Life Of A Disciple In The World 4

The Seven Deadly Sins
Session 4: Anger- Hearts Frozen Into Fists

Core Teaching:            Anger causes us to sin.  We all get Angry.  Mature Christians deal with Anger differently.

Session Goals:            This session focuses on the 3rd Deadly Sin, Anger.  Students should be able to identify Anger in their own lives, see how the Bible says to deal with our Anger, and commit to moving toward a mature Christian response to the anger they will experience in life.

Supplies:                        Bibles, Whiteboard/Newsprint, Markers, Masking Tape, Sunday’s Newspaper, a copy of the Student Leader                                                 Help Sheet for each discussion/small group leader.

Memory Verse:            Ephesians 4:26-27 NRSV

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.

(Write on the Board and encourage Youth to memorize this week.)

Scripture:

Matthew 5:21-24 NRSV
John 2:13-22 NRSV
Romans 12:19-21 NRSV
Ephesians 5:1-11 NRSV

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Class Session

Opening Prayer- Student

Announcements, Attendance, and Offering- Teacher

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Introduction to the Lesson- Teacher

Anger.  It is a Deadly Sin we all try to justify.  Anger is our emotional response to being unjustly humiliated.  We seek to punish or harm the person who hurts us because of our outrage.  Vengeance rather than justice is what the Angry person seeks.  Anger is something we all have at one time or another.  It confronts us daily in the actions of others around us or in world events.

 

“Of the seven deadly sins, anger is the most pervasive, injurious to self and others, and most responsible for unhappiness and psychopathological behavior.  It is also inextricably linked to the other cardinal sins, particularly pride and envy, as well as hatred, and it is regularly aroused by frustrated greed and lust.” 

(Solomon Schimmel, The Seven Deadly Sins: Jewish, Christian, and Classical Reflections on Human Psychology, Oxford, 1997, p. 83)

 

Anger is often portrayed in cartoons by the Angry character turning bright RED.  Sometimes Anger builds slowly; sometimes Anger explodes quickly.  You can think of these two ways as being “Crock Pot” Anger and “Powder Keg” Anger.  Slow brooding Anger that “stews” all day, all week, all year long does immeasurable harm to the Angry individual.  Explosive Anger can spark violence that only leads to even more destruction and pain and can quickly harm others as well as the self.  Anger causes us to make a fist rather than to open our hearts to others.  That is NOT the Christ-like response to injury.

 

Today we are going to focus on this Anger and 3 distinct ways Christians think about Anger and deal with it in their lives.

 

Small Group Discussions- Student Leaders

Key Questions (These should be answered during the discussion below)

  1. What is anger?
  2. Why did Jesus put anger and murder in the same category?
  3. When is anger not a sin?
  4. How can we respond to anger in light of God’s justice?

Big Issue

What we say and do can control our life’s course.  It influences how we feel, and how we feel influences what we do.  Expressing an emotion often causes us to feel the emotion more intensely.  Anger is an emotion.

 

“You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.”

James 1:19-21 NRSV

What we do with our anger, no matter how justified it may be, can have huge consequences for good or for evil.  It is important to be able to express our anger in a healthy way.  Our life with Christ should have a major effect on how we deal with our anger.

 

“Anger is self-defeating, it is self-destructive, and it is contrary to the will of God.  Anger motivates us to do things which are inconsistent with Christian values.”  (Anthony Campolo, Seven Deadly Sins, Victor, 1987, p. 73.)

Faith Link

Anger and Murder- Read Matthew 5:21-24 to the group.

  • What is Jesus talking about here?
  • What does Jesus connect anger to?
  • How does anger relate to our spiritual health?

q  Jesus put anger in the same category as murder.  If that seems harsh, consider the consequences of anger in the lives of people and in the history of the world.

  • Can you think of any Biblical examples of somebody committing Murder out of anger?
  • What happens when we cause anger in others?

q  Anger causes murder, provokes torture, leads to wars, and many other unspeakable acts of violence.  Anger stimulates spiteful actions that go far beyond retributive justice and can result in the suffering of innocent people.  Anger knows no limits when it leads to vengeance.

  • How can reconciliation “make things right” in a situation that grows out of anger?

Anger and Righteous Indignation- Read John 2:13-22.

q  Anger is not always sin.  Not all anger is wrong.

  • Does it surprise you that Jesus gets angry in this story?
  • What do you think made Jesus so angry?

q  Jesus is exhibiting moral power here.  Jesus’ moral force is set against the wrongdoing of those who are taking advantage of God’s people in God’s house.  Jesus’ righteousness (right relationship with God) gives him this moral force.

  • Have you ever witnessed righteous anger like Jesus exhibits here?

q  Only the anger of a humble person has the moral force that can be rightly labeled “Righteous Indignation.”  Only the truly humble can be angry without sinning.

  • Why?

q  Because this anger is not the result of personal hurt or wounded pride.  It is anger for a righteous cause, anger against that which violates God’s way and/or hurts others.

  • What are some things that should cause “Righteous Anger” in Christians?
  1. When we discover landlords in our community charging the poor exorbitant rent for houses not fit for human habitation
  2. When the criminal justice system punishes lightly a white-collar crime involving millions of dollars yet comes down oppressively on a poor person who steals food or clothing
  3. When government systems spend more on weapons of mass destruction than on hungry children or caring for the elderly
  4. When Churches spend more on themselves than they do on the world in need

q  Few of us can claim our anger is righteous however.  It is rare when our anger does not have our personal self-interest mixed up in it.

Anger and God’s Justice- Read Romans 12:19-21 to the group.

q  “Life isn’t fair, but life isn’t God.”

  • How do you react to this statement?
  • How does it relate to the Romans passage?
  • Do you think life or God is unfair?

q  Wanting revenge is an expression of anger.  Sometimes this vengeful attitude can be addressed to ourselves and not just others.  If we are angry with ourselves we may punish ourselves in the same way we might seek revenge on someone else.

  • When you get angry at yourself, how do you deal with it?
  • Do you ever get angry at God?

q  We don’t have to be angry with God or with ourselves.  We don’t have to be held in bondage to a “life isn’t fair” attitude.  When we get angry at God or ourselves, it is a sign of our bondage.  The desire for revenge that flows from this bondage shows our distrust of the love, righteousness, and justice of God.  The Deadly Sin of Anger denies the love and justice of God.

  • Do you think God is just?
  • How do you repay evil in your own life?
  • What do you think about Paul’s advice in this passage from Romans?

q  Hate creates more hate.  Love drives out hate and can transform our enemy into our friend.  Martin Luther King Jr., in his sermon “Loving Your Enemies” give us several practical reasons for following Paul’s advice:

  • Share the following with the group and ask for reactions
  • “To our most bitter opponents we say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering…We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because non co-operation with evil is…a moral obligation…Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you.  But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer.  One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves.  We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”  (Strength To Love, page 40)

Life Application

Read Ephesians 5:1-11

  • How does this Scripture address Anger in your everyday relationships?

q  We can’t give our sins to Jesus; rather we give ourselves to Jesus and he takes our sin from us and gives us the power to overcome sin’s grip.  The Gospel is always an Invitation and an Imperative: You are a child of God, now become a child of God!  You are a new person in Christ, grow up into that new person!

q  The walk of a Christian is a walk of grace.  We receive pardon from the work of Christ.  We receive power from the work of the Spirit.  We walk a walk of discipline, exercising our freedom to imitate Christ by living in love.  This is the way we deal with the Deadly Sins.

q  With Anger, there are 4 areas of discipline which we need:

  1. Let go.  We can never move on from our anger until we let it go.  We must deliberately, in an act of will, empowered by Christ, honestly confront our anger, and any resentment or bitterness.  The mature Christian lets go of their anger.
  2. Throw away the list.  We all keep lists of past wrongs.  Those lists keep us anchored in the past, always a victim, always looking for more of the same.  The mature Christian throws away the list of past wrongs.
  3. Name your feelings.  Carrying a grudge or desiring revenge grows out of our inability to express our anger to the one who hurt us.  Naming and verbalizing our anger can reduce its power over us.  Being able to receive acceptance, perspective, and feedback from others helps us think clearly and act decisively for the good.  The mature Christian names when they are angry.
  4. Forgive.  Forgiveness and anger can not live in the same house.  You can not resent somebody and forgive them at the same time.  They are like fire and water.  The water may put out the fire or the fire may vaporize the water.  Whichever there is more of will prevail.  The mature Christian forgives.
  • “In the act of forgiveness we are declaring our faith in the future of a relationship and in the capacity of the wrongdoer to make a new beginning on a course that will be different from the one that caused us the wrong.  We are saying here is a chance to make a new beginning.  It is an act of faith that the wrongdoer can change.” (Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness, Doubleday, 1999, Page 273.)
  • Hasn’t God already acted this way toward us?

q  Take the Sunday morning paper and cut out a few articles that give tangibles examples of what has been discussed today.  Post these on the wall with a label above saying “Anger” so they may be referred to in future weeks.  If there is not time for this in class, ask for volunteers to get it done before next week.

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Joys and Concerns- Teacher- Write these on a piece of butcher paper.

Closing Prayer- Student

O Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

Amen.

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

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