Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. — James 1:19–20
WELCOME | Read on your own
People think I’m crazy when I talk about this topic...
... until they don’t. (I hope.)
Most of us have grown up with a certain idea about “good anger” (or “righteous anger”) and “bad anger” (“unrighteous anger”). But I’m going to challenge what we think we know.
Re-thinking (literally, what repenting means), is difficult for me. I get stuck in my own ideas very easily. But this is how we grow. I’m convinced God has things to show us, and if we’re open to them, it’ll require a lifetime of re-thinking that leads us to better ways of living.
So, if this topic today is particularly challenging for you — and what I’m saying is certainly counter-intuitive to the ways of our culture — thanks for giving it a shot.
CONNECT | 15 minutes
If you or any of your group members don’t know each other, take a few minutes to introduce yourselves. Then, to get things started, discuss one of the following questions:
- How would you describe your primary goal or hope for participating in this study? (In other words, why are you here?)
— or —
- On a scale of 1 (rarely) to 10 (regularly), how often do you experience the emotion of anger in a significant way? Explain your response.
WATCH | 20 minutes
Now it’s time to watch the video for this session. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you.
I.The main idea of this study is counterintuitive, and it might even seem a little crazy at first. But here it is — we can choose to be unoffendable.
1.There is a way that we normally process ideas. We want to be affirmed... and if we’re not, we get angry!
2.As Christians, we’ve been taught that anger is sometimes awesome and sometimes terrible. We’ve been taught that there is righteous anger and non-righteous anger.
3.We believe that we are supposed to get offended at times because there is righteous anger. And we are to stay angry because we are supposed to stand up for what is right.
II.The reality is that while the Bible has a lot to say about anger, very little of it is positive — especially when it comes to human anger.
A.A verse that people often memorize to justify their anger is Ephesians 4:26:
When you are angry, do not sin. — NCV
Anger is not a sin... so therefore we should get angry.
1.But this is not the whole verse. The second half of Ephesians 4:26 tells us to
be sure to stop being angry by the end of the day. — NCV
We’re supposed to get rid of it.
2.The Bible is very consistent on this point. But unfortunately, what we often do is try to justify our anger and conflate it with God’s anger.
III.The reality is that there is no such thing as righteous anger in the Bible for humans. It doesn’t exist.
A.There is such a thing as righteous anger in the Bible — it just belongs to God. He is entitled to vengeance because He can be trusted with it. Instead, we are supposed to do something very different, radical, and countercultural. We are supposed to forgive other people.
B.In James 1:20, we read that our anger can’t be used in the service of producing God’s righteousness. The world needs us to take action, not to get angry.
C.Our anger doesn’t do anybody any good. In fact, it only clouds our judgment. What the world needs are people who actually do things motivated not by anger but by love.
IV.The work of a follower of Jesus is to serve as an instrument of forgiveness in the world.
1.Jesus told a story about an unmerciful servant to demonstrate how important forgiveness is in our lives. We have been forgiven of a great debt, just like the servant. For us to then turn around and not forgive others is counter to how the kingdom of God works.
2.Jesus is giving us an easier life. Yes, forgiveness is hard, but it’s way better than living our entire lives thinking we’re supposed to be angry at everybody for what they’ve done.
3.We can actually say at the beginning of the day, “I’m going to forgive people. Stuff is going to happen, but this is what it means to follow Jesus, and I’m going to do it.”
DISCUSS |35 minutes
Take some time to discuss what you just watched by answering the following questions. There are some suggested questions below to help you begin your discussion, but feel free to use any of the additional questions as well as time allows.
- Our foundational beliefs and opinions about anger are often formed in our younger years, especially in light of our families. We learn what anger is and how to process it by observing those closest to us. What were you taught about anger as a child?
- The phenomenon of “righteous anger” is not only prevalent in the church but also in our culture. There is a sense that sometimes we are correct to be angry or even that we are supposed to be angry. How has your life been shaped by this idea of righteous anger?
- Forgiveness is the antidote to anger. It’s what helps us let go of anger. Thinking back to your past, when have you experienced the power of forgiveness in a meaningful way?
- Another key to successfully letting go of anger in your life is to recognize (and remember) just how good, gracious, and merciful God has been with you. What are some of the biggest ways you have been influenced by God’s goodness and grace?
- Think about some of the specific ways our culture offers its opinions about anger — through movies, TV shows, books, news headlines, celebrity headlines, and so on. How would you summarize the message our culture is teaching about anger?
- Now do the same exercise for forgiveness. What are the most consistent messages our culture communicates when it comes to the value and practice of forgiveness?
- What is the point of Jesus’ story that He told to His disciples about the unmerciful servant? What does the story reveal about the way God expects us to treat one another?
- Let’s say you decided right now to forgive someone—to let go of your “right” to be angry at that person and instead to offer the same forgiveness to him or her that you have received from God. What would that process look like?
RESPOND |10 minutes
As mentioned in the video, Christians sometimes use Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:26,
When you are angry, do not sin. — NCV,
as divine permission to hold on to their anger. So, as you close out your time this week, take a look at that verse in its broader context to see what Paul was actually saying about anger. Do this on your own and then share as a group as time allows.
What is the main message that these words from Paul communicate about anger?
When have you been able to “get rid” of something harmful in your life?
What commands are contained in this passage that followers of Jesus should obey?
PRAY |10 minutes
Praying for one another is one of the most important things you can do as a community. So use this time wisely and make it more than just a “closing prayer” to end your group experience. Be intentional about sharing your prayers, reviewing how God is answering your prayers, and actually praying for each other as a group. When you do come to a close, express your desire to obey God on these subjects of anger and forgiveness. Ask Him to speak with your group over the next several sessions and reveal His will for any anger that is present in your lives — and what to do with it. Use the space below to write down any requests mentioned so that you and your group members can continue to pray about them in the week ahead.
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Come share your thoughts on the myth of righteous anger. We want to hear from you about being unoffendable.