It is far too easy to be angry. I struggle with anger more than I care to admit. It seems sometimes there is more in our world to be angry about than to be happy about. Don’t get me wrong, we should be angry about some things. Christ Himself was angry when He saw the unrighteousness and injustices during His time on earth. Here is the question we need to consider: is our anger the same kind as Jesus’?
Here are some questions that assess our anger.
1. Is it personal or is it in defense of God’s character?
Gross sin and wickedness offend us. When we hear about sexual perversions, abuse victims and abortion, we should be disgusted. But how can we know that this reaction is coming from the desire to see God glorified rather than our own personal whims and preferences?
If we would be content to live in a world where these gross sins aren’t committed and everyone is respectable but still strangers to the saving grace of God, then we care nothing for God’s glory. If we do not have a deep, true desire to see the vilest offender come to Jesus, then we know nothing of the love of Christ. If we are angry because sin offends us but not because it offends God then we have forgotten what it means to be a servant of the King.
2. Are we angry at the sin in the world but not at the sin in ourselves?
Often we can get so caught up with what is wrong in the world that we forget what is wrong in ourselves. We are able to complain about someone wasting time instead of doing his or her job while we’re doing the same thing at our own workplace. We get upset at infidelity but are careless when it comes to our own wandering thoughts and wandering eyes.
What does this say about us? We don’t really hate sin. We enjoy complaining about it. We get pleasure in being able to say with the Pharisee, “Thank you Lord that I’m not like that tax-collector!” There is no room for repentance in our own hearts because we are too busy demanding repentance from the world. A person who cannot see their own sins cannot claim Jesus as their Savior; He only came to heal the sick, not those who are healthy in their own eyes.
3. Is our anger bereft of the cross of Christ?
This is perhaps the biggest difference between “worldly” anger and “godly” anger. As Christians, we have been brought from one kingdom to another, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. There is nothing in us that doesn’t belong to Christ. We are, through the cross, bought and paid for. Our anger belongs to Him. Can we stand in the shadow of the cross and truthfully say that our anger is under the rule of Christ? Self, not Christ, rules worldly anger. Can we claim the cross, yet speak derogatorily of sinners, calling them names and treating them with contempt? Worldly anger knows nothing of mercy. Can we embrace the cross and forget that our own sins nailed Christ to it? Worldly anger makes us overlook or excuse our own sins, having no room for repentance. Nothing will stamp out worldly anger from the heart of a Christian better than a clear view of the cross.
When we finally understand that Christ is Who He says He is, how can we be consumed with worldly anger? He sits at the right hand of the throne of God, ruling over all things and working through all things until His enemies are put under His feet (Luke 20:43). Instead of expecting this fallen, rebel world to meet our expectations and being angry when it refuses, let us look to Jesus, repenting of our own sins, and waiting patiently and hopefully for the day when His perfect and righteous anger finally destroys sin once and for all. We have more reason to live victoriously than we have to live indignantly.