The BIG IDEA:
God can empower us to be calm even in the chaos.
Anger is a real emotion. Anger is our response when we feel that we or someone else has been wronged, cheated, or slighted. The problem isn’t necessarily the anger itself but how the anger is expressed in actions or words. Who does our anger affect? Is it destructive or used to lovingly correct a situation? Are we angry because we feel that we are more important than the one we are angry with?
(Leader: Keep in mind that you might have students dealing with anger from a deep place of unforgiveness. They may have been taken advantage of or hurt physically or emotionally by family or even a friend. This lesson only begins to help students dig into the reasoning behind their anger. Students dealing with a deeper level of anger and unforgiveness due to an unjust act against them will require compassion, listening, and discussion beyond this study.)
We take a look at ourselves to explore the reasons for our anger. We then put our eyes on God to help us see our situations from God’s perspective, placing more importance on others rather than ourselves.
A bottle of your favorite carbonated drink can be delicious. But if you shake it up, pressure can begin to build up inside of it and the results can be messy. Pressure can build up inside each of us as well. When we allow our anger to build up and get away from us, it becomes a mess for our lives and the lives of those around us.
- What I want the group to know and understand:Anger can be used as motivation in a positive way to right a wrong. .Anger can be a cover-up for other emotions. There are two kinds of anger: Godly anger (also known as righteous anger) and human anger (also known as unrighteous anger).
- What I want the group to experience: To explore what typically makes us angry. To explore the reasons behind our anger.
- How I want the group to respond: Ask God to help us identify the reasons for our anger and help us release it to Him
The SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TOPIC:
When we encounter Christ, we become a new creation, but not perfect. We still become angry, impatient, and act unkindly at times. However, as we focus on God, others and lastly ourselves, we can begin to see things from others’ perspective, leading us to not anger as easily.
Imagine your friend handing you a 2-liter of your favorite soda. He says, “I’m giving this to you to carry for the week. Every time you’re upset, shake this bottle as hard as you can.” You notice that after you’ve shaken it a number of times that it seems really firm. You’re tempted to screw off the cap just to see how big of a mess it will make, but you resist and continue carrying it in your backpack. At the end of the week, your friend asks you how it felt to shake it up every time you were angry. How would you feel? How often would you shake up the 2-liter? What kind of mess would it make if you opened your bottle after a week?
2. What are some ways verse 19 tells us to avoid becoming quickly angry? How might being quick to listen and slow to speak make a difference in how quickly we become angry?
Allow students to discuss. Verse 19 says to be quick to listen and slow to speak. If we take time to listen, we might try to see things from another person’s perspective. If we ask questions like, “I’m curious why you said that or did that.” It gives someone else time to explain themselves. It gives us time to “breathe” and not immediately take things personally. The other person may be going through something hard and taking it out on others. Sometimes, we don’t have the opportunity to ask questions. Maybe they’re not willing to listen. Or it was something done or said in passing. You may not even know the person or ever see them again. You can still take time to think through why they may have done or said something to offend you or why you took it personally.
3. What does verse 20 mean by “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires?
Allow students to discuss. Often when we’re offended or angry, we want to lash out and offend them in return, take revenge or seek retribution. Our revenge is a defense mechanism. Though we’re trying to protect ourselves, our anger actually becomes more of a weapon rather than a tool to become more like Christ or to improve a situation.
4. Verse 20 tells us there is something called godly anger (also known as righteous anger) in addition to human anger (also known as unrighteous anger). What comes to mind when you think of godly anger?
Allow students to discuss. Godly anger is anger that flows out of a growing relationship with God. For instance, when we experience something that goes against God’s heart (e.g.: someone being treated unkindly or unjustly), it’s right to feel angry.
5. What does verse 21 call us to reject, and what does it call us to receive? What does humility have to do with receiving God’s word and being slow to anger?
This verse calls us to reject all forms of filthiness and wickedness. It calls us humbly to receive God’s word (in other words, to submit our lives to his principles) since it has the power to save and change us. Humility helps us see that we need something bigger than ourselves (i.e.: God’s word). It guards against anger because it helps us see a bigger reality than ourselves.
6. In John 14:16-17, Jesus talks about sending the Holy Spirit. Who is the Holy Spirit and how can he help you deal with your anger?
God’s Spirit living in us as Christ’s followers gives us power to put his word into practice. Included in this is the ability to grow as people who are slow to anger.
7. In the beginning of the study, you imagined carrying a 2 liter with you for a day. What situations anger you the most and what would cause you to shake up the 2 liter?
Allow students to discuss. Sometimes anger is a way of masking other emotions, or we’re angry but uncertain what is causing our anger.
8. How do you normally respond when you become angry?
Allow students to discuss.
9. What often results from your anger?
Allow students to discuss. Help the students explore whether their anger is disruptive, tears down others, or might be revengeful.
10. Think of a particular time you were angry. How would you have responded differently if you had considered the person who angered you as more important than yourself?
Allow students to discuss. We’re selfish people. Humility does not come naturally but results when we have the right perspective of God, others, and ourselves. In addition, keep in mind that students who have been wronged in a very personal way (abuse, betrayed by a family member, etc.) are experiencing anger at a much deeper level. They were victims of others thinking more highly of themselves rather than seeing them as valuable. Listen to them and affirm that they were treated unjustly. Affirm them as valuable and important. Refer to the “For Further Study” section for additional ideas.
11. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against injustice, but did so humbly. Has there ever been a time your anger was the result of injustice against someone — more of a godly anger rather than human anger?
Allow students to discuss.
12. Choose two of the Bible verses discussed in this lesson to think and pray through over the next several days. Take a moment to write them in a journal or notes on your phone. Then spend some time praying as a group or individually (or you could invite your group to write down a prayer).
Ask God to:
- help you think of others as more important than yourself and
- help you to develop humility.
- help you to pause in a situation in which you’ve become angry and to help you see things from the other person’s perspective.
- help you pray for that person and whatever is going on in their life.
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
- Holy Spirit Series:
http://thrivestudies.com/power-leader/ and http://thrivestudies.com/the-holy-spirit-series-leader/ for more about the Holy Spirit helping you to develop the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control—all which will help you to be slow to anger).
- About Me Series:
http://thrivestudies.com/whoami-leader/. Affirms us for who we are in Christ. Great study to help a student who doubts their significance.
- Controlling Your Anger. https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/life-and-relationships/emotions/controlling-anger.html
- Video: Got Service. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzmWqZS1QSU
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.