Proverbs 16:32 ¶ He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
There is a legitimate time and place for anger. One day when Jesus walked into the temple and saw that men had turned God’s house into a crooked mall he got angry.
Mark 11:5 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'”
Why was Jesus angry? Let me suggest that one aspect of his anger was his seeing how the poor and needy were being treated in God’s house. Take a look at the parallel passage found in Matthew 21:12-14, and observe that after Jesus kicked the religious merchants out of the temple, the Bible says, “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.” It seems from this text that the blind and the lame (a generic description of the poor and needy in Jesus’ day) who could not afford to buy the stuff that was being sold in God’s house were not welcomed inside. Jesus hated seeing people treated poorly, and we should too. We should hate the things that God hates, and when we see the weak being hurt or discriminated against, we should be moved to passionately do something about it. This kind of anger is OK with God. Being angry when we see God’s truth being distorted, or Christianity being prostituted and merchandised is also OK with God.
- Psalm 119:104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.
- Psalm 119:113 ¶ SAMEK. I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law.
- Psalm 119:163 ¶ I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law.
- Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.
- Proverbs 31:8 Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.
- Isaiah 61:8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
However, let’s be honest and confess that most of the things that make us angry have nothing to do with God, righteousness, truth, or standing up for others. Most of the things that make us angry are the (real or imagined) intrusions on our sense of personal entitlement. Here is a list of a few suggested entitlements:
- I am entitled not to wait behind people in the check-out line that try to save money by using coupons.
- I entitled to cut a line to ask the customer service person a question that the person I have cut off had to wait in line to ask.
- I am entitled not to be skipped in line.
- I am entitled to leave for an appointment five minutes later than I should have, therefore:
- I am entitled to drive 15 miles an hour faster than everyone else on the road so I won’t be late for the above appointment.
- I am entitled to come home to a clean house, have my dinner waiting, have the kids homework already done, sit on the couch and watch football (Monday, Thursday, Saturday Afternoon, and Sunday … but only during the regular season, then I an entitled to watch the playoffs too.).
- I am entitled to having a great night with my wife after cashing in on all of my entitlements listed in number 4.
- I am entitled to my wife taking aspirin for her headache at least two hours before I get home.
- I am entitled to everyone knowing that my opinion is the only one that is right and valid.
- I am entitled to criticize others and pointing out their mistakes.
- I am entitled not to be criticized.
- I am entitled to be listened to at all times.
- I am not entitled not to listen to others.
- I am entitled to more entitlements.
The point is: When our personal list of entitlements is threatened or violated by others we get angry. However, the scripture says to those that are followers of Jesus, “you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:20-21). Therefore, the LORD instructs his followers to:
- put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, (Ephesians 4:22)
- be renewed in the spirit of your mind, (Ephesians 4:23)
- put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
- put away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,”(Ephesians 4:25)
- “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26,27)
One aspect of self control is the ability to check our attitude and emotions before reacting. Thus, the hot buttons that trigger anger inside of us are either removed completely or insulated under a deep layer of what the Bible calls “Long-suffering.” From whence does self-control come, and where may we find the covering of longsuffering?
Let me suggest that as followers of Jesus fellowship with the LORD, and walk with Him by faith, God transforms them through the power of the Word (The Bible) and by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Our faith in Christ is what makes it possible for the, “old things [to] “pass away, [and] all things [to] become new”. Yes, the “old things” that have passed away includes our list of personal entitlements, and with them the triggers that cause us to exhibit ungodly anger.
God wants followers of Jesus, not just to become better individuals, but expressions of the life of His Son in the world. When Jesus’ life is being expressed through his followers, it looks like:
people genuinely loving others …
folk filled with joy …
people at peace …
with their hot buttons insulated by layers of longsuffering ,,,
a spiritual community where random acts of kindness are the norm …
enjoying an atmosphere goodness, …
gentleness, and …
self-control. (see Galatians 5:22-24)
Furthermore, when the life of Jesus is being expressed through his followers, “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”:
they live in the Spirit, …
they walk in the Spirit …
they are not conceited …
they do they provoke one another ..,
nor do they envy one another. (See Galatians 5:24-26)
When the life of Jesus is being expressed through His followers, their anger is not under management, it is managed.