The world around us angry. It seems as if there are more and more topics that are becoming “hot.” If you even mention things like homosexuality, racial division, or politics, there is bound to be someone who is angry about that topic. Sometimes, this anger seems based on moral or ethical principles–even biblical ones. Other times, this anger is founded on pure opinion. But no matter the case, one thing does remain true: anger is rooted in hatred, and thus drives us apart.
When we look at Scripture, we see that there are different perspectives on anger.
– In some cases, anger is flatly rejected as sin.
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matt. 5:22)
– In other cases, we see that the emotion of anger (without action) is not regarded as sin.
Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. (Ps. 4:4)
– We see many instances (especially in the Old Testament) where the God’s wrath is discussed. Since we know that God is perfect, we must also understand that His anger was not sinful.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Rom. 1:18)
– We even see that Jesus got angry when He encountered the “hardness of heart” of the Pharisees.
And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart. (Mark 3:5a)
When we think of the sinful element of anger, we must consider the destructive consequences of this sin. “The greatest danger of anger is that it is not concerned with restoration and reconciliation, but with revenge” (The 3 Colors of Community, p. 74). Anger–in its sinful form–drives a wedge between us and others.
The underlying energy for anger is justice. This is a God-given energy and when used within community, it can lead to barriers being broken and the establishment of loving, understanding relationships. Yet when this energy used in isolation, it can lead to anger and hatred. So, what, then, is the remedy for this sin?
Loving relationships transform the energy of anger; they challenge this sin, turning this energy to pursue justice and grace instead. While anger says, “I hate my offender,” loving relationships say, “Break down the barriers that separate.” Thus, working on loving relationships requires us to learn how to express the pursuit of justice in a constructive way, all the while infusing it with grace.
Do you find yourself pursuing justice? If so, do you do so through loving relationships and grace, or do you find that your pursuit results in anger and hatred?
(You can learn more about “The Path Away from Greed” on pp. 72-79 of The 3 Colors of Community.)