Chatting at coffee after church yesterday, I said, “I think most men in the church are angry.” Not just the church; watch the news. Watch people at work. I’ve preached about anger over the years, and watching the crowd during the sermon, I’ve been struck by the attention of men to the topic.
A critical question every preacher should ask as he begins to think about the next sermon is, “How can I get into the hearer’s heart?” In a similar way, as you sit and listen to a sermon, monitor your own heart: “How do these words touch my inmost being?” Jesus teaches, “out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). The Bible is clear that God’s truth has to go down to the heart. While our Christian faith is not based upon emotions but upon the objective Word of God, emotions point to how original sin continues in our hearts. God put His Law into our hearts at creation (Genesis 1:26). Although the fall into sin blurred that inborn Law, it’s still present (Romans 2:14-15). The inborn Law stirs up original sin in order to show our brokenness and need for the Savior who reconciles us to God (Galatians 3:24). This is not only true for those who do not yet know Jesus; it continues to be true for us who believe in Him.
Anger against another person is expressed in four possible ways: inner thoughts and feelings, gestures, words, and finally actual murder. Anger is one example of how Jesus’ forgiveness for our sins can reach deep down into our beings, how emotions explained theologically take us to the Word of our only Savior. As God forgives our confessed anger against others, He leads us to forgive and experience the emotional release of forgiving those who have sinned against us. For myself, I’m less angry than I used to be, but there are still plenty of times. God, have mercy!
And last night the Bears lost….
(This Minute is largely from “Word Alive,” available at www.tripillarpublishing.com.