I admit, if one has the righteous anger of the Lord, it is possible to be angry and “not sin” (Eph. 4:29). Anger is a powerful emotion, and when handled righteously, can enable us to do incredible things for God. Notice the emphasis, for God.
However, more often than not, we use certain Scriptures as an escape clause to justify our human anger. We act in evil ways because ultimately our hearts are evil (Matt. 15:19). In myself and in the ministry, I’ve noticed human anger is a symptom of self-hatred and an unhappy life. When I look back at the times I acted in rage, it was because I was unhappy with myself. I wasn’t living a life that was pleasing to God. We can be tempted to cope with the unhappiness we feel for ourselves by being angry at the people around us.
A few months ago, we had a member absolutely enraged that our kids helped lead worship on a 5th Sunday Fam Jam. This person marched up to an Elder and yelled at him, then stormed off to the car, pledging to never come back. This outburst, poor judgement, and destructive speech manifested itself in human anger.
First of all, we should be slow to anger because human anger prevents us from living a life that is pleasing to God. James puts it like this, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20 NASB). The point of Christian living is to be holy. We can’t be holy if we don’t practice the righteousness of God.
Human anger expresses itself is various forms: lies, grudges, abusive language, destructive opinions, bitterness, rage, slander, harsh words, evil behavior. A life filled with human anger is the antitheses of a life filled with the love and lifestyle of Christ (Eph. 5:2). Our human anger justifies our sinful behavior and our sinful behavior brings forth death. When we dwell in human anger, we bring sorrow to the Spirit and suppress Him from working in our lives (Eph. 4:30).
Secondly, we should be slow to anger because human anger because we can kill our relationship with God. Jesus made this emphatically clear on the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:21-26). When we are angry without a cause we place ourselves in the same category as a murderer. The Scribes and Pharisees thought they were living righteously because they didn’t murder anyone. Yet, Jesus explains the true heart and purpose of the law in that God expects us to have a love that leads to reconciliation. He wants us to love in such a way that rejoices in truth, takes responsibility for our actions, and comes to a compromise. Remember, we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
We can be "slow to anger" by taking time to pause and ask ourselves these questions:
1) What am I angry about?
2) Why am I angry?
3) Does Scripture agree with my anger?
4) Do my Christian friends agree with my anger?
5) If I asked Jesus His advice, what would He tell me to do?
6) If my anger is justified, how would I want someone to approach me in their anger?
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