest and real with our friends, neighbors, and co-workers, then we give opportunity for the devil to work in our life.   And if we are in a church, the opportunity to destroy the work he is trying to do.

God desires us to be His kingdom - people in healthy, authentic relationships with one another who love Him and each other and who seek to bring His will about here on earth.  Handling our anger inappropriately and behaving falsely are two direct attacks to us being the church he intends for us to be.  I want to live the plan God has for my life and the community I am involved in.  For us to become that healthy community God wants us to be, it takes each one of us to commit to following God in all areas of our lives and to strive for our relationships with one another to be what God wants them to be. 

The devil can really only do one thing to hurt us, and that is to negatively influence the relationships we are in, whether that is our relationship with God or with one another.  If we have healthy relationships, we can make it through any sort of tough times.  If we don't have healthy relationships, every problem seems insurmountable. 

That's why small groups are so important.  Small groups are just a way that we can have deliberate relationships with one another in a society that keeps us running around and occupied with superficial relationships.  Our small groups are not about being another bible study or prayer meeting, although that happens and can help build community.  Small group time is about building relationships and hanging out; they are about us living and dreaming together.  These are things we need to value if we are going to impact this community the way God would have us impact it.  So I challenge you to get involved in a Christian small group if you are not already.  I'm not going to say that it has to be a formal small group of a church although those are always there, and I'm sure you would be welcomed.  What we each need is to be involved in a group of Jesus-minded people that meet regularly who are going to be open and honest with one another, desire to have friendships with one another, work through difficulties they encounter together, carry those relationship throughout the week, and stick together through thick and thin.  It can be a group of ladies getting together for coffee or guys going golfing, but the key is to have a group of people that you meet with on a consistent basis that aren't going to abandon one another at the first sign of trouble.

A study released last week by the UK's Chartered Institute of IT showed that internet and cell phone use make people happier.  Most advances in technology in the last one hundred years have led to us being more self-sufficient, which fit in with the American ideal of individualism.  This attempt to strive for self-sufficiency has led to a deterioration of healthy relationships, and this lack of healthy relationships has led to isolation and loneliness.  With the technological advances of the last hundred years, our happiness did not increase.  But now we are seeing technology that helps us connect with one another, and the study showed that these advances are making us happier.  Is it because the internet and cell phones are just unbelievably cool?  Not likely.  It's because they help us have the relationships with one another that we were designed to have.  They help us connect with one another in a world that has learned to live disconnected.

For us to make relationships a priority in our life, we have to believe at the core of our being that happiness does not come from independence, money, being popular, or any other temporal pedestal.  It comes from being connected to God and people in real, authentic relationships.  Losing our independence, money, or popularity might be necessary to us being connected.  How much money is a relationship worth to you?  How much independence would you be willing to give up to have a healthy one?  Would you be concerned about what people might think if you hanged out with so-and-so?  When we have goals that supercedes healthy relationships, we will open ourselves up to being fake and not dealing with anger properly and unhappiness will follow.

We live in a disposable culture.  We get Happy Meal toys that are good for a few weeks and then are thrown in the trash.  We buy printers that last a year and are discarded.  We have so much food that our pets are given trash that is better than what many humans have to live on.  In the midst of this disposable culture, we have also learned to have disposable relationships.  If we have a problem with a person, we just move on.  But to be the diverse people that God would have us to be, to be a reflection of His kingdom to those around us, to be people in real, authentic relationships, we need to work through our problems when there are differences.  We need to never let falsehood creep in or anger overtake us.  We need to love one another through those differences, and we need to keep focused on the goal - to be people in real, authentic relationships under Jesus with one another.  That's where true happiness rests.  That's where the kingdom of God resides.