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Christians and Anger

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Friday, June 21, 2024 @ 08:10 AM Christians and Anger Jordan Chamblee Stand Writer MORE

Anger often comes too easily to us. I personally struggle with anger more than I’d like to admit. In our fallen world, it sometimes seems there's more to be angry about than to rejoice over. However, it's crucial to understand that not all anger is inherently sinful. Even Christ displayed anger when confronted with ungodliness during His earthly ministry – particularly that of those who claimed to be the people of God. The critical question we must ask ourselves is this: Does our anger align with the righteous anger of Jesus?

To help us navigate this, let's explore three essential questions that can assess the nature of our anger.

  1. Is our anger personal or in defense of God's character?

Undoubtedly, gross sin and wickedness should offend us as believers. When we hear about sexual perversions, abuse of the vulnerable, or the tragedy of abortion, it's natural and right to feel a sense of disgust and anger. However, we must examine the root of this reaction. Are we truly motivated by a desire to see God glorified, or are we simply reacting based on our personal preferences?

If we find ourselves content with a world where these egregious sins are absent yet where people remain strangers to God's saving grace, we've missed the heart of the gospel. Our primary concern should be God's glory, not merely the absence of the kinds of sin that really bother us.

If we lack a genuine desire to see even the vilest offender come to saving faith in Jesus, we've failed to grasp the depth of Christ's love. Jesus said in Luke 5:32, "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." Our anger should be tempered with a heart that longs for the redemption of all people, no matter how grievous their sins may be.

  1. Are we angry at the sin in the world but not at the sin in ourselves?

It's too easy to become fixated on the wrongs we see in the world while disregarding our own shortcomings. This selective outrage reveals a heart that doesn't truly hate sin but rather enjoys the self-righteous pleasure of pointing it out in others. It echoes the attitude of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, who prayed, "God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector." When we focus solely on the sins of others, we leave no room for personal repentance and growth.

Moreover, this attitude betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of our need for a Savior. Jesus stated in Mark 2:17, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." If we cannot recognize our own sinfulness, we cannot honestly claim Jesus as our Savior, for He came to heal those who acknowledge their spiritual sickness.

  1. Is our anger devoid of the perspective of the cross?

Perhaps the most significant distinction between worldly anger and godly anger lies in its relationship to the cross of Christ. As believers, we have been transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God's beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). Every aspect of our lives, including our emotions, now belongs to Christ. We have been bought with a price and are called to glorify God in all things, including how we express anger (1 Corinthians 6:20).

We must ask ourselves: Can we stand at the foot of the cross and honestly say that our anger is under the lordship of Christ? Worldly anger is ruled by self, not by Christ. It knows nothing of the mercy and grace that flow from Calvary. Can we claim to embrace the cross while speaking contemptuously of sinners, forgetting that we, too, were once enemies of God (Romans 5:10)?

Worldly anger often leads us to overlook or excuse our own sins, leaving no room for repentance. It closes our eyes to the reality that our own transgressions played a part in nailing Christ to the cross. Isaiah 53:5 reminds us,

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

Nothing will more effectively root out worldly anger from a Christian's heart than a clear and constant view of the cross. When we truly grasp the magnitude of God's love and sacrifice demonstrated at Calvary, how can we remain consumed by petty, self-centered anger?

From worldly anger to Christlike love

As we grapple with these questions and seek to align our anger with God's righteousness, we must remember the ultimate reality of Christ's sovereignty. He is seated at the right hand of God, ruling over all things and working all things together for His purposes. As Psalm 110:1 declares, "The Lord says to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.'"

Instead of expecting this fallen world to meet our expectations and becoming angry when it inevitably fails, let us fix our eyes on Jesus. We are called to a life of ongoing repentance, continually examining our hearts and aligning them with God's will. As we do so, we can wait patiently and hopefully for the day Christ's perfect and righteous anger will finally and fully destroy sin.

In light of this glorious future, we have far more reason to live victoriously than to dwell in indignation. Our lives should be marked by the fruit of the Spirit, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Rather than anger, these qualities should characterize our interactions with believers and unbelievers.

As we navigate the challenges of living in a fallen world, let us remember the words of James 1:19-20: "But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." When it arises, our anger should be tempered by the love of Christ, focused on God's glory rather than our own flawed perspective, and always mindful of our need for grace and forgiveness.

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