How many of us have ever been angry? Perhaps someone slighted us. Maybe we have witnessed an injustice. Or, someone we love has been hurt and we have joined them in their anger. Some of us get angry and that anger festers for days, weeks, months, even years. Others of us get angry in a nanosecond and then the anger passes. Sometimes we do great harm to others in our anger and sometimes we harm only ourselves. And we do things out of our anger that make lives messy and painful. And we need to go back and apologize for something we have said or done. When we let anger fester it can only lead to trouble and misery. Worst of all, when we are angry at or with someone, it is usually us that suffers and not the one we are angry with.
Scripture has much to say about anger. God tells us to let go of our anger as soon as we can, partly because that sort of anger will most likely lead to sin. Psalm 37:8 tells us, "Don't give in to worry or anger; it only leads to trouble.” Anger is one of those things that the evil one uses to cause us to sin. He will use our anger to cause us to say things we don't want to say and do things we know we shouldn't. And when we act based on our anger, it is easy to make decisions that are not good. Hard as it might be, when we get angry it is best if we step away from the situation that is making us angry, take a few deep breaths and count as far as we need to. This is a great time to go to the Lord in prayer. Paul says something very similar in Ephesians 4:26. ”If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.” Keep in mind, everything we do has consequences...good, bad, or ugly.
We read in the Book of James ”My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” When we find ourselves in situations that have the potential to make us angry it is good to spend time in prayer before hand if possible. That helps us keep our faith in Him and we can trust that God will be in the middle of the situation. If we keep our focus on God and ask for help, He will guide and lead us.
Paul reminds us In Ephesians 4:26-27 to not let the sun go down on our anger and do not give the evil one a foothold. He reminds us that we cannot let our anger fester and color all we are called to do. It is only in the Lord that we can overcome our anger. But the evil one looks for chances to worm his bad self into our lives and cause havoc. Anything he can do to wrench us away from God and God's people is good for the evil one. And he has been very busy lately.
There is plenty of anger these days. And this anger is leading to hate and division and destruction. I have found myself angry. A friend has a grand daughter who is adopted from China. When the pandemic first started kids in her class at school started leaving masks on her desk because they believed it was her fault. That makes me angry. It makes me angry that black America are afraid to leave their houses for fear of being arrested without cause. They fear getting shot or assaulted...or worse. This country calls itself the land of the free and the home of the brave. But our black brothers and sisters do not have the same freedoms as we do. And those who terrorize them are not brave. They are cowards who have no idea how fortunate they are.
But there is also righteous anger, anger that sees injustices or an offense against God or His Word. Righteous anger doesn't cause division, nor does it seek to hurt someone. Righteous anger cares about others. It attacks the sin and not the sinner. We don't often think of anger when we think about Jesus, but He hated injustice. In Matthew 21:12 we see Jesus entering the temple and turning over the tables. His anger came from injustice. The tables were set up in the outer court of the gentiles. This is where the money changers were located and those who sold animals for sacrifice in the temple. The money changers were charging exorbitant fees, gouging the poor who just wanted to come to the temple to worship the Lord. And those selling animals were also price gouging. Jesus’ point was these folks had turned the temple, God's house into a marketplace. And, they were taking advantage of those who could least afford to pay too much.
We live in challenging times. People worry and fear. We fear things we do not understand and people who are different than us. But when you peel off our skin, we look the same. When you peel off our skin politics don't matter, or nationality, religion, race or creed. We need to remember that every single one of us is created in the image of God... EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. God does not make distinctions, choosing one over another. And if in fact we claim to be followers of Him, we shouldn't either. Anger has the potential to destroy everything in its path. But this city, state, country and world does not need more anger. It needs to see the light of Christ that brings hope and peace, mercy and grace. We have received that as a gift from our Lord and Savior. How cool would be if things change when we share that instead of anger.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W