Thursday, April 12, 2012

Taming the Volcano

When I was a kid, there was a TV show called The Hulk. The main character was David Banner, just your average mild-mannered guy. Every week, it was the same thing. David Banner would run into some really bad guys. They would beat him up and throw him around. And then Banner got mad. His skin would turn green. His muscles would grow so much, his clothes would literally rip off his body. And suddenly, he was the Hulk! He would go around smashing stuff and throwing people around. Of course, when the Hulk was finally gone, David Banner had to put the pieces back together. Truth be told, we all have a little Hulk in us. We all occasionally lose it. And when that happens, we end up smashing things, doing serious damage. Several years ago, when they made a movie version of The Hulk, the money line was, “Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.” The Bible says it this way in James 1:19-20, Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. I have lost my temper countless times in my life, and I can’t think of a single thing I’ve ever done or said while angry that I am proud of today. But I can remember, no matter how hard I try to forget, numerous things I’ve done or said that I wish I could erase from history.

One of the many things I love about the Bible is that it is so honest about its heroes. These are real people, warts and all. Even though David was a man after God’s own heart—and I am using him as my example of living a life of holiness—that doesn’t mean he was perfect. We have already seen that David was occasionally afraid, even depressed. In 1 Samuel 25, we get to see the first real example of David’s dark side. We find that, like so many men of action, David had a fierce anger that almost got the best of him. I have named this sermon “Taming the Volcano” because so many people seem to think that anger is an emotion we cannot control. When something happens that makes us mad, we cannot be held responsible for our actions. Like trying to stop a volcano when it starts erupting, or like trying to turn the Hulk back into David Banner, once that trigger has been pulled, it’s too late. The best you can hope for is that, later on, you can pick up the pieces of whatever it is you are about to destroy. But that’s not Scriptural. Ephesians 4:26 says Be angry, but do not sin. Is that possible? Can David Banner really keep from turning green? Absolutely. In this chapter, David flat out loses it. He is about to do something awful, something he will regret for the rest of his life. Yet, by the grace of God, he gets control of himself. This Sunday, we'll see how it happened, because it shows us how to tame the volcano inside of us, as well.

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