Scripture Text: Ephesians 4:17-32
Memory Verse: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Hebrews 12:15
Lesson Aim: To highlight: (1) the detriment of harboring anger and hurt; and (2) how we can overcome anger and hurt.
In this lesson we will talk about two of the most crippling impediments Christians could possibly face—anger, and hurt. Poor management of these emotions is considered most damaging. While emotions such as pride, envy, or jealousy may be just as damaging, they are less likely to be compounded by feelings of injustice.
When we feel like we are treated unjustly, it puts us in the victim mode as well as in an offensive posture toward others. This makes us helpless, weak, and dependent and/or angry, hurt, and offended. Our emotions adjust the way we view ourselves and we blame others for it. Consequently, we are not only in an unhealthy place but because we do not take responsibility for where we are, the condition is made worse by the projection of our feelings onto others.
Our God has feelings. He experiences the full range of emotions that He created. Let’s highlight a few of the emotions He feels: 1) He loves (Psalm 36:7; Romans 5:6-8; 8:32; John 3:16); 2) He gets angry (Deuteronomy 29:27-28; Psalm 7:11; 2 Chronicles 29:10); 3) He is jealous (Exodus 20:5; Psalm 78:58; Deuteronomy 4:24; 6:15); and 4) He hates some things (Deuteronomy 16:22; Psalm 11:5; Proverbs 6:16).
God created all these emotions, so they are all good. We are expected to experience the full range of emotions that He created, but our emotions should not dictate our behavior. If the resulting behavior of our emotions is destructive, we must exercise control to adjust the behavior.
What is most frightening about Christians harboring negative emotions is we can deceive ourselves to believe we are free of them. We can house these emotions for decades and appear to the naked eye to be doing well, but we are dying slowly inside or already dead. These negative emotions are like spiritual termites. A house that is infested with termites within the walls or in the structure or even the foundation cannot withstand any pressure. Likewise, when we harbor negative emotions such as anger and hurt, we cannot withstand the attacks of the enemy. We become an open target for his assaults.
Interact with God’s Word:
Let us first take a closer look at the two emotions we are discussing in this lesson.
- Anger: According to Wikipedia, “Anger is an emotion that is related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged or denied and a tendency to undo that by retaliation.” Anger is a normal emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation. Discuss what is meant by “psychological interpretation” and “perceived provocation.” Consider Philippians 4:8.
- Discuss the implications of the “tendency to undo that by retaliation”. Consider Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35; and Proverbs 16:17.
- It appears as if Hebrews 12:15 is telling us that anger and bitterness will trouble us and as a result defile others. Discuss how this can be done?
- Hurt: Hurt refers to suffering or pain. In this case, we are referring to emotional suffering and pain. New brain scanning technologies are revealing that the part of the brain that processes physical pain also processes emotional pain. Recent studies have revealed why some people will never get over heartbreaks in the same way that some injuries cause long-lasting chronic pain for some people.Discuss the emotional pain and the responses to the pain by the following characters—Sarah (Genesis 21:9-13), Esau (Genesis 25:29-34; 27:1-41), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:4-13), and Leah (Genesis 29:30-35). What is healthy or unhealthy about the response taken by each character?
- If it’s acceptable to experience negative emotions, under what circumstances might it be appropriate for us to have these emotions? Consider Acts 15:36-41 and Matthew 21:12-13. What emotions were experienced in these circumstances? Give examples of instances in which we can appropriately feel hurt or anger.