Fountain of Life
Well we have been taking the time this summer
to read through the book of Proverbs
and the wisdom that we've gained from this book
has given us a chance to receive from it,
Proverbs 13-14 calls it the fountain of life
and as we drink from this fountain
as we have over the past several weeks,
we align ourselves in biblical wisdom
and the insight that we gain
gives us better decision making,
acting in compassion, leading others wisely,
good and bad sex, choosing our words carefully,
the value of good friends, but today,
let's talk about anger.
How many of you would say that you're angry?
And don't point to anybody else.
This is a self-reflective exercise, all right?
How many of you would say you have anger issues?
Who's got anger issues?
And for the rest of you, denial.
Who's dealing with denial?
Because the truth is, there are two types of people.
There's people who have anger issues
or people who don't see their anger as an issue.
Let's take this exercise one step further.
What triggers you?
What causes the anger in your life?
Is it hunger?
Some of you know what I'm talking about.
There's some people out there who,
they eat breakfast and like two hours later,
they're like I'm so hungry.
Don't hold me accountable.
I'm so hangry right now.
And you're like it's only 11 o'clock
and I'm some people, I totally, totally understand that.
Is it traffic?
It's definitely traffic.
Route 23 is Satan's dominion.
I can feel it right now.
It's traffic and if it's not traffic, it's the DMV
'cause I know some people have gone
to the DMV at like three, four o'clock
in the morning, they get in line
and there's actually no guarantee that they're
gonna get in the door that day
because there's that many people in line.
Traffic, DMV, hunger, social media.
Are you just spending time scrolling through,
sensing this like heightened emotion?
Are you daring to go into the comments sections these days?
I wouldn't do it if I were you.
It's an election year, guys, an election year.
In social media, like on a normal day, is a rage cage.
In an election year, shut it down.
Shut it down.
I think it's safe to say that we're all dealing with anger
in one way or another and you know,
I've often heard of anger as a secondary emotion
so really it's so much more complicated
than just simply being angry or not being angry.
So think of it like keeping a fully inflated beach ball
submerged under water.
All right, try as you might, you can push it down,
you can push it down but eventually,
this thing wants to come to the surface.
You subdue, you push down your anger,
you push down your emotion, you push down your dented ego
so instead of flying off the handle,
you stop, drop, count to 10
and you maintain your composure.
Good for you but it doesn't always work.
You think about that time that your boss calls you out.
You push it down.
You think about the idiot who cut you off in traffic.
You push it down.
By the way, every single one of us
are the idiots that are cutting each other off
in traffic so push that down too.
You remember the only reason you
were in traffic the first place
was because your kids were goofing off
and now you're running late, you push that down.
Your kids have their own things.
They're trying to deal with school.
School is fully online.
Now maybe it's in person.
Now maybe it's a combination of the two.
Oh and by the way, you also need
to figure out your job situation.
You push that down.
You're having money issues, you push that down.
You didn't get to go on vacation this year.
Push it down!
And then you go to the grocery store,
they don't have your favorite flavor of ice cream
and you go home and it's the slightest offense,
somebody's like how come you didn't
get me the chocolate chip and all of a sudden,
the slightest offense hits you, you snap,
you lose your mind, you freak out
and what was the point?
You raged all over your family.
You lost control of your emotion.
To make yourself feel better?
You're either being controlled by your anger
or you are in control of your anger
and Proverbs gives us some great insight into this.
So look at Proverbs chapter 20, verse 22.
It says do not say I'll pay you back for this wrong
but wait for the Lord and he will avenge you.
See, the problem with anger is when we
allow our ego to dictate our emotions,
let that sink in.
If we let our ego to dictate our emotions,
our emotional response to an offense,
our emotional response to a situation
that feels like it might be outside of our control.
How easy is it for us to assume malicious content?
It's really easy for me.
Another person hurts you, another person wrongs you
and scripture says listen, it's okay.
You can feel hurt.
It's not saying you can't feel hurt
but look at the second half of 20:22,
it says wait for the Lord and he will avenge you.
He's not saying just toughen up, buttercup, get over it.
Wait for the Lord.
He's not saying react irresponsibly.
He's saying wait for the Lord and he will avenge you.
It's not for us to act on our anger
but to allow God to just be in control
of the situation, give it away, give it to God.
Make him the one responsible for avenging any wrongs
if there is any wrongs to begin with
and I think that's a really difficult place to be in
when you're just so used to being the boss of your emotions,
you're so used to being the boss of your ego.
And the fragile ego, by the way,
it's a posture that we have.
It's a posture of insecurity and it actually
is the place where anger roots itself
and grows in such abundance.
The ego is a place where the enemy loves to tap into.
They love to tap into your ego
because the lies grow that much greater there.
Lies that counter the word of God.
Lies that puff us up, that weaken our view
as humble servants and say you know,
I'm actually a much bigger deal
and one of the most dangerous lies
that feeds our ego and fertilizes the anger
in our life is the lie of self-importance.
So when Violet was about seven months old
and she hadn't really slept a solid night
which to be fair, I think that's pretty decent,
all things considered.
There was one night in particular
that she just, man, she wasn't having it.
She wasn't happy, she wasn't feeling well,
I don't know if she was teething.
She didn't wanna be picked up, she didn't wanna be put down,
and the weeks leading up to this fateful night,
my ego got the best of me.
Now I just wanna clarify just so you guys
understand at home, here's the deal.
I'm kind of important.
I really need my sleep.
I really value my sleep and I wasn't getting sleep
and it was building up and it was building up
and also, this was the first time in my experience
that my fatherhood ego was dented
because there was nothing I could do
in that situation to solve my daughter's problems.
She wasn't happy, I didn't know what to do for her.
My ego was taking hit after hit after hit.
And I'm sure the same was for Lea
but my ego was so blind, I didn't care
how Lea was feeling, I just cared about how I was feeling
and standing there in the dark, trying
to deal with a fussy newborn, Lea and I are just,
we're starting to get chippy, we're starting
to get kind of at it with each other.
It was almost like I was the Yankees
and she was the Red Sox and that
is the most dangerous place to be
when you are a sleepless new parent.
You don't wanna be there.
But my ego was incapable of understanding her point of view
and that is true of our egos
because the second our anger leads us
to this place of division, right,
when our thinking shifts us to an us versus them mentality
or a winner and loser mindset,
we've replaced God with our ego.
And when we replace God with our ego
as believers, we prioritize getting even
and winning or being right or feeling
like we're more important
or justifying our negative emotions,
see, we prove that validating our own ego
is more important than the unity in Christ
that God is calling us to.
Now if you're sensing a little bit
of heightened-ness in my soul,
it's because I really had to wrestle through this.
I really, really had to wrestle through this
and that little moment of clarity
when we allow our ego to take over,
we see that anger gains control over us.
When your ego takes a hit, then the overflow
is uncontrolled emotion.
Proverbs 14:29, whoever is patient has great understanding.
I wish that was the end of that but there's a comma.
But the one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
Let's summarize it as simply as we can, you ready?
People who are quick-tempered always
end up acting like a fool and subsequently looking
like a fool.
You act like a fool, you look like a fool
and ain't nobody wanna look foolish.
Here's how that story ends.
Violet wasn't sleeping part two.
We're standing there, we're getting chippy,
it's Red Sox versus Yankees and in that moment,
all it took was for Lea to look at me
and say go get a bottle in a slightly passive,
impatient, exhausted tone
as if to say it was my fault that we're in this situation
and here's what happened.
My folly came just flooding out.
We have a pacifier, sorry, we had a pacifier
that was connected to one of those little stuffed animals.
You know what I'm talking about?
Rest in peace to that stuffed animal
because I ripped the pacifier off,
threw the stuffed animal across the room,
stormed up the hall to our bedroom
and we had one of those coolers
that was the tri-fold zip or whatever
so when you're angry, you don't have time
to unzip an entire cooler,
so I zipped halfway, realized it was stuck,
ripped the top off, grabbed the bottle,
stomped back down the hallway,
took it into Violet's room, dropped it
in Lea's hand and it was in that moment
that I realized that I may have crossed the line.
Just based on her facial expression.
My quick temper did not do any favors for me that night.
And that was a tough place to be in
and we needed to figure that out.
We needed to talk about it.
Because the danger in not controlling your anger
isn't just in your personal righteousness,
it's not just in how you look,
it's not just in your justification,
it's in how it deeply affects others.
How it deeply affects your friends,
your family, siblings, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend.
The people that you hold closest to you
and I know that this can be kind of a sensitive,
heavy subject for some,
that just the heightened emotional state
that some people have to carry
when they feel like they're always walking on eggshells,
tip-toeing around somebody who's just kind
of hot under the collar and can't control their anger
'cause you just don't wanna set 'em off
and so you'll do anything to just avoid that
and the truth is, people who navigate life
with people who can't control their anger,
they often experience trust issues,
they deal with anxiety,
some even struggle with eating disorders.
There are very real issues in life.
Hear my heart on this, all right?
There's very real issues in life
whether it's your lack of control in finances,
in your job situation, alcohol, drug abuse,
I'm not cheapening your reasons, hear me on this,
but if we're hurting others,
is our anger really worth the cost?
And a quick side note because I know some of you
might be saying like I'm not really one
of those people who lose control.
I'm not even one of those people
who express emotions 'cause there's people out there.
I hear you, I know who you're talking about.
Not everybody really expresses emotions.
There are some who are having the worst day
and their facial expression reflects
as if they were having their best day
but anger doesn't come out in the most clear cut ways.
Sometimes it comes out in passive aggressive ways.
One of my favorite bands is a band called Needtobreathe
and it features the Rinehart Brothers,
no relation to Taylor.
Bo and Bear Rinehart.
And they grew up together, they were writing songs together,
they went to college together
and over the span of about 10 years,
they wrote and released four albums
and so they were really trending towards success
but then during the process of writing
and recording their fifth album, things went south
'cause see, the brothers found themselves in an ego battle
that had started almost 12, 13 years before
and it took them three times as long
to record their fifth album
and the story broke before the album
was actually released that the brothers
had gotten into a fistfight and one of them
had to go to the hospital and to this day,
they won't say who it was.
I'm guessing it was probably Bo
because Bear played football in college
but they got into a fight.
They let their anger overflow in uncontrolled emotion
and these guys claimed and explained
and said like listen, we know it was because we
were just passive aggressive.
The band mates knew it was passive aggressive anger.
One of the brothers would go and he
would get food for the entire band
but on purpose, he wouldn't order his brother's meal.
There would be text messages behind the scenes.
There's comments under your breath.
There was just this constant at it with each other.
You know how brothers can be.
And it just came to a head.
The brothers needed to check their ego battle at the door
and they recognized that and that's
what allowed them to come together
after this fight and actually record
and finish their fifth album
and they worked on a six and I believe they're
coming out with a seventh this year.
You got to check your ego at the door.
But side note because there is a place
for anger in our life.
I'm not just saying we have to turn it off
and ignore it altogether.
Look at James 1:19 to 20.
Says my dear brothers and sisters, take note of this.
Take note, write it on your mirror,
put it on a tattoo, whatever you gotta do.
Just take note of this.
Take it to heart.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak,
slow to become angry, because human anger
does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
James isn't saying everyone should be quick
to listen, slow to speak because then you
won't become angry.
There's a place for anger.
But we should be quick to listen.
We should be slow to speak.
And then we allow ourselves this time to pause, to breathe.
Determine if our anger is actually appropriate or not
because we may feel like we have the right to be angry
but our human anger does not produce the righteousness
that God desires.
Did you catch that?
Just pause for a second.
Are you angered by racism?
Are you angered by abortion laws?
Are you angered by the Black Lives Matter movement?
Are you angered by pretty much just anything
that's going on today?
Do you feel anger for it?
Sometimes we can get angry about things
that we think truly matter to God
and sometimes they do and sometimes they don't
and Christians, we're the best at feeling
like we have a right to be angry because God's angry
especially on these hot button issues
and our human anger does not produce the kind
of righteousness that God requires.
It doesn't quite do the thing that you think it does.
What happens is the fragility of your ego
feeds the unchecked emotion and you might think
that you're getting angry for the right reason
and maybe you are and maybe you aren't
but in reality, if your anger is in control of you,
you're gonna be finding yourself in a situation
where you thought that you were speaking out
for your cause but you're really actually
hurting people in Jesus' name.
In your anger, don't sin.
Do not sin.
Instead be controlled.
Be in control of your anger for offenses and wrongs.
Do not be controlled.
Turn the other cheek like Jesus said in Matthew 5:38.
The fruits of the spirit are peace, patience, kindness.
You guys know that one, right?
The last one in that passage in Galatians is self-control.
Exercise, experience self-control.
You are either being controlled by your anger
or you are in control of your anger.
So let's talk about what it looks like
to be in control of your anger.
John chapter 2, 13 to 16.
This is the story that came out most recently.
A lot of people were using this passage
because they wanted to just justify their anger
and it's really to look at this passage
and say you know, Jesus was angry
so I can get angry too but let's look a little bit deeper.
John 2:13 to 16, when it was almost time
for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
In the temple courts, he found people
selling cattle, sheep, doves and others
sitting at tables exchanging money.
Sounds like a market.
So he, Jesus, made a whip out of cords,
oh, this is getting good,
and drove all from the temple courts,
both sheep and cattle.
He scattered the coins of the money changers,
overturned the tables.
To those who sold doves, he said get out of here!
Stop turning my Father's house into a market!
We can get behind this story, right?
Jesus shows up to church.
He sees people treating it like a market.
They're using the walls of the temple for a profit
and Jesus goes Hulk smash on the scene.
That's my boy.
He makes a whip out of cords and drove all
from the temple courts, but wait.
Both sheep and cattle.
He doesn't make a whip to strike the people
because the people actually belonged in the temple.
The animals were the ones out of place.
So he drives the sheep and cattle out.
If Jesus would've struck somebody,
we would've been talking about aggravated assault.
Jesus was sinless.
So I'm relatively confident that he didn't strike anybody.
And then he goes and he scatters the money
before he flips the table.
Read into that one a little bit.
Have you ever been at a birthday party
where the kid breaks the pinata
and the candy just goes flying everywhere?
Kids go chasing after it.
Like jumping on top of each other
to get as much as they can,
to collect it up before somebody else gets it.
I'm relatively confident that Jesus
scattered the money to get the people out of the way
so that he could flip the tables
and safely not hurt anyone.
And then Jesus yells at people
but he doesn't yell insults.
He doesn't come at them with an emotional, verbal attack.
What he says is stop doing this.
He calls them out on their wrongdoing
and tells them to stop.
Jesus expresses deep anger but he doesn't lose control
and when you're not controlling your anger,
what you're actually doing is you're
giving somebody else power over you,
something else, a circumstance or a situation,
power over you and control without the right power
is just an illusion.
So let's look at the power that Jesus had
because that power is available to us as well.
He had the power of a secure identity
and he had the power of the holy spirit
and the power of a secure identity
is Jesus knew who he was.
You've probably heard the saying to know who you are
and to know whose you are, yeah, that's Jesus.
Jesus knew who he was and he knew whose he was,
so much so that nothing was gonna cause him to lose control.
He had his name spoken over him.
He came up out of the water at his baptism
and the Lord spoke over him saying this is my son
whom I love, in him I am well pleased.
Some of my students are rolling their eyes right now
because I preach this at them all the time.
Jesus was connected to the love and to the authority
of God and we have that security too.
The closer we get to Jesus, the closer
we're connected to that authority,
the closer we're connected to the power
of a secure identity and we have no need for an ego.
And then second, Jesus had the power of the holy spirit
and I wish I could say that it was enough
that we could just look to Jesus as our model
and say I'm gonna try really, really hard
to control my anger and to just stop it altogether.
I wish we could just snap our fingers
and say that's what it is, it's mind over matter,
but it's just so not.
It's the power of the holy spirit that brought him
that supernatural self-control in the moment
and just as a side note, I was actually
talking to Pastor Ted about this message
and he brought up a really great point
because see, we find power in our identity in Christ
because as Ted said, Jesus's complete love
for those around him helped him
to stay in control of his anger
and Ted went further and said this
is probably something that we need to imitate more.
If we walk around in the power
of a secure identity and the power
of the holy spirit alive in us,
then we can't not love others.
We can't not look at others and try
to understand others and suppress the ego
or just get rid of it altogether.
Have you ever noticed how much easier it is
to be patient, to be calm,
to show less anger towards those who we love
rather than complete strangers?
In this power, there is an underlying theme.
Look at Proverbs 16:32 and Proverbs 25:28.
We're gonna read these two together.
Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control, than one who takes a city.
And like a city whose walls are broken through
is a person who lacks self-control.
Do you see the theme here?
We have power as people in Christ,
as people who are patient.
We got more power than somebody who's a warrior,
who just takes over an entire city.
Now think about it from this perspective.
What happens when you take a city?
See, the army needs to get in.
Think of Braveheart or Lord of the Rings,
any movie that you've ever seen
where it's been like dudes with swords
swinging around all sweaty and gross
and they show up and they're trying to take over a city
but in those days, they just tried
to break down walls enough to get in,
they didn't actually go to level cities
because cities were a tactical advantage for them.
It didn't make sense for them to level a city
and then keep marching.
Why not spend the night or spend time
refreshing in the city walls?
So it was not common to just kind of break through
in warfare and you see the foundations
of cities ravaged by war still remaining
all over the world today.
But look at this proverb, like a city
whose walls are broken through is a person
who lacks self-control.
Some of us are walking around like broken ruins.
We're lacking in self-control.
But Jesus is our foundation
and he's still standing in your life.
Maybe our walls are breaking down a little bit
but Jesus is still there.
Maybe we're losing control a little bit
but Jesus is still there.
Chapel family, if you're like yeah,
I've got anger issues today, amen.
Don't we all?
Jesus is a foundation for you
and God, despite your anger, is rebuilding your ruins,
brick by brick.
Life can be so confusing—especially in a pandemic. At a time when everything seems to be changing, let’s root ourselves in the unchanging wisdom of Proverbs. Throughout this 3,000-year-old book, wisdom is referred to as “the fountain of life”—exactly what we need when we’re exhausted, empty, and dry. Come and drink deeply from the fountain of life.