I want to talk to you today about getting angry and what the opposite of getting angry is. We don’t usually hear about the opposite of anger, but I think the opposite of anger is forgiveness. When we are angry very often we are not in place where we are forgiving the person we are angry with.
When we are angry with someone we usually have a degree of hatred for them or for the thing they did that made us angry. Usually we get angry when someone does something against us to hurt us, or we get angry when someone doesn’t do what it is we want them to do. Parents get angry with their children when they don’t get off the computers, or don’t come for dinner when they are called, or don’t do their homework.
As human beings we get angry a lot, and when are angry we are not usually in a state of forgiving the person we are angry with.
Jesus tells a story about a young man who leaves home and lives in a city far from home. While he is away from home the young man spends all his money on alcohol and living with prostitutes. Finally the young man comes to his senses and asks God to forgive him of his sins. The young man goes back home and his father accepts him into the house. But, the young man’s older brother is very angry. It says in the book of Luke: “The older brother was angry.”
Why was the older brother angry? Why wasn’t he happy that his brother was once lost but was now saved? Why wasn’t he glad that his brother was once blind but now could see?
The older brother was angry with his younger brother, but he was also angry with his father. The older brother could not forgive his younger brother for acting foolishly, and the older brother could not forgive his father for treating his younger brother so well. The older brother said to his father: “All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’”
Forgiveness is the opposite of anger. If the older brother would have forgiven his younger brother for his foolishness he would have been happy his brother got saved. If the older brother would have forgiven his father for giving a party for the younger brother, the older brother would have been happy with his father.
King Saul was very angry with a man named David because David was going to be King. King Saul did not like that and he was angry about it. King Saul was jealous that God had chosen David to be King, so King Saul tried to kill David. Once, when David was in the palace, this is what happened: “As David played his harp, Saul hurled his spear at David.” King Saul wanted David dead. Saul wanted to murder David.
Saul was very jealous of David and could not forgive David for wanting to be King. Saul was also angry with God and could not forgive God for choosing someone to replace him as king.
There are many things that make us angry. Very often, if we look into our hearts, we will see that we are either angry with God, or angry with someone else, because we haven’t forgiven them for what they did against us. Or they did something that we did not like.
Even Jesus’ disciples got angry. Once, there were 2 disciples who asked Jesus if they could sit beside Him in heaven after the end of the world. When the other disciples heard what James and John did, they were angry. We read in the Bible: “When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were angry.”
These 10 disciples were angry and indignant. To be indignant means to be angry if you think you are being treated unfairly. These 10 disciples thought it was unfair that John and James would ask Jesus if they could sit beside him in heaven. The 10 disciples did not forgive John and James for their actions and they became angry.
My dear brothers and sisters. I suffer very much from getting angry because I don’t forgive people for what they have done wrong to me, or I get angry with them because they didn’t do what I expected or wanted them to do. I am sorry for my sins in this area. It would be very good for me to learn how to forgive others more for their weaknesses and failures. It would be good for me to accept that others are not perfect, and that others will do things that disturb me.
If you are a Somali Christian you will have to learn to forgive those people who are going to get angry with you because you come out of the closet and say that you are a Christian. People will insult you. Family members will make fun of you. Close friends and family are going to threaten to harm you. Those closest to you may want to kill you.
Jesus said: “Your enemies will be right in your own household! (Matthew 10:36).
So don’t be surprised if the community cuts you off. Don’t be surprised if one day your friends and family are angry with you, then they try to pay you to give up your faith in Jesus. You would be wise to forgive them, and remember what Jesus said when they nailed him to the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice” (Luke 23:34).
Imagine. The king of glory, the Holy One of Israel, God Himself was dying on the cross. Humanity nailed Him to the cross because their hearts were evil. People hated the light so they wanted to kill Jesus, and they did. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Jesus forgave them all. While He was suffering and dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus took the time and energy to say out loud: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Most times people are blind and sinful in what they do that makes us angry. They are selfish and hurtful. We have to remember that we are all like that. It’s not just those “other” people that make us angry. We are the same in what we do. We make others angry but what we do. So let us all remember that none of us is perfect. We have all sinned and gone astray. We have all turned away and done our own thing.
I say, let us try to forgive those who have hurt us. Let us try and remember that they really didn’t know what they were doing, even though it looked like they did. If they really knew how much they were sinning, they probably wouldn’t act the way they did, and either would we. If we knew how much we were hurting others with our own anger, then we wouldn’t be so angry with them.