It is far too easy to be angry. As a conservative Christian who is constantly confronted with the reality of sin in the world through the media, I struggle with anger more than I care to admit. I’m angry at abortion. I’m angry at prostitution. I’m angry at the restriction of religious freedom. I’m angry at our agenda-driven education system. It seems sometimes there is more in our nation to be angry about than to be happy about.
Don’t get me wrong. There is such thing as godly anger. Christ Himself was angry when He saw the unrighteousness and injustices during His time on earth. Here are some questions we need to consider.
1. Why are we angry? Is it personal or is it in defense of God’s character?
Gross sin and wickedness offend me. I am utterly disgusted when I hear about sexual perversions, abuse victims, and abortion. But how do I know that this anger comes from a desire to see God glorified? Am I merely trying to uphold my personal preferences?
Let us face these truths: If we would be content to live in a world where everyone is respectable on the outside but still strangers to the saving grace of God, then we care nothing for God’s glory. If we do not have a true desire to see the vilest offender come to Christ, then we know nothing of the love of Christ. If we are angry because sin offends us but not because it offends God, then we are misrepresenting Him in the world.
2. Are we angry at the world’s sin but excuse our own sins?
Often I can get so caught up with what is wrong out there that I forget what is wrong in my own heart. This is so conveniently easy. We are able to complain about an elected official playing golf instead of doing his job while we’re doing much the same thing at our own workplace. We get upset at infidelity but are careless when it comes to our own wandering thoughts and wandering eyes.
What does this say about us? We don’t really hate sin. We enjoy complaining about it. We get pleasure in being able to say with the Pharisee, “Thank you Lord that I’m not like that tax collector!” There is no room for repentance in our own hearts because we are too busy demanding repentance from the world. A person who cannot see their own sins cannot claim Christ as their Savior; He only came to heal the sick, not those who are healthy in their own eyes.
3. What does our anger say to those who are strangers to our God?
We are dealing with people who know absolutely nothing about our God except for how they see His followers acting. This is a dangerous situation. We are the body of Christ, and what we do will be attributed to Him. If our anger is misdirected, selfish, and blind to the faults within ourselves, then those characteristics will be applied to Christ. If we must be angry, let it be Christ-like anger that points the sinner to the mercy seat.
4. Are we serving Christ with our anger?
As Christians, we have been brought from one kingdom to another, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. There is nothing in us that doesn’t belong to Christ. We are, through the cross, bought and paid for. Our anger belongs to Him.
Can we stand in the shadow of the cross and truthfully say that our anger is under the rule of Christ? Self, not Christ, rules worldly anger. Can we claim the cross, yet speak derogatorily of sinners, calling them names and treating them with contempt? Worldly anger knows nothing of mercy. Can we embrace the cross and forget that our own sins nailed Christ to it? Worldly anger makes us overlook or excuse our own sins, having no room for repentance. Nothing will stamp out worldly anger from the heart of a Christian faster than a clear view of the cross.
When we understand that Christ is Who He says He is, how can we be consumed with worldly anger? He sits at the right hand of the throne of God, ruling over all things and working through all things until His enemies are put under His feet (Luke 20:43).
There is a time and a place for anger. Christ visited the Temple in Jerusalem and overturned tables. He even made a whip and forcefully drove out the merchants with their livestock. He was angry. But it is better to have an attitude of mercy than anger, as Christ did when saved us from our own sins.
Instead of expecting this sinful, rebellious world to meet our expectations, let us look to Christ and repent of our own sins. Prayerfully examine all issues and allow God to direct your indignation. But above all, wait patiently and hopefully for the day when His perfect and righteous anger finally destroys sin once and for all. We have more reason to live victoriously than we have to live indignantly.