Greetings precious people. In todayís article I would like to address the subject of anger. We will be examining this from a Biblical perspective. One of our readers had contacted me and requested that I cover the subject of anger and wrath. This opportunity is available to all of our readers. If you have an area of life that you would like to see covered in this series, contact me at one of the addresses listed below and Iíll do my best to address it in regards to what the Bible says.
Anger, as defined in Websterís Dictionary, is a strong feeling excited by a real or supposed injury; often accompanied by a desire to take vengeance, or to obtain satisfaction from the offending party.
Today in our society, we see many instances of anger. Any number of different reasons can cause anger. It may be that a spouse has mistreated their mate and this stirs anger within the mate that has been wronged. It can come when there is the sense of being mistreated at work, school, home, or in everyday life. There is no shortage of cruel and unkind people in our society. We have seen a number of instances within the past few years where those that have been mistreated over a period of time could take it no longer and have snapped. On our highways we now have ever increasing number of instances of what is being called "road rage". It seems people in our society are becoming angry more easily.
The Bible has much to say about anger. You may be surprised to hear that Godís Word, the Bible, does not always condemn anger that we may feel. There are a number of instances where Godís people became angry and God did not reprove them for it. In Exodus 11:8, "And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, 'Get out, and all the people who follow you!' After that I will go out." Then he went out from Pharaoh in great anger." This instance was at the announcement of the final plague that God would send upon Egypt for Pharaohís refusal to let Israel, the people of go leave Egypt. Moses became angry at Pharaohís abstinence and stubbornness. Moses knew that because of his actions (or lack of action), many people would suffer needlessly.
I find this occurring many times each day in our society. People acting foolishly, without regard for others or themselves. Take those who choose to drink and drive. Thousands of innocent people every year are hurt and killed by the actions of others. There are scores of other examples that I could cite of peopleís actions and inaction that are cause for us to become angry.
God gets angry also at manís actions and inaction. One instance in particular comes to mind. As Jesus was coming into the Temple in Jerusalem with His disciples, he saw what the religious had done in and surrounding the place where Godís people were coming to pray and worship God. In Mark 11:15-17, "So they came to Jerusalem. And Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a 'den of thieves.' "
The religious leaders had determined that the people that would come to worship God could only offer animals for sacrifice that were "approved" by them. The people could only offer special temple money rather than the common Roman money. Of course, all these came at a "slightly" higher price, for which the religious leaders made a large sum of money off of the people. Jesus was angry at this and rightly so. His was righteous anger.
Let me show you an example of unrighteous anger. In Mark 11:18, "And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching." The religious leaders were angry with Jesus for ruining their lucrative business and wanted to kill Him. As you know they were eventually successful. This is unrighteous anger. We are guilty of this many times because unlike God, we are not able to know all the facts surrounding each incident. We do not know what is in a personís heart and why they may respond the way they do. Someone may cut in front of us on the freeway simply because they honestly did not see us. Others may cut in front of us because they feel like being rude. We donít know the reason all the time, although we think we do. Our response is the same anyway; we get angry and utter a few choice words.
God never gets angry in this way for He knows the thoughts and intents of manís heart. He knows what the motivation behind our actions and inaction is.
The Bible does not condemn all instances of manís anger. Paul tells us some important things concerning anger. In Ephesians 4:26-32, "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you."
It is ok to be angry at the injustices that take place all around us. We should be angry. But we need to be careful not to sin in our anger. Sin takes place when we attempt to take vengeance upon those that have done us wrong. This is where wrath comes in. Wrath occurs when we try to, in our anger, deal out what we believe to be justice to those that have acted against others or us. It is best to wait and seek Godís direction and will concerning our response. Please do not misunderstand me, I do believe that there is a place for justice to be served, the Bible makes this very clear. But it needs to be done in Godís way and time if it is to be done correctly.
The wrath of man is a fruit of the flesh (of the old fallen, sinful nature of man), and does not honor or glorify God. James 1:20, "For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." God will deal with the unrighteous; He will do what is right and just for He is able to judge righteously. Ephesians 5:6 warns us, "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience."
The more you get to know God through the reading and studying of His Word, the more you will become like Jesus. You will be able to discern the difference between righteous and unrighteous anger. You will be better able to trust Him with dealing with those who do you wrong rather than taking things into your own hands. Godís way is always the best way. Trust Him to take care of every area of your life.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine