We are living in an angry world. From terrorist attacks to political protests, our daily headlines are smattered with stories of human atrocities that instill both fear and anger. War, economic uncertainty, social unrest, persecution and human suffering have become all-too-familiar concepts in our modern world.
You might be wondering how we, as Christians, are to live and function in a world seemingly dominated by those who wish to dominate others. How does God expect us to respond to such people and events?
Anger is Normal
First, we must understand that anger is absolutely normal.
The Bible gives us many clear examples of God’s anger. Given that humans are created in the image of God, it makes complete sense that this emotion would be passed along to us. The difference between God’s anger and our’s lies in the fact that God is holy, righteous and perfect and we are not.
Where we run into problems is when we react out of our anger from a sinful state. There is a huge difference between God’s perfect anger (which occurs to bring about the submission of a prideful heart) and our imperfect anger (which occurs through a prideful heart to bring about submission). The two are actually reversed!
Anger is not Sin
Second, it is important to understand that anger is not the same as sin. The Bible makes this abundantly clear by differentiating between the two:
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” – Ephesians 4:26
If anger and sin were the same, this verse would just read “Do not be angry,” but this is not the case. In this short verse, Paul acknowledges that people get angry but commands them not to act on their anger with sinful behaviors.
In John Chapter 2, we get a vivid picture of Jesus, himself, getting angry when he drives off bankers (“money-changers”) and people selling sacrificial animals in the temple during Passover.
Jesus’ anger was justified at the desecration of the temple by profiteers and modern-day banksters. The anger He experienced stemmed from the righteous nature of God and not the self-righteous nature of a fallen, sinful man.
How would you or I have handled that situation?
So, feelings of anger are not sinful in, and of, themselves. It is only when we take action on those feelings through self-righteousness (pride) that we fall into the self-imposed trap of sin.
Love through Anger
Lastly, and maybe even more importantly, is how do we go about demonstrating love when we are angry? Is this even possible?
Remember, love and anger are not opposites. That is to say, you can be angry with someone whom you love (right, parents?) – the two are, thankfully, mutually exclusive.
That being said, we should be extremely careful to avoid what the Bible warns us about in Matthew 24:12 concerning the end times:
“And because lawlessness (iniquity/sin) will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” – (ESV, emphasis mine)
If we read this carefully, it is clear that Christians too will have their love grow cold. You see, it is easy to hate – that comes quite naturally to our flesh. But love, on the other hand? Not so much, if we are honest.
So how can we keep our love from growing cold? The answer lies in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Are we daily seeking his counsel and wisdom in prayer? Are we saturating our minds with the Word of God, meditating on it day and night? If not, we run the risk of growing cold towards our fellow-man.