God-like Anger

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions (Galatians 5:19-20)…

Anger is everywhere: We watch it on television, read it in the news, hear it in political commentary, experience it in our minds and our emotions and it comes out in our speech. When the apostle Paul lists sins, he especially identifies out-of-control desires that include anger.

Anger is destructive: It separates friends, breaks marriage covenants and crushes our children. It can take different forms: murderous rages, grumbling and complaining (Numbers 14:2, 11), and in a cold shoulder or silence. At some point, it can poison us all.

Moses Throwing Down the Tablets by Simon Gaon

Anger is blinding: We can’t always see our own anger and its impact on others. Our anger feels like, “I am right” or “I am above you.” Some words of wisdom: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18). Angry people can be the last to know that they are sinfully angry.

God does get angry (more than three hundred times in the Old Testament), but his anger is not his final word:

“His anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18)

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off” (Isaiah 48:9).

One way to fight anger is to first ask how our anger reflects God.

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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