In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
and do not give the devil a foothold. –Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)
Is it my imagination, or is the overall level of anger in our culture at an all-time high? Along with living through the frustrations of the COVID pandemic, the political climate is more widespread contentious than ever and it all adds up to an environment that breeds anger. It seems like people are getting mad about anything and everything. Last week I hauled our trash and recyclables to the dump site (one of the inconveniences of living in the country) and the attendant informed me that the recyclable collection bin was broken. When I smiled and told her I would come back later she thanked me for my patience and proceeded to tell me that people had been blowing up in anger all morning long over being inconvenienced by the equipment breakdown. One man even threatened to dump his recyclables on the ground. REALLY???
I wish that this kind of anger was confined to secular culture, but unfortunately, Christian people are not exempt (Some of the heated arguments that have sprung up over wearing masks at church is proof of that).
Anger is something that is part of the human experience. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that God created us with the capacity to get angry. How do I know that? Because we are created in God’s image and the Bible very clearly portrays Him as a God who gets angry.
He gets angry at injustice, at rebellion, at evil. His anger is real, it is intense, it is a force to be reckoned with. As creatures made in his image, we have that same capacity to experience strong and intense feelings of anger.
So anger can be a good thing, but here’s where we get into trouble. God is sinless and perfect. His anger is a righteous anger. When he gets angry it is for the right reason, at the right time, it is never selfishly motivated and it is always directed properly.
Our problem is that, unlike God, we have a sinful nature and often our anger is not of the righteous variety. When it is, it can be an incredibly positive thing, motivating us to attack injustice or reclaim ground lost to Satan. But often our anger is tainted by sinfulness and, instead of resulting in actions that are positive and constructive, it results in actions that are negative and destructive. That’s why Paul, in Ephesians, didn’t say, “Don’t get angry.” Instead, he admonished us to be sure that our anger doesn’t cause us to do anything sinful.
So, here are three questions that will help us resist getting sucked into this angry culture that we seem to be living in: