Sermon Date: August 30, 2015
Sermon By: Pastor Dale Raether
Scripture: Ephesians 4:29-5:2
God's Love Heals Our Hurt and Anger
Do you know anyone with anger issues? We’re pretty good at spotting people who have them. If you’re driving the speed limit, and someone passes you and cuts you off because you’re driving the speed limit, he could have an anger issue. Or, if someone’s favorite line is, “you always…” or “you never…”, he/she might have an anger issue. What about you? Do you have an anger issue? They’re easy to get. If someone we trust uses us for a verbal punching bag, or worse, tells terrible lies about us behind our back, we can only take so many hits before our hurt makes us angry. And then if this goes on and on, without realizing it, we become the one who’s getting ticked off at other people’s driving, or we’re the ones starting our sentences with “you always” or “you never.”
This world is full of anger. But if we’re going to make a difference in dialing down that anger, we all need to first take a good look at ourselves. See those compounding hurts that are too painful to think about. See the anger that’s bubbling deep down inside. As Christians we would like to be free of it all. We’d like to be filled with the Spirit’s fruit of kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But there’s a barrier. It’s our sinful nature, which we sometimes feed with whatever unhealed hurt and anger that may be in us. If this describes you, would we you like to be made whole again? In our text this morning God Heals Our Hurt and Anger. Here’s how: 1. He sealed us for heaven. 2. He made us His dearly loved children.
1. He sealed us for heaven.
Our text reads: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. – Ephesians 4:30 If we keep focusing on what others did to us and what we’re missing out on as a result, we’re just pouring salt in our own wounds. We need instead to focus on how God is blessing us. Jesus is preparing a place for us in heaven. He’s doing this by causing us to grow in our faith and living our faith, be it ever so slowly. It has to be slow, because if our growth comes too quickly, our sinful pride will take the credit, and we’ll be missing the humility and gentleness God wants us to have. On the other hand by letting our growth take a lifetime, we learn to walk on water a step at a time like Peter did. And yes, we often may start to sink, like Peter, because we take our eyes off Jesus. Yet Jesus is always right there to lift us up again for another step. And then someday before we know it, we’ll step on to the heavenly shore. When we do, and when we see all that Jesus has personally prepared for us, we’re not care about whatever we missed out on in this life.
But how do we know this? We can know it, because we have the seal of the Holy Spirit on us. For example, when you buy a house, you sign a contract and hand over a down payment. Your signature seals the deal, so that the contract cannot be altered. Then your down payment guarantees the bank that the rest is coming. In the same way, God wrote a contract for an eternal home for us. The terms of this contract states that HE washes away our sins, and HE pours the Holy Spirit into our hearts, and HE will be our God now and forever. The down payment that all this is coming our way is the Holy Spirit in us, which God gave to us through the water of our baptism.
Now, granted, we see or feel that water on us anymore. It’s been dried off a long time ago. But God in eternity sees that water, and so from HIS point of view, we are sealed for heaven. But we are also sealed for heaven from our point of view through the Word. For example in Catechism this week I had the children evaluate this statement: On the cross, the fullness of God’s anger at sin fell on Jesus instead of on me. One student said it made him feel guilty that Jesus should have to suffer this way. Another student said it make him feel good, because now he doesn’t have to suffer. Both students are correct. Sorrow for our sins and faith in God’s forgiveness is the working of the Holy Spirit in us, otherwise we wouldn’t care. But now we do care, and we rejoice that we are sealed for heaven.
So, what does this have to do with anger issues? It is possible to drive the Holy Spirit out of our hearts. If we do that, we won’t loose our head knowledge of God. We’ll always pretty much have that. But we’ll loose our sorrow for sin and our faith in His forgiveness. And now here’s what can drive out the Holy Spirit. Our text reads. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, … And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. – Ephesians 4:29a, 30a Nasty sarcasm and hurtful words, that tear people down instead of building them up, grieves the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can only take that for so long, until He leaves that person on his own.
Have we been grieving the Holy Spirit? What about the things we’ve been posting on face book or writing in emails or text messages? Or, what about how we talk to our spouse or our children or our parents? Are we adding to peoples’ anger issues, or are we pointing them to Christ? A way to gauge this is consider how WE feel about nasty comments others make about people we don’t care for. Do we rejoice and yell, “Stick it to ‘em”? Or, do those nasty comments grieve us? Also, are we grieved enough to tell the person, who’s making those comments to knock it off. And if they don’t knock it off, are we grieved enough to back away from them for a while? If we want the Holy Spirit to be living and working in us, it only makes sense that our attitude toward others will be like the Holy Spirit’s.
We read on in our text: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. – Ephesians 4:31 Bitterness is the angry root in a person’s heart. Rage is the temper tantrum that boils up from the person’s bitterness. Anger is the permanent feeling of resentment that leads to name calling or even physically hurting someone. Don’t let any of those things stay in you, along with every from of malice. With those words Paul is taking away all our loopholes. We can’t justify staying angry with someone by saying, “Well, at least I haven’t shot him - yet.” But now, how do we fight against any bitterness or anger that may still be in us? This is how. Since we are sealed for heaven, let’s remember who we are. We are God’s dearly loved children.
2. God has made us His dearly loved children
Our text reads: Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:1-2 Children love to imitate their fathers. Here’s a picture of Mr. Priebe’s son, Baxter. As you can see, he’s imitating his father. If Baxter stays with it, someday he’ll play golf as well as his father does, and Mr. Priebe would say, “Hopefully even better.” We can never be more loving than our Heavenly Father is. But He loves us so much, that He wants us to strive to be like Him. And just what is His love for us like? Well, it’s everything that it took to make us His dearly loved children. Our text reads: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
The word kind literally means useful. Kind is more than saying, “Have a nice day!” Kind is when we see a person in trouble, actually doing something about it. In eternity God saw the eternal trouble we were in because of our sin, and He did something about it. He planned and promised to send His Son.
The word compassionate has to do with our heart or our guts. When we see pictures in the news of people suffering under ISIS, our heart goes out to them, and if there was anything we could do to help them, we would – gladly! In the same way, God’s heart went out to us, and He DID rescue us. Also, at the time of His rescuing us, there was nothing about us to make us attractive to Himself. We were covered with the filth and open sores of our sins. Furthermore if He were to say to us, “Come to me and I will give you rest”, our response would be to snarl and bite at Him. Yet, rather than be angry with us, God was filled with compassion for us, and suffered for us the justice we deserved.
Because God did this, from now on everyday, let’s take swings at being like God toward one another. So, is someone who hurt us also hurting in some way? Rather than chuckling about their misfortunes, let’s do something useful to help them. Do they deserve our help? Probably not, and in helping them, you may discover first hand that no good deed goes unpunished. But that doesn’t change anything. They still need your help. They still don’t deserve it. And God loved us anyway.
But what if we say the price of my forgiving him/her is too high in terms of letting go what he did to us? We were more precious to God, than the price He had to pay in order to forgive us. So, whatever that person may have done to us, let’s remember, that God paid for the sins of the world! And, wouldn’t it be better, instead of holding a grudge or lashing out at him, to kindly, sincerely say to him, Christ paid for your sins, and mine also”? Now, he might bite and snarl at you for that. But you don’t know for how long, because for how long have we bit and snarled at God? But we don’t want to anymore, for He has made us His dear children. May we do everything we can to make others our dear brothers and sisters!
Finally, what about consequences? Are we to just forgive and impose no consequences? But won’t that person then feel free to keep sinning more and more? The answer to this really isn’t complicated when we look again at God forgiving us. His forgiveness in Christ is unconditional and complete, and the consequences He may give later on have nothing to do with His forgiveness. What I mean is consequences aren’t about God’s justice. Consequences are about His love in order to protect us from ourselves and to help us remain in repentance and faith. May this also be our attitude! Let our forgiveness of others also be unconditional and complete. And then if for the person’s own good, there has to be some kind of a consequence, may the feeling in our heart be: “This hurts me more than it hurts you.”
After listening to all this, how are your anger issues? Maybe we still have some work to do. But none of us has to stay trapped in our anger. God’s love heals us. In His love He sealed us for heaven, and in His loved He made us His dear children. These facts are changing and renewing us each new day. God grant that we may also be His instruments of change and renewal to those around us. And in this way, we will be making eternal differences in this world. Amen.
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