Anger is something that I never took seriously for a long time, and I believe most Christians don't see it as a sin, they see it as a weakness.
PUT AWAY ALL ANGER
But if I look at verses like: “Put away all anger” (Ephesians 4:31) and “The wrath of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20), then I have to confess that anger is not as harmless or innocent as I thought it was.
This must change my approach when I feel wrath rising in me toward someone who's sinning against me or hurting me in some way, neglecting me or irritating me - at coworkers or family or kids or friends or whoever it is - I want to take that really seriously.
ANGER IS BLINDING
Matthew 18 tells the story of man who was so angry that he choked (v28) one of his fellows by the throat because he owed him some money. This same man himself had just been forgiven $10 billion by some else, but he was so blinded by his anger over the $1000 someone else owed him that he forgot about it. That’s how blind anger can make us to our own spiritual condition and sin in the heat of a moment. Anger is blinding! If we want to see clearly, we will seek the Lord to deliver us from this type of selfish anger that makes our blood boil.
Someone once said - 'Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy dies'. That's exactly right. Being angry and holding something against someone does nothing evil to them, but it definitely does something evil to the one who’s boiling with anger.
But there’s an encouragement for us who do struggle with anger, snapping in anger or holding it against others - God can take that anger away and change us to be like Jesus, so we don’t become out of control with anger anymore.
JAMES AND JOHN EXAMPLE
Jesus gave some of His disciples names, to Peter Jesus called him ‘rock’, which is nice - Peter must have felt pretty good to get a name like that! But to James and John Jesus called them sons of thunder (Mark 3:17), that doesn’t sound very flattering. It doesn't say in the Bible why He called them that but most it's likely because they were passionate and sometimes angry people – we get a glimpse of this in Luke 9:54 - when the Samarian village didn't welcome Jesus and so they wanted to call down fire from heaven on them!
But see what work God did in them. James was the first disciple to die for Jesus (no doubt he gave his life without fighting or arguing back), and John became known as the apostle of love, writing so much about love in the epistles.
The moral of the story I see here is that God can take an angry person and change them, He can turn them around to make them full of deep love and patience.
Romans 6:14 promises us that "Sin shall not be master over you." If we've failed again and again, consistently snapping in anger, only later on to see our foolishness - if we're sick and tired of being mastered by wrath like this over and over, then we can see God's promise here and confess that with His grace anger need not be master over us anymore.
In the next blog I would like to also address another side of anger – not when we ourselves are angry with someone else, but when someone else is angry with us.