Apr 24, 2013
Recently someone did something which made me angry.
It was something they should not have done, which I had asked them not to do, but which they did anyway.
And I was frustrated, bothered, and fuming. Angry.
So What Is Anger?
I’ve heard people say that anger is just a natural response to pain.
But if anger is natural, then it sounds like it’s OK to be angry. It sounds like there’s nothing wrong with being angry.
But is that true?
What Does The Bible Say About Anger?
Here’s what Jesus says about anger —
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. (Mat 5:22)
Whoa. Notice that word “everyone.” That includes me.
So my anger deserves God’s judgment. Which means it’s wrong.
And here’s what Paul says —
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Eph 4:31)
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Col 3:8)
So when I am angry, Paul wants me to put it away — get rid of it — stop being angry.
Which must mean there’s something wrong with my anger.
But why is my anger wrong?
What helped me was to ask —
What Is Anger?
The reason we get angry is because someone has caused us some loss or pain.
Let’s say someone is in the fast lane of the freeway in front of you, putting along at 45. Why does this make you angry? It’s because they are taking from you the convenience, pleasure, and freedom of going faster.
Or let’s say someone lies to get promoted instead of you. Why would that make you angry? It’s because they are taking from you the income, recognition, and satisfaction of being promoted.
See how that works?
Every time we feel anger it’s because someone has caused us some loss. And when we experience loss, it hurts. And when we hurt, we want to comfort that hurt, make up for that hurt, satisfy that hurt.
So how can we do that? We think it’s by getting back at the person who hurt us.
We think that will make us feel better.
And so we —
- say something insulting like “the gas pedal’s on the right, idiot!”
- feel bitter towards them
- slander them to other people
- have imaginary conversations where we put them in their place
- give them the silent treatment at work
- pass them in the right lane, shaking our head
- sabotage their work
So anger is the desire to satisfy my loss by getting back at the person who hurt me.
That helped me see why anger is sin.
Your Rich Uncle
Imagine you have a rich uncle, who said that if someone ever stole money from you, he would give you ten times the amount that was stolen. That’s right — ten times.
So then imagine that someone steals $10,000 dollars from you. That’s a loss. That hurts. And so you want to do something to comfort that loss, make up for that loss, and satisfy that loss.
So how can you best do that? By calling your rich uncle. Ten times $10,000 dollars is $100,000 dollars. And when you receive that $100,000 dollars, you would definitely feel comforted. You’d be at peace. You’d feel no anger.
You would still feel that what the person did was wrong. That’s called righteous indignation. And you could still press charges — not to satisfy your loss by getting back at them, but to uphold justice.
But you would not be angry.
Why Anger Is Sin
Take my anger. Someone had caused me loss. It hurt. Badly.
So I wanted to comfort my loss, make up for my loss, satisfy my loss.
And I have a rich uncle — God my Father. He has promised that the joy of knowing Him will more than make up for any earthly losses, now and forever (John 6:35; Rom 8:18; 2Cor 4:17).
But what did I do? I ignored God, and chose anger.
I tried to satisfy my loss by getting back at the person who hurt me —
- I thought about how wrong his actions were,
- I grumbled about him to my wife,
- I had imaginary conversations with him in my mind.
So can you see why my anger is wrong? It’s because when I’m angry I’m not trusting God’s promise to satisfy me. Instead, I’m trusting that I will be most satisfied by getting back at someone else.
So when I’m angry, I’m turning my back on God as my all-satisfying Treasure.
And that’s sin.
How Can I Overcome My Anger?
I’m going to turn my heart back to God, and seek Him. I’m going to trust Him to comfort my loss with His glory, His majesty, His goodness in Christ.
Lord willing, I’ll let you know how it goes in my next post.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- What Causes Conflicts? (It’s Not What We Think)
- How Jesus Enables Us To Forgive
- 6 Reasons Heart-Satisfaction Is So Crucial
- How To Be Content
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