Can We Trust Our Anger?

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…Ephesians 4:26

Anger is an overwhelming part of our cultural, political, and personal rhetoric. Should we be concerned, or is anger an appropriate response to injustices?

God demonstrates the purpose of anger: to reveal an injustice or sin. God detests people who become rich at the expense of the poor (Deuteronomy 25:13-16), declare the innocent to be guilty (Proverbs 17:15), and murder the innocent (Proverbs 6:17).  Holy anger is an appropriate response to something broken that needs fixing.

Lovis_Corinth_Kain_1917-1

Lovis Corinth’s Cain and Abel

Cain is an example of anger that has been distorted by jealousy and self centeredness. Cain and Abel offer sacrifices to the Lord. Abel’s sacrifice is found pleasing; Cain’s is not:

So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:5-7)

God encourages Cain to act rightly and not to trust his anger. However, Cain ignores God, embraces his anger, and kills Abel.  Ungodly anger impairs our judgement (Psalms 37:8) and leads to unhealthy conflict  (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

God’s anger is directed at sin and injustice, and can be trusted. Our anger can be selfish and distorted by sin, so it cannot be trusted. Our anger can cripple our minds, so it can be hard to take on the mind of Christ. Anger is can be a poor motivator to action. It’s better to suspend our decision making until anger is no longer clouding our judgment.

Only when we master our anger can we search for the wrong which ignited it—starting with ourselves.

 

About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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