We've heard so much lately about anger. The news has been dominated with the recent protests that began on New York City's Wall Street. The protesters, while at times vague in their message, in general gather to voice opposition to the state of the American economy. Their position is that our current dilemma is largely the result of the corporate greed exemplified by corporations who call Wall Street home. They also oppose the connection between the corporate world and our nation's government, claiming it gives a disproportionate advantage to those with financial resources.
I'm not going to debate the merits of their assertions here. That's not my calling. What I want to focus on is a central theme I've heard mentioned repeatedly from those who support them and those who don't. Everyone seems to agree that people are angry! References have been made linking this current movement to one that arose a few years ago by a group known as the 'Tea Party.' There also, what is explained is that then, as now, people were angry at the state of things. Experts are then interviewed who claim that when anger like this goes unresolved, people will behave in ways that may seem out of character.
We all get angry. There is nothing wrong with being angry. Yet, our standard as Christians must always be the word of God. How we 'feel' must never be the sole determining factor for our actions (although it will factor in for sure). Ephesians 4:26 commands us to "Be angry, and do not sin." What draws me to this scripture is the contrast made between 'being' and 'doing.' Seems to me, this is the place where we usually we get messed up.
Everyone could use assistance in dealing with things that make them angry. I've heard political leaders who support the protesters encourage them to go ahead and express their voices just 'don't break the law in doing so.' Good advice and for us personally as well. Whether the injustice is a national one, where you can get a crowd to march, or it's a personal injustice, keeping the anger inside is never a good idea. But what's vital for us as Christians is to remember that anger over injustice never justifies injustice as a response.
Paul encourages the Ephesians to go ahead and be angry. But to do so in a way that doesn't violate the life principles the Lord gives us. And I'm convinced that the Holy Spirit would not have let Paul write this if it could not be accomplished to be angry and not sin! To just allow anger to be expressed without restraint brings us dangerously to the fulfillment of the following verse, "nor give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:27).
Often times, dealing with anger is not just about what you do but about where your go. When in those places where anger reaches a boiling point, we need to go to the cross. I know that sounds overly simplistic but we need to find that place where we can shut ourselves in with Jesus and express our heart to Him. Then, once expressed, we need to stay there and listen to Him as we experience His soothing touch and enjoy the warmth of His loving embrace.
Anger need not be flying off the handle to be a concern. Many can reach the boiling point very quietly. Regardless, we need to remember that the problem in our lives is often not the anger we feel but the things we do as a result. And sin (a bad thing) as a response to anger (not a bad thing) is never excused. We don't get to do whatever we want as then say 'but I was angry!' Truth is, even when we're about to explode, we possess an ability that is far greater than any feeling we'll ever have. It's simply not possible for us to feel anything that His power can't help us rise above.
Please don't go to the other extreme here. Rising above anger doesn't mean you won't address the issues that prompted it. You will do something. The challenge is not about having anger but in how it's expressed. And the only options we're permitted as Christians are ones that fit the "do not sin" label.
We all need to regularly spend time in the Savior's presence anyway. This is increasingly vital when we find ourselves in seasons when it seems we wake up angry, go to bed angry, and remain angry in between. Beloved, God has a better way. You might need to march. That's fine. You might need to spend time away from family or friends. That's fine too. Explore with the Master, and trusted Christian friends, the best course of action. Your anger can be a channel for God to work in your life. Don't let it be a path to sin. That will just make things worse.
And trust me on that path, in the end, you'll still be angry.
Hiram Claudio is a minister and bible teacher who has traveled to 8 nations spreading the Good News of faith in Christ and victory through His name. He is married (for 29 years). He and his wife live in New York and have two sons.
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