Anger and Forgiveness
By Dr. Charles Stanley
Letting Go of Anger, Part 4
Watch Anger and Forgiveness video.
Memory Verse: Ephesians 4:30-32
I. Introduction: There is awesome power in forgiveness. It is God’s solution for bitterness, resentment, and hostility. You and I need the freedom found only through sincerely and completely forgiving others.
II. A Few Definitions
A. Anger is a strong feeling of intense displeasure, hostility, or indignation as a result of a real or imagined threat, insult, frustration, or injustice toward yourself or others important to you.
B. Forgiveness is giving up resentment against someone else, along with your right to get even, no matter what has been done to you.
C. Unforgiveness is the deliberate, willful refusal to give up one’s resentment and right to get even, based on the attitude that someone must pay for the wrong done.
III. Obstacles to Forgiveness
A. Lack of desire: You don’t want to forgive.
B. Rehearsing what happened: Some people continue to dwell on the hurtful experience.
C. Pride: We may believe the other person should initiate reconciliation.
D. Fear: Some resist forgiving to avoid looking weak, being misunderstood, or feeling rejected.
E. Negative advice: Well-meaning friends don’t always offer godly counsel.
F. Partial forgiveness: People try to pick and choose which offenses can be pardoned.
G. Relying on emotions: Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you feel like forgiving.
H. Expecting quick results: Forgiveness can take time.
I. Justifying the other person’s actions: Some people will rationalize what happened so that they don’t have to forgive.
IV. Scriptural Teaching
A. Our fellowship with God suffers when we refuse to release others from their sins against us (Matt. 6:14-15).
B. We should forgive over and over. In Matthew 18:22, Jesus tells Peter that he must forgive his brother “seventy times seven” times.
C. You and I must be willing to extend mercy towards those who sin against us, because God has forgiven each of us of so much (Matt. 18:23-35).
D. We must deliberately turn away from anger and malice (Eph. 4:31-32).
V. Important Reminders
A. As a believer, you have the responsibility to take the initiative in dealing with unforgiveness.
B. Forgiveness will not always be easy or quick. But you can’t allow it to take root in your life and turn into bitterness.
C. Forgiving is difficult because it is unselfish. It involves laying down strong feelings and rights while releasing the other person from his or her obligation to repay you.
D. You may never forgive if you wait until you “feel like it.”
E. Remember, forgiveness doesn’t always have to include going to the other person and confessing your resentment. Approach that individual only if the Lord directs you to do so.
VI. Steps to Dealing with Anger
A. Acknowledge that you have been totally forgiven. God saved you by grace––not because you deserved it. He has freely offered His forgiveness your entire life.
B. Confess your anger to the Lord. Recognize that your attitude has not been right. Be specific in describing your hostility and resentment.
C. Recognize that unforgiveness is sin. Honestly admit that it is a violation of biblical principles.
D. Ask God to forgive you. You may also need to admit to the other person that your attitude toward him or her was wrong.
E. Lay down the anger. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and by an act of your will, choose to let it go.
VII. Helpful Guidance
A. God will reveal whether or not you need to confess your unforgiveness to the one who offended you. When that is the case, make sure you simply request forgiveness for your attitude without going into why he or she angered you.
B. If meeting in person is not possible, set two chairs facing each other. Sit in one and imagine the other individual sitting across from you. Then, confess your resentment. You can also use this technique to practice confessing a wrong attitude before attempting it in person.
VIII. How to Know You Have Forgiven
A. The harsh emotions you’ve had towards others will be replaced by compassion.
B. You’ll be able to accept others without feeling bitter, even if they never change. You will try to understand why they acted as they did.
C. You will feel thankful that God allowed the difficult experience to teach you more about the riches of His grace.
IX. Conclusion: You and I don’t have to hold onto unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment. We can escape the chains of self-destruction that entangle those who refuse to show mercy. When the Holy Spirit reminds you of the people to forgive, I hope you won’t ignore His voice. It is my prayer that you bravely and wisely choose to deal with those feelings. My friend, allow God to set you free––you will never regret it.