Anger is an emotion many people allow to control their lives. As a result, their anger causes many problems in their own lives and in the lives of others. Jesus told a story about king's servant who allowed anger to take charge of his life. Consequently, his anger ruined his life. Before we look deeper into the life of the angry servant, let's look at the cause and consequences of anger.
THE MAJOR CAUSE OF ANGER
Someone does something we wish he or she had not done.
When someone does something we wish he had not done, we get mad. We allow what that person did to trigger an angry response in us. That person can be a child, spouse, family member, neighbor, co-worker, public figure, or a total stranger. When this happens, we will typically say something like, "You make me so mad." or "That person makes me so mad." Then, that person becomes the object of our anger, rage, and wrath. In reality, no one can make us mad. We choose to get mad. When we blame someone else for our angry response, we fail to take responsibility for our own actions and attitudes. Ultimately, we are saying we have no control over our own attitudes and actions, and that our attitudes and actions are controlled by the person who did something that triggered our anger. Furthermore, we feel justified in our anger because we think the person is deserving of our anger and to not get angry is to let them off the hook.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANGER
We damage ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally when we become angry.
We damage others (children, spouse, etc...) physically, emotionally, and mentally when we become angry.
We ruin our relationships with people.
We lose respect from people.
We lose jobs and opportunities.
Sadly, most people never see the damage their anger is causing to themselves and others. They believe they are right in becoming angry with those who do wrong. So they continue a pattern of anger without ever admitting they have an anger problem.
Now, back to the story of the angry servant. Jesus told the story of the angry servant in response to a question asked him by Peter. Peter asked Jesus the question, "How many times should we forgive a person when he sins against us? Up to seven times?" Jesus replied, "Seventy times-seven?" By this, Jesus meant every time, or unconditional and unlimited forgiveness.
To illustrate unconditional and unlimited forgiveness, Jesus told the story of a servant who owed the king a debt of one million dollars. The servant had no ability to repay the debt. Seeing the servant's inability to repay the debt, the king gracefully forgave his one million dollar debt. The servant then went out to demand immediate repayment from those who owed him money. The amount owed him by those he demanded payment from was only a few dollars. Compared to the million dollars he owed the king, that was a very small amount. When those who owed the servant were unable to pay, he immediately became very angry, had them arrested, and thrown into debtor's prison.
In our minds we think, how could the servant get so mad at others when he himself had been given so much grace by the king? But think about it, many times we respond the same way. We get mad at others when we have been the recipient of God's generous grace. We have been given so much grace by God in his forgiveness of our own sins. Yet, rather than give this same grace, this forgiveness to others, we get mad. We who have been released from our sin debts, angrily become debt collectors of others. In reality, when we do this, we are no different than the servant. We are the servant.
The servant was eventually brought back before the king and thrown into debtor's prison. To conclude the story, Jesus says, "Our heavenly Father will treat us in the same manner if we do not forgive others from the heart."
So what do we do? Thankfully, there is more to the Bible after Matthew 18:35. Eventually, Jesus went to the cross and paid the sin debt for all of our sins. All our sins are forgiven. Following the cross, God no longer relates to us based upon how we treat others. He now relates to us based upon what Jesus has done for us. Jesus was thrown into debtor's prison prison for us, so to speak, when he died for us. Because we have been forgiven by God through Jesus, we now forgive others the way we have been forgiven...with unconditional and unlimited forgiveness. Ephesians 4:31 says, "Get rid of anger...forgiving one another just as God in Christ has forgiven us."
This is how we get rid of anger. We get rid of anger when we choose to give grace rather than get mad. When we give grace, people become the object of our unconditional and unlimited forgiveness given to us in Jesus, rather than objects of our anger. Just like we have become the object of God's grace through his forgiveness of our sins in Jesus, others become the object of this same grace.
So the next time someone does something you wish he or she had not done, let it trigger in you grace. Choose to give grace rather that get mad. Make people the object of your grace, rather than choosing to get angry.
And how many times should we give grace? Up to seven times? No, seventy-times seven...unconditional and unlimited forgiveness. The same forgiveness that has been graciously given to us. And when you do, watch your health and relationships improve, respect increase, and positive impact on others grow!