In part 1, we gained an understanding of what anger is and where it comes from in biblical terms. We learned that God is angry, and his anger is always righteous and pure. Likewise, Satan is angry; however, his anger is always destructive and hateful. We saw that anger is a moral judgement; when we become angry, we are judging that something is not good or fair. As fallen human beings, our anger may be righteous, but more often than not, it is unrighteous. In part 2, we will learn that God himself will judge our anger, to determine whether it is sinful or righteous. As we have learned, anger is natural and can be righteous. The test is not whether you are angry. You should be angry. There are injustices and attacks on the character of God happening all around us. But the following six critical questions will help you determine whether or not your anger is righteous.
- Do you get angry about the right things? When you peel back the layers on your anger, what do you find at the root? When God’s laws are broken, when his name is spoken against, or when his people are being harmed or oppressed, you should have righteous anger. But when it’s your laws that are broken, your name that is spoken against, or your manmade Kingdom that is under attack, you are experiencing unrighteous, selfish anger.
- Do you express your anger in the right way? The most obvious way to test the expression of your anger is to look at whether you anger acts to condemn, or to offer help. Romans 12:19 says “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.” Your anger is never to be punitive or seek to “get even” with someone. The purpose of your anger should first be to do good to the victims of evil, and second to do good to the perpetrators of evil. Anger should motivate us to stand up for what is right in all circumstances. Your anger must not only stem from a righteous motive, it must be carried out in righteous methods. Your anger should be constructive, seeking to correct and guide others towards Christlikeness (Ephesians 4:29, 2 Timothy 2:24-25).
- How long does your anger last? If your anger is long-lived, it is not a righteous anger (Ephesians 4:26). God’s anger is mighty and fierce, but it is not long-lasting and never turns into a grudge. God’s anger is aimed towards repentance for the perpetrator followed by forgiveness from God. He does not let His anger burn over time. Can the same be said for you? I think one of the biggest enemies of this principle is being non-confrontational or passive-aggressiveness. Unless your anger is giving way to forgiveness, your anger is sinful. If you are allowing conflicts to go unresolved and turn into grudges, your anger is not righteous. This requires you to have difficult conversations. It requires you to be honest and vulnerable and actually deal with your anger. But the alternative is unrighteous, unresolved anger.
- How controlled is your anger? Righteous anger will be marked by the fruits of the spirit. Although angry, you will be gentle, patient, kind, and controlled. Unrighteous anger is harsh, easily provoked, and out of control. Which of these better characterizes your anger? When your children do something to anger you, are you able to harness your anger and turn it into a productive, gracious conversation that seeks to correct and discipline your child in love? Or does it overcome you and become destructive, seeking only to be punitive?
- Are you quick to anger? Are you someone who looks for reasons to get angry? Do you take every perceived slight, every small wrong and blow it up? Again looking to 1 Corinthians 13, we see that Christlike love is not only “patient,” but also “bears all things and believes all things.” Do you believe the best about others, or are you ready to pounce on the first perceived snub or careless remark? Are you willing to overlook a transgression, or do you demand justice for every tiny cut and scrape you are dealt? Let’s seek instead to imitate the Lord who is, “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145:8)
- What is the effect of your anger? Sinful anger creates more problems. Righteous anger seeks to bring restoration and forgiveness. If your anger has created further division or caused deep emotional wounds, it was probably not a righteous anger. On the other hand, if your anger leads to forgiveness and repentance, you can be confident you have handled yourself in a god-honoring way. If you have carried out your righteous anger in a righteous manner, you may still not see a positive resolution. The other party may still be angry, they may even continue in the behaviors that aroused your anger. But the responsibility is no longer yours (Romans 12:18).
Anger is natural for man as we are image-bearers of an angry God. And yet in all of his anger, God has never sinned. His motives have always been pure. His methods have always been appropriate. The effects of his anger have always been fruitful. Our goal in teaching about anger is not to have you become passionless or callous. Our goal is simply to help you refine your anger into one that honors God by imitating His righteous anger.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
When you get angry…
- Make sure you get angry about the right things.
- Express your anger without violating God’s commandments.
- Do not allow your anger to burn and turn into a grudge.
- Express your anger in ways characterized by the fruit of the spirit, not the sins of the flesh.
- Don’t be quick to anger; graciously overlook small transgressions.
- Evaluate the effect of your anger.
Memorize and meditate on Psalm 145:8 when you begin to feel angry.
Got angry kids?
- Discuss the book, The Heart of Anger, with other parents. Go to TCC.org, Keyword: Anger