Crazy things happen to our sense of judgment when we get angry.
In February 2009, a 27-year-old woman from Fort Pierce, Florida, walked into a McDonald’s restaurant and ordered a 10-piece McNuggets meal.
Well, that’s when things got really tough for this hungry woman. The person behind the counter took the order and received payment. The McDonald’s employee then discovered that they were out of those bite-sized, warm, tasty McNuggets. The employee told the customer that the restaurant had run out of McNuggets, and she would have to get something else from the menu.
The customer asked for her money back. The employee said all sales are final, and she could have a larger priced item from the menu if she wanted.
The customer got angry. She wanted McNuggets — not a Big Mac, not a McRib, not a Quarter Pounder. She was angry, this was clearly an emergency, and she “knew what to do in an emergency”: she took out her cell phone and called 911 to complain.
Apparently the 911 workers didn’t take her seriously, because the McNuggets-loving woman called 911 three times to get help!
When I heard that story, I then recalled how a few years ago a woman who had experienced some rather serious health problems, was disabled and living in a health care rehabilitation facility. She had pressed her call button one evening to get some help from the staff because she could not get comfortable in her bed.
When they did not respond quite rapidly enough to suit her, she began loudly yelling for help towards the open doorway of her room. When that did not seem to rouse the help she needed as quickly as she thought they should have responded, she was so very angry that she then took her cell phone and called 911.
The EMT squad did respond to her call, but they were not pleased to be called into action for that seemingly minor reason.
The lady at McDonald’s never got her McNuggets that night, but she did later get a ticket from police for misusing 911.
Anger is an emotional arousal caused by something that displeases us.
Anger twists our perspective. It skews our judgment. Anger makes small things big and big things small.
When we’re angry, needing to get comfortable in bed or having to eat a burger instead of McNuggets are disasters, and calling 911 is not a big deal.
The Scriptures have a lot to say about anger and being angry.
We have in the past looked at several passages dealing with anger, but there is a verse to which we have not yet referred. Ephesians 4:26 says this about anger: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
This verse seems to give some leeway in the whole anger department. We see here that in itself, anger is not a sin, because even God can be angry (Deut. 9:8, 20; Ps. 2:12).
Several times in the Old Testament the phrase appears, “the anger of the Lord” (Num. 25:4; Jer. 4:8; 12:13). The holy anger of God is a part of His judgment against sin, and we see this very clearly illustrated in our Lord’s anger when He cleansed the temple (Matt. 21:12-13).
For God to be angry is one thing, but for you and I to get angry is quite another. In this verse (Ephesians 4:26), we are told that we should not let the sun go down on our anger.
According to Jesus, anger is the first step toward murder (Matt. 5:21-26), because anger gives the devil a foothold in our lives, and Satan is a murderer (John 8:44).
When Satan finds anyone with the sparks of anger in his heart, he fans those sparks, adds fuel to the fire, and does a great deal of damage.
In the city of Chicago, in an analysis done some years ago, one out of every 35 deaths is a murder, and most of these murders involve relatives and friends. Two friends get into an argument (often while gambling or drunk), one of them gets angry, pulls a gun or knife, and kills his friend.
Horace was right when he said, “Anger is momentary insanity.”
“Anyone can become angry,” wrote Aristotle. “But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — this is not easy.”
An elderly man stopped in at a church one afternoon and asked the pastor if he would perform a wedding for him.
When the pastor asked to meet with the couple together, the fellow replied, “Before she comes in,” he said, “let me explain this wedding to you. Both of us have been married before — to each other! Over thirty years ago, we got into an argument, I got mad, and we separated. Then we did a stupid thing and got a divorce. I guess we were both too proud to apologize.
“Well, all these years we’ve lived alone, and now we see how foolish we’ve been. Our bitterness has robbed us of the joys of life, and now we want to remarry and see if the Lord won’t give us a few years of happiness before we die.”
Bitterness and anger, usually over trivial things, make havoc of homes, churches, and friendships.
The antidote for anger is forgiveness. Unresolved anger, if not dealt with quickly, becomes bitterness within, and that hardens our heart.
When we fail to forgive, but instead cling desperately to our anger, we are not hurting the person who hurt us; we are only hurting ourselves.
Learning how to forgive when we get angry is one of the secrets of a happy life.
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.