Monday, July 6, 2009

On Anger Managment

I'm about to be incredibly honest, open, and transparent (that's not so unusual for me).

Here are some thoughts from John Piper that I've been reflecting on this week:

How Strange and Wonderful is the Love of Christ (especially the part about our love of pain-free lives)

What Jesus Demands:
" one decides to get angry. We don’t see an outrageous act of heartless
cruelty and injustice and then ponder whether anger would be a good response and then, after consideration, choose to start feeling the proper level of anger. Nobody lives that way. Anger happens. It’s spontaneous. It is not a rational choice. It is an unpremeditated experience. Something happens, and anger rises in our heart. What
makes it rise when it does, and with the strength and duration it rises, is a combination of the evil we observe and the condition of our mind and heart. Jesus’ demand, therefore, is not that we master the expressions of our anger with self-control, though that is often what duty requires. His demand is that there be a change in our condition. He is calling for a deep inward transformation of mind and heart that does not give rise to the anger we should not have. He described this change in different ways: for example, new birth (Demand #1) and repentance (Demand #2) and faith (Demand #4)...He is not interested in mere psychological and emotional changes. He is interested in newborn disciples who live by faith in his saving work and present help. He shed his blood; we experience forgiveness (Matt. 26:28). He paid the ransom; we are freed from the condemnation and bondage of sin (Mark 10:45; John 8:32). He brought the kingdom of God; we experience God’s transforming rule (Luke 11:20). He is the vine; we are the branches. Without him we can do nothing (John 15:5). That includes obeying the command not to be angry." (p. 138-139)

"Jesus ... shows how closely the kingdom is tied to the power to forgive. He says to Peter and the others who can hear, 'Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants' (Matt. 18:23). It is significant that he calls this parable a comparison to the kingdom of heaven. That means that the triumph over anger through forgiveness is a part of God’s rule (kingdom) in the lives of his people. Forgiveness is not simply a psychological technique for managing human relationships—it is the work of God and the fruit of the forgiveness that Jesus said he would obtain with his own blood (Matt. 26:28)." (p. 146-147)

" help us deal with the anger that naturally arises in our hearts when someone hurts us for the hundredth time. The solution, Jesus says, is to live in the overwhelmingly amazed awareness that we have been forgiven a debt larger than all the wrongs ever done against us. Or to put it another way: We should live in the astonished awareness that God’s anger against us has been removed, though we have sinned against him far more than seventy times seven." (p. 149)

"...the delicate procedure of removing the speck from the eye of our brother would
not be possible. You can’t do delicate, loving eye surgery with a log hanging out of your eye. So the point of Jesus’ words about judging are to show us how the anger of judgmentalism can be broken. It is broken by a broken heart. We live in the consciousness of our own great sinfulness and in the awareness that only the mercy of Jesus can take the log out of our eye with forgiveness and healing. This awareness turns angry judgment into patient and loving forbearance and delicate correc-
tion. Legitimate anger may remain because we are displeased that eye-specks bedevil people we love. But that anger is not the anger of judgmentalism. Good anger is governed by the experience of mercy. " (p. 150)

"We are tempted to be angry not only when we are repeatedly hurt, but when we are told what to do by others—especially if we don’t want to do it. This anger is often rooted in the kind of pride that does not feel any duty or joy in servanthood. But everything Jesus teaches about serving others leads us to experience servanthood another way (cf. Demand #17). Central to being a disciple of Jesus is the willing-
ness to embrace self-denial and cross-bearing: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24)." (p. 150)

"Becoming angry is not a choice we make. It is a fruit on the branch of our lives. The question is: What vine are we a part of? And whose fruit will we bear? The demand of Jesus not to be angry is, therefore, also a demand that we abide in him as our vine. “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). (p. 152)

"Service means doing things out of love that are costly to ourselves but aim to bring
temporal and eternal beneļ¬t to others....The heart of a saved sinner who seeks to follow Jesus does not ask, 'How can I have maximum prestige or applause?' It asks, 'How can I do the greatest good for people who need my help, no matter what it costs
me?' " (p. 133-134)

"One of the crucial roles of servanthood needed in our day is brokenhearted boldness in the proclamation of God’s truth. I mention this because the spirit of relativism in our day has created an atmosphere in which speaking the truth with conviction and calling others to believe it is not considered humble." (p. 134)

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