September 20, 2010

Be angry but do not sin;
do not let the sun go down on your anger
and give the devil a foothold.
Ephesians 4.26

These days we are discussing anger.  Anger is a part of our world and we all have to deal with it, unpleasant as that can be, but probably no one has ever really taught us how to use it effectively and efficiently.  We’ve all acted impulsively and even foolishly in our anger, but no one has ever taught has how to be smart with it.  And probably, no one has ever shared God’s word with us about anger.

We’ve been relying on some basic Biblical principles that establish our perspective:
  • anger is not a sin
  • God gets angry
  • we get angry because we’re made in the image and likeness of God
  • anger is not a sin, but it disposes us to sin, it paves the way to sin.

Last week, and again yesterday, I challenged everyone to keep a log of their anger, to keep careful watch over when and where and why and how they were angry.  We printed up cards to remind and encourage people to do this, and we ran out of cards by 10am (we eventually printed up more).  Obviously this is a topic that really resonates.  So many people have told me it has them thinking, people are even stopping me in the store or at Starbucks to confirm our conviction that this is a huge topic in most households, work environments and schools.

Yesterday I also challenged everyone to try and distinguish in the week ahead when their anger is righteous and when its not.  Righteous anger is just anger at the right things, the things that anger God.  Unrighteous anger is anger that’s unjustified, morally indefensible, usually the result of our pride.  

We should get angry at the things that anger God, and acknowledge it and allow it to motivate us to action to bring about positive change.

I should be angry at all the blessings and gifts and opportunities that God has given me that I have neglected or squandered. I should be angry at the unfulfilled potential this parish church has to positively impact the community and change lives and make a difference in the world…which remains unfulfilled in part because of my own leadership mistakes.I should be angry that the Church of Christ is so irrelevant in our society, because church people, like me sometimes, have allowed it to become irrelevant.

I should be angry about those hungry, homeless kids I saw in Haiti this summer.  But instead, I’m more often angry at the wrong things, inconsequential, silly things. Unrighteous anger is anger at the wrong things, its a distortion because it takes something that frustrates me or disappoints me or doesn’t meet my expectations and raises it to a higher level, to a place it doesn’t belong.  And here’s what the Bible says about it:

Know this, my dear brothers:
everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak,
and slow to anger, for the anger of man
does not accomplish the righteous of God.
James 1.19-20

Unrighteous anger will never get us where we want to be, because it will never get us to the righteousness of God.  I am trying to keep that in mind this week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *