One day an older gentleman in a brand-new Volvo was driving around a crowded parking lot looking for a close space. He finally found one and was just about to back into it when a young man in an old VW Bug whizzed into the spot before him.
As the young driver got out of his car and was walking away, the man in the Volvo called out, “That was my spot, I was here first. What gives you the right to rush in and take it?”
The young man laughed and said, “Because I’m young and quick” and he kept on walking.
All the sudden the VW Bug driver heard the horrible sound of a car being smashed. He turned around to see the man in the Volvo repeatedly ramming his car into VW Bug. The young man cried out, “Stop!”
The man in the Volvo caught his eye and said, “This is because I’m old and rich!”
Of all our emotions, psychiatrists tell us that anger is the most destructive. Anger increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. It lowers your immunity, raises your blood pressure, raises your stress hormones and is linked to depression if it is held in.
In 2018, a national survey was completed that asked about Americans levels of stress and anger. 55% of Americans claimed to be experiencing high levels of stress and 22% (more than 1 in 5) claimed to be very angry, most of the time.
Doctors from Coral Gables, Fla., did a study to see what anger does to the human body. They compared the heart’s pumping action in 18 men with coronary artery disease to that of 9 healthy men. Each of the study participants underwent a physical stress test and three mental stress tests, one of which dealt with an explosive episode of anger. Using sophisticated X-ray techniques, the doctors took pictures of the subjects’ hearts in action during these tests.
For all the subjects, their anger reduced the amount of blood that the heart pumped to body tissues more than the other tests, but this was especially true for those who had heart disease. The brain shunts blood away from the gut, brain and heart towards the muscles.
Studies show that those who repress anger or explode, can cause ‘real damage’ to their own bodies as well as ‘what they might do to others’ in that fit of anger.
After a sermon on ‘how to deal with anger’, a lady approached Billy Sunday and tried to rationalize her angry outbursts. “There’s nothing wrong with losing my temper,” she said, “I blow up, and then it’s over.”
That’s when Billy Sunday famously replied, “So, does a shotgun and look at the damage it leaves behind.”
No one understands the effects of explosive anger better than Moses. We find his story in Exodus. The Hebrews (also called The Israelites), were slaves in Egypt under the Pharaoh. Because the Israelite people were increasing in number, Pharaoh ordered the midwives to drown every newborn baby boy in the Nile River.
To avoid this, Moses’ mother and sister put him in a basket and placed it in the reeds near the place where the Pharaoh’s daughter bathed. Then, when she came down to wash, one of her attendants saw the basket, took it to her and she accepted the child as her own.
So, as a child, Moses was raised by an Egyptian princess. In many ways, he was treated like a prince; yet it was clear that he was not one of them. As he grew, Moses noticed these differences and so did others in the kingdom.
Since Moses was fed and cared for part of the time by his own mother, who helped the princess, maybe she or Moses’ sister told him about his rightful family. Scripture isn’t clear on those details. But Hebrews 11:24 does record that Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
What we do know is that as Moses got older, he recognized that the slaves, the Hebrews, were his people. Exodus 2:11 records these words, “One particular day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his people were working at hard labor and he watched them.”
Scripture tells us that Moses was 80 when he returned to Egypt and that he had been in exile for 40 years. That means he was 40 on this day. I am sure it was not the first time he had watched the Israelites at work. But it was on this particular day, that everything changed.
As he watched, he saw an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave. An overseer doesn’t really need to have much of a reason, to beat a slave. The man may have been tired and not working as hard as taskmaster thought he should, or he might have walked away to get a drink or relieve himself.
But whatever the cause, now he was paying for it. Different translations describe the beating with different terms. One says he beat him, another that he was scourged and another that he smite him. A taskmaster’s rod was made of a tough but pliable wood that was imported from Syria.
In Acts chapter 7:23-24, Stephen says that Moses saw a terrible injustice taking place. This was apparently a sadistic taskmaster, inflicting a brutal beating on the slave. Sickened by it, Moses became very angry and decided to act.
In many movies, Moses acts in a fit of passion. Jewish commentators often gloss this over and say that Moses acted heroically and justly. They call it a rescue or that he acted in his own self-defense. In Moses’ defense, we cannot tell if the Egyptian intended to kill the slave or not; that may have been the case. Yet, as in any good detective story, other facts give us insight into what really happened.
Exodus 2:12 says, that Moses looked one way and then the other to see if there were any witnesses, before he intervened and killed the Taskmaster. You see, this wasn’t an unthinking reaction, what Moses did was pre-meditated.
Moses not only killed the Egyptian, but then he tried to hide him by burying him in the sand. From what we can tell, the slave who was being beaten did not help. He probably watched and then left during or after while Moses worked.
In every good murder mystery, evidence is always left behind. It’s awful hard to eliminate every clue. It wouldn’t take long to notice that an Overseer was missing or to find the missing body. It is hard to cover up footsteps in the sand. But it seems like Moses put it all behind him.
The very next day, Moses is out and about the slaves and taskmasters again. Moses has no fear of being caught and probably believes that what he did was justified. And this action, this venting of anger, has made him bolder.
Seeing two Hebrews fighting, he intervenes. One slave was brutally striking another, so Moses asks him, “Why are you hitting your fellow brother?”
Then the man turned to Moses, in anger, nearly spitting in his face, the slave cried out, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you planning on killing me as you killed the Egyptian?
Moses reeled back then, he knew his secret was out. The man he defended must have told others and they would sell him out to save themselves.
Moses immediately understands that he was in danger, for though his high status might protect him from punishment for the murder of a mere overseer, the fact that he killed the man for carrying out his duties to Pharaoh would brand him a rebel and a danger to the king.
Indeed, when Pharaoh heard what happened, he demanded that Moses be put to death. But before this can take place, Moses fled to Midian and settled there to live.
Moses had nothing to gain and everything to lose by killing the Egyptian. It would have made more sense for him to walk away, yet his anger burned too bright.
Certainly, he must have heard the story about how Cain killed Abel and knew how God reacted. God said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10). Did Moses really think he could get away with murder?
Moses was under the assumption that the Hebrews would see him as an equal. That in his position, they could seek help from him, but instead, they only saw a man raised in the palace. If he really wanted to help, he chose the wrong time and the wrong path.
The Israelites were not ready to be delivered and Moses was certainly not yet ready to lead them. Some Scholars suggest, that his actions set back their release by 20 to 30 years. Had he stayed, God may have been able to use him sooner to deliver his people.
The good that he hoped to accomplish, back-fired in his face. It always does when we take matters into our own hands. Sin has consequences and his anger was corrosive.
Jesus addressed this during his sermon on the mount. In Matthew chapter 5:21-22 we read, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment’. But I tell you, that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.”
Anger uncontrolled can become explosive and held back destroys the one with hate in their heart. The judgment Moses received was that he was not allowed to cross over into the Promised Land.
Make no mistakes about it; anger not kept in check destroys. So, we might be inclined to say, well, we just won’t get angry. In truth, even Jesus got angry. And Ecclesiastes records for us that there is a time for everything under the sun even anger and hate.
The real question is; how do we deal with it? Jesus tells us, in Matthew 5:24, “If we are angry with another, we are to go to them and work to resolve the matter.” (possibly after a cooling down time)
Ephesians 4:26-27 reads, “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. And do not give the devil a foothold.”
And James 1:20 makes it clear, “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Instead of allowing your anger to destroy you or another,
1) Take a walk or exercise to defuse the situation.
2) Try to pinpoint, what really made you angry, so you can address the real issue.
3) Talk to someone who can help you deal with the issue, especially if you cannot see eye to eye. (There is no disgrace in seeing a counselor).
4) Or write down your thoughts in a letter or diary and then later, destroy them after you give them to God.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame”.
I want to end with this true story,
Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, was angered by an army officer who accused him of favoritism. Stanton complained to Lincoln, who suggested that Stanton write the officer a sharp letter. Stanton did, and showed the strongly worded document to the president. “What are you going to do with it?” Lincoln inquired.
Surprised, Stanton replied, “Send it.” Lincoln shook his head. “No, you don’t want to send that letter,” he said. “Put it in the stove. That’s what I do when I have written a letter while I am angry. It’s a good letter and you had a good time writing it and you feel better. Now burn it and write another.”
Learn to deal with your anger in a constructive way, before it takes over or destroys your life. That is your assignment, begin today.