Inside Out

Have you ever seen Pixar’s movie Inside Out? The story is centered around a young teenage girl named Riley and her family after they relocate across the country to San Francisco. The real stars of the movie, however, are the personified characters of her emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. The movie does an incredible job of bringing to life the internal (and therefore external) struggle that takes place when Joy and Sadness are taken out of Headquarters leaving Anger, Disgust, and Fear as the driving emotions in her life. It is then that things quickly become unbalanced and destruction begins to take place within Riley’s closest relationships.

In the message this past weekend, we specifically dug into Matthew 5:17-26 where Jesus teaches on navigating anger in the life of believers. There is a pretty high standard set in this passage that is echoed throughout Scripture on how we, as Christians, should actively address anger and pursue humility and reconciliation. 

Just like in the movie, we all internally possess and experience a range of emotions, anger included. Like me, you may not consider yourself to be an expressively angry person, but we cannot be naive to believe that our own anger does not exist. And in many ways, hidden or suppressed anger may lend itself to being the most destructive if not brought to light. 

ACTIVATION: Ask the Holy Spirit to examine and reveal even the most hidden pockets of anger in your heart.

“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” - Ephesians 4:26-27 (MSG)

Anger, in and of itself, is not wrong. Other translations say, “Be angry and sin not.” (CSB) and “Don’t sin by letting anger control you.” (NLT) In other words, it is what takes place in our thoughts and actions beyond the emotion that really matters.

I believe that anger is a signal to the things that deeply matter to us. More specifically, I would suggest that when anger arises, it is often triggered by a place of pain, passion, or pride within us. And therefore, we would be incredibly wise to stop, pay attention to, and reflect on these places in our lives. 

JOURNAL: Describe in detail the last time you really got angry. What was said or done to trigger that anger? Looking back now, does this signal to a place of pain, passion, or pride within you? 

If your emotion was a result of pain, reflect on Psalm 34:17-20 (NLT).

“The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!”

If your emotion was a result of passion, reflect on Titus 3:3-11 (MSG).

“It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, easy marks for sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this. I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone. Stay away from mindless, pointless quarreling over genealogies and fine print in the law code. That gets you nowhere. Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off.”

If your emotion was a result of pride, reflect on Philippians 2:3-8 (ESV).

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

It is the root of our anger that we need to be sensitive to. As we have learned already in this series, Jesus is always after the motivations of our hearts. This is hard work and is only made possible through the Holy Spirit. We won’t find a culture that supports this way of life. Pastor Aaron often says, “The culture of the Kingdom is upside down compared to the culture of this world.” And as Kingdom people, the only way to authentically live this out is to do so inside out.

PRAYER: Ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your next steps. Boldly ask Him for what you need, whether that be healing and the courage to forgive, actionable next steps towards mercy and justice, or a renewed mind that operates through the Fruit of His Spirit.
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