Ephesians 4:26 | Be angry and do not sin.
Anger is complicated. The Bible both commands it and gives STRONG warnings concerning it (Ephesians 4:26, 31; Proverbs 19:19; Proverbs 22:24; Ecclesiastes 7:9 to cite just a few). Anger is love expressed when fueling protection of the powerless, the voiceless, the poor, and the disenfranchised. Anger destroys in petty arguments, turf wars or defensive retorts.
Anger is also deceptive. Jesus’ point about eyes, planks and sawdust comes to mind. I easily read your anger as unrighteous and mine as warranted. David Powlison writes,
Biblical truth is not revealed so that we can necessarily attain perfect analytic clarity in all situations, whether about ourselves or others. But we can live within the biblical understanding of anger. You can take our anger seriously… Anger, reoriented by God, will make you courageous, honest and persistent…Anger, reproved by God, will make you humble, honest and repentant. You can aim with all your heart for the image of Jesus: merciful, slow to anger, generous… while hating what is evil.
May I suggest a couple of things – for you first, then for those to whom you minister? Prayerfully try on the following statements. Then, repeat the exercise with a loving AND truthful friend:
- Angry people are hurt people with a deep wound(s) that desperately needs healing.
- No matter the public persona, beneath the surface angry people are afraid, lonely, insecure, and hurting.
- Misapplied anger must be treated at its roots. It is a symptom of a deeper issue. Unless we are willing to look deeply inside to find the cry behind the rage we will remain trapped in our anger, and its harmful effects will only worsen.
- At the heart of anger is a cry for respect. It is a response to a perceived threat or invalidation. Angry people are trying to preserve personal worth, perceived needs, and heartfelt convictions. Most anger is about self-preservation, a form of self salvation.
- Often there is some validity in an angry person’s desire for self-preservation. However, their communication is so distasteful, that the receiver can’t hear or receive anything good in the message. They sabotage relationship growth and healing.
- I cannot approach anger constructively, because my buttons are easily pushed, touching deep feelings of insecurity, insignificance, shame, distrust.
- Angry people often focus only on the immediate event where anger is triggered and blame the people and situations involved. They fail to see the effect of their unresolved shame, key rejections, guilt and pain from years gone by.
Whatever you find, remember the cross shows both the severity of our need and the full provision for it. Jesus came for you. Today, He stands with the Father, interceding for you. He sent His Spirit to unite you with Himself and His benefits. There is reason for hope. Let us know if we can be of help.