Anger is different than other sins in that there can be a righteousness to it. God himself gets angry. The God of the Bible is not a volatile god. He is slow to anger and abounding in love. When his anger is finally revealed, it is typically after he has offered repeated provisions to escape it. But we cannot ignore that God's anger and wrath exist. To deny God's anger is to cast off huge portions of his inspired word and make him into only a nice, safe, gentle god. He is loving and tender, but he protects his glory and holiness--and often with anger.
The trouble with our anger though is that it is often not righteous. We know this because the after-effects of sinful anger do not produce righteousness, but only guilt and shame. Not only do we sin in our anger, we may be tempted to go a step further and place the perceptions we have of sinful anger onto God and assume his anger is the same as ours.
Our anger is the yuck that pours our when we are jarred. Our anger is an indicator of what is in the heart in the first place. Killjoys* says that our anger is the result of disordered loves: mainly, that we love ourselves too much....our agenda, our ego, our plans.
Anger does indeed motivate others to act. It gets the results it wants, but what is left in its wake? A reputation for having a short fuse? broken trust? people who won't be honest with you for fear of your reaction?
Of course I am no master at fighting sin (which is why I want to offer the wisdom that is found in this book and God's word), but the author of this chapter gives three practical steps to conquer sinful anger:
1. Analyze anger early. When you feel your blood pressure rise, ask yourself "What do I have to be angry about?...Interrogate your affections!" Stop and ask, why am I spilling out this yuck when jarred? Why is my heart moved to feel this angry?
2. Remember the ridiculousness of sinful anger. Our anger shows how self-centered we can be. "We are angry in ways we should not be and at the same time not angry at what angers God." Can we see the ridiculousness of our anger in the moment? Seeing it for what it is will help talk us down from the ledge of losing it. The antidote for sinful anger is seeing our selfish desires for what they truly are and then dying to them.
3. Know that righteous anger may result when honoring God's name. Righteous anger is actually love in motion. It is a way of protecting the object of our love. You may yell at your daughter to stop when she carelessly runs through the parking lot, because you love her and don't want her to get hit by a car. This is a simple example of righteous anger protecting the object of our love. God's glory should be one thing we grow to love. Righteous anger should be driven by a desire to protect and honor God's holy name.
The Bible makes provision for righteous anger, but we cannot use this as a license to sin. Ephesians 4:16 In your anger do not sin.
The final expression of God's holy anger is still to come. His wrath will be revealed and it will be just. No argument that will stand against it.
But there is a provision for escape! And it is the good news! It comes through Jesus' death on the cross. If we fall under the covering of its protection by putting our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved.
During these days of preparation, do we recognize the great grace we have received because of the cross? John 3:16 is appropriately one of the most-quoted verses in the Bible because it summarizes the Gospel.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
But for any who feel Christ came to condemn the world and his message is one of judgment, read on...
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Apart from Jesus, we ALL stand condemned. It is most loving for those who are being saved to tell others about the righteous anger to come.
For those who don't know: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Come under the protection and forgiveness of the cross!
For those who already believe: may we stand firm in the faith God has given us and make his glory and provision of love in Christ known. May we not be driven by sinful anger in our daily doings or in our sharing Christ with others, but as we stand as Christ's ambassadors, may we rightly defend his name.
In Christ's love,
*Quotes taken from Ch 4 of Killjoys, written by Jonathan Parnell