Sunday, November 16, 2008

Matt's Messages - "Love is Not Easily Angered"

“Love Is Not Easily Angered”
Learning to Love
November 16, 2008
1 Corinthians 13:5

How many here, raise your hand, were hoping that we didn’t get to this phrase?!

“ is not easily angered...”

“Love Is Not Easily Angered.”

I’m willing to bet that everybody here struggles with this.

You may not recognize your struggle with envy or boasting or rudeness, but I’m willing to bet that everybody here can recognize their struggle with quick and sinful anger.

“Love is not easily angered.”

Ooh, I was hoping he wouldn’t talk about me!

Actually, I tried to get out of this one this week. I was saying to wife just yesterday, “I’m having a hard time preaching on being easily angered because it’s just not my besetting sin. I just don’t have that much experience with this one.”

And she gave me that little cock of the head and raised one eyebrow, as if to say, “Are you being serious?”

Well, it was worth a try!

I didn’t know that I could be such an angry man until I had kids and they didn’t just live on my terms, happily obeying all of my rules without my even speaking to them, and always doing what I want.

Kids come along and parents don’t always get their way!

And that began to provoke my sinful anger.

Love is not easily angered.

That word “easily” is important.

It’s not saying that loving people never get angry about anything.

Jesus got good and mad at times. So, for that matter, did His apostles.

There is a time and a place and a way to have righteous anger.

But very seldom is it quick.

Very seldom is it easily reached.

Love is not easily angered.

The King James translates this, “Love is not easily provoked.”

A loving person does not allow themselves to be quickly provoked, pushed, prodded, and poked into anger.

Heather’s favorite translation, the English Standard Version, translates it, “ is not irritable.” I like that. That speaks to me. “It is not irritable.”

Are you irritable?

I’m sure that you don’t want to think of yourself that way, but would what would others say? Others who know you.

One writer unpacks it like this:

“In personal relationships, love is not easily angered; that is, it is not touchy, with a blistering temper barely hidden beneath the surface of a respectable facade, just waiting for an offense, real or imagined, at which to take umbrage” [Carson, Showing the Spirit
, pg. 62]. That’s really good.

The book of Proverbs has a category for someone who is easily angered.

Solomon calls someone like that a “hot-tempered man.”

We can easily see how anger like this rips through our relationships.

Our marriages.

Perhaps some of the couples in this room could give us a testimony of a hot-tempered moment that happened today, maybe on the way to worship!

The other night, Heather and I were traveling to a ministry-related meeting, and we were doing just fine and then I made a little joke that had too much of an edge to it. Heather didn’t think it sounded like a joke. And I immediately flamed up inside and started to defend my little joke–I was instantly mad that she had called me on it.

And all of sudden our evening–on the way to do ministry together–was sour.

And that was just a little one, for which she has forgiven me.

But what happens when our marriages are marked by hot-tempers?

Someone’s going to get hurt.

How about in our parenting?

What does a hot-tempered parent produce?

Either one of two things. Hot-tempered-children or living-in-fear-children. Maybe both.

Proverbs 22:24&25 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.”

What if you can’t get away from him. What if he’s your Dad? Or she’s your Mom?

How about at work?

Don’t you just love the hot-tempered co-workers? Don’t you just want to be around them? Aren’t you glad they’re on your team?

Or turn it around. Do people avoid you at work? Do you think it could be because you’re hard to be around? You’re irritable? You’re easily provoked?

Same is true at school, in the neighborhood, on the soccer field and the basketball court.

And at church.

Have you ever been afraid to express your opinion about something at church because you’re afraid of what some hothead may say or do or think about it?

I have. And I have probably intimidated some of you, too. And I’m sorry for the times I have.

Paul told the church in Ephesians 4 to work out their anger so as to not give the devil a foothold.

Satan loves to work anger into the midst of a church.

One writer says it this way: “Within the church, it is easy to see how those who are easily provoked to anger carelessly frighten, hurt, and divide people. They invite and accentuate conflict.”

“Angry people are focused not on others but on their own emotions and issues [notice how that fits with self-seeking from last week]. When leaders are angry, problems are exaggerated, mis-communication and misunderstanding abound, and objectivity and reason disappear. When anger rules, small problems become big explosions that can blow a church to pieces” [Alexander Strauch, Leading with Love, pg. 67-68].

And many in this room can identify with that.

Anger is one of the most destructive forces in the universe for relationships.

But that’s not the way its supposed to be in our relationships.

Love is not easily angered.

Loving people don’t get hot fast.

Now, I keep saying “hot,” but there is a cold kind of anger, too, isn’t there?

There is an anger that is obvious and on the surface and revealed for all to see.

And there is a hidden anger, a concealed anger that is just as deadly, isn’t it?

And sometimes I think I’d rather deal with a hot-head than someone who kills you with a cold-blooded look.

I once knew a couple who lived in the same house and for a year didn’t talk to each other–for a year!

Love is not easily angered.

So, another way of saying it is “Love is slow to anger.”

How do we get like that?

How do we become more loving people and less prone to irritability?

It’s not just automatic. Automatic is anger. Slow to anger is something supernatural. It’s something we’ve got to learn. Something that’s got to be worked inside of us.

And it’s more than just “Count to 10.”

That sounds great, but there’s this stuff in my heart. I can’t just “Count to 10!” I need more than that.

Let me suggest seven biblical applications today for uprooting our anger.

These are not everything that could be said, but I think they’re some of the main things that will actually make a difference.


One person has said that there are two fundamental realities in the world: there is a God and you’re not Him.

But when we get sinfully angry, we forgot that.

We think that we are God, or at least, that we should be.

You and I tend to think of anger as primarily an emotion. It does have an emotional component. But it is also a thought that we have. It’s a mind-set. It’s a judgment we make.

My friend, Bob Jones puts it this way:
It starts when we legislate required behavior for another. We may or may not choose to tell the other person. For example:

• When thou drivest thine automobile, thou shalt not turn to the left or to the right in front of me, except thou signalist thine intention to do so with thy turn signal.

• Thou shalt not let the sun go down on my phone call or e-mail, but thou shalt return it today, while it is still called today.

• Thou shalt love me the way I want to be loved, with thy whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.

If you break one of my statutes, I log your violation in my mental record book. I may or may not present the evidence to you, depending on my preference (after all, I can do whatever I want in my imaginary world in which I divinely reign!). In either case, I am both the star witness and the chief prosecutor against you. Moreover, I play both judge and executioner. I sound the gavel, pronounce you guilty, sentence you to whatever punishment within my power, and mete out justice.
Does that sound familiar? That’s what goes on, sometimes in a split second when we are easily angered.

We need to remember that we are not God. We don’t call the shots. We don’t see things the way they really are. We are not the judge. We are not the prosecutor. We are not the executioner.

That’s why James says this in chapter 1 of his letter:

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, [why?] for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

We are not God.

How our relationships would be different if we could keep that in mind!

It would be obvious to us to be quick to listen. We’d be humbled. And slow to speak–we’d be cautious. And slow to be become angry.

God is God. And we are not.


I looked up in my Bible program how many times the words “slow” and anger or angry come up.

How many times do you think? Just 10 times.

One times is this James 1:19&20. And that’s talking about us, calling us to be slow to anger.

Guess whom all the rest of them are about?

The Lord.

Most of them come from His self-revelation to Moses when He showed Him the tail-end of His glory.

Remember that? Exodus 34?

The Lord talking about Himself? “He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness...”

And the other 8 occurrences talk about how that’s exactly how God has treated His children!

God is slow to anger.

And friends, God has much more to be angry about than you and I do.

He’s slow to anger.

Aren’t you glad for that?

God is not irritable. God is not resentful. God doesn’t have a hair-trigger.

Consider how God has been slow to anger with you.

Does that change things in your relationships?

Young people, does that change how you might respond to your teacher, your coach, your parent, your brother or sister?

God, the King of the Universe has been slow to anger with you!

Can you let up a little?

Do you want to be godly? You have to be slow to anger.

Let’s take it a step further.

Not only was He slow to anger. But He sent His Son to absorb His anger against us.


God was not easily angered, but He was righteously angered at our sin.

He cannot be neutral about our God-dishonoring behavior, falling short of His glory, rebelling against His standards, thinking, wanting, and doing what displeases God.

He hates sin. And He will bring righteous judgment against it.

But He so loved you and me that He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus, to absorb His just wrath–His burning anger.

That’s what was happening on that Cross!

The Anger of God met the Love of God and Jesus took our punishment.

He took our punishment for all of our sin–including the sin of rash anger.

Every time I’ve snapped at my kids. Every time I’ve raised my voice in a self-serving way. Every time I’ve made someone else the butt of quick joke–I was heaping up wrath–and the Father placed it all on His Son.

That’s the gospel, friends.

My irritability on Jesus. The wages of irritability is death.

And Jesus died for me. And for you, if you’ll trust Him.

But He didn’t stay dead, did He?!

Jesus was raised to life to give us life.

To give us love.

And to help us to love others.

We don’t have to be irritable any longer. We’ll still be tempted to be irritable–and sometimes it will be so hard that we will give in. But we don’t have to be.

Jesus has died for us, in our place.

The Cross changes everything.

Can you see how this, if we can keep the gospel in mind, changes how we relate to others?

Why would I want to be irritable if Jesus has absorbed the anger of God against me?

Doesn’t that change everything?

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” - Psalm 103:11&12

Remember, how Jesus absorbed the anger of God against you.

That assumes that you have trusted in His perfect sacrifice. If you have not yet, I invite you to do so today.

Believe the Gospel. Repent of your sins and trust in Jesus.

And if you do, then the power of gospel can increasingly empower you to say no to sinful anger.

That’s number 4.


This presupposes that God has done a work in your heart. You can’t just choose to do this and have any lasting change.

But if you belong to Christ, you can do this. You can repent.

And it’s repenting, in the moment, turning in the moment away from self and to others. Away from anger and to love.

That guy cuts you off? You don’t have to flip the finger.

That co-worker does that irritating thing again? You don’t have to sigh so loudly.

Your spouse is late? You don’t have to ream them out the second you see them.

Turn. Turn, in the moment, away from the temptation to be provoked and turn towards others and love.

Number five is related.


This, also, takes the Holy Spirit to really work.

Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It’s not just something that we can work up.

But if the Holy Spirit has free reign in our lives, then we can discipline ourselves to wait before we get angry.

You know why that’s important?

Because snap-judgments are often wrong-judgments. Right?

How many times have we gotten angry so fast, only to find out that we were wrong about what was happening?

Wait before getting angry.

Proverbs 25:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”

That’s hot or cold anger. Hold off and see what’s really up before you react.

But even when the offenses are real, we can still grow in love by overlooking them.


Yes, people are going to sin against you.

But you can rise about a lot of those offenses. They don’t all have to be confronted.

Proverbs 19:11 (Hasn’t it been interesting to see how many Proverbs help us in our quest of learning to love? Proverbs is a book about a lot of things, but one of those things is how to love others skillfully!). Proverbs 19:11 – “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.:

Notice the connection again between patience and kindness. This is love. Wisdom leads to patience which leads to overlooking offenses which is to our glory!

Now, we’re going to talk more about this next week when we consider our phrase [which you should memorize in the next 7 days], “ keeps no record of wrongs.”

But here’s the practical point. If you can go on without the relationship being disrupted, then you can learn to overlook a lot of offenses.

Husbands and wives.
Siblings. Adult Siblings!
Co-workers. Bosses and Employees. Vendors and Contractors.
Teachers and Students. Administration.
Church members.

If you can go on without the relationship truly being hindered, then you can learn to overlook a lot of offenses.

Just let it go.

Those sins are paid for at the Cross, or they will catch up to them.

But you don’t have to be the one to do the catching.

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

Love covers over a multitude of sins.

Love is not easily angered.

I want to sum it up with this one:


When am I slow to anger?

When I am close to Christ.

Around here, we call it, “a love relationship with Jesus Christ.”

When we are walking in fellowship with Him, we remember that we are not God. And we remember that God has been slow to anger with us. And we remember that Jesus has absorbed God’s anger at us.

And that empowers us to turn, in the moment and love us. And discipline ourselves to wait before getting angry. And learn to overlook offenses as they come.

What would it be like if this week, we got our hearts stocked up with Christ so that we were slow to anger in all of our relationships?

What difference would that make?

How would it change our relationships?

How would it glorify God?

How would it open up doors for the gospel?

Let’s not just look into the mirror of the Word and agree that we can be angry people.

Let’s gaze into the mirror and let the Lord change us.

So that we can be a blessing to others.


really a great great help... iv bn struggling with it for a long time... hhhhmmm thank u so much.

Glad it was helpful to you!

I really recommend the book by my friend Bob Jones: Uprooting Anger.