Is it okay, to be angry?

I’ve always heard it preached, that anger is okay. People would quote Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not:” and say, “Look! You can be angry, as long as you aren’t sinning.” This made perfect sense to me, and I took it as truth. But in time I’ve come to find another verse not far away, it says:

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” Ephesians 4:31

Wait.

So isn’t that a contradiction? One verse tells us to be angry and not sin, and the other tells us to put our anger away? How can this be?

On another note, multiple verses tell us to be “slow to anger.” So anger is permissible, but only if you are not quick to anger?

With all of these thoughts, let us turn to our ultimate example- Christ.

It may surprise you that Jesus was angry upon multiple accounts. One time is mentioned in Mark 3. Jesus is about to heal the a man in the synagogue. He challenges the Pharisees ideas and they do not reply. In that moment, He was very angry. It says that he looked around at them in anger. Then, he healed the man.

Notice Jesus didn’t become violent, He didn’t act out in anger. He kept to His purpose. He continued His ministry. He continued to love. And from everything we read in that passage,

He moved on.

I think the answer to the anger question is simple.

In our anger, we should not sin. So that means we don’t lose control. But more than this, we don’t lose our focus. Not sinning in anger is more than just not yelling at someone, or not punching them in the face. No. It’s much more. In order for us to have anger in it’s proper place, we must be able to

Be angry, and still love

Be angry, and still prefer others above ourselves

Be angry, and still have Christ as our supreme focus, delight, and desire.

I have come to this conclusion, which I ask you to consider carefully before you accept. If our anger detracts, deters, or detours us from any objective- it is sin. If we flicker in our devotion to God. If we glance away from His plan for our lives. If we use it as an momentary occasion for pride, it is sin. If we feel anger as a reaction to an affront against us, instead of being angry for the sake of God’s honor, it is sin.

I do not know what kind of anger you have known, but my anger is most assuredly always an occasion of pride. It is always a moment of “How dare they ____ to me.” My anger is always in defense of what I think I “deserve.” True humility and love teaches me that I deserve nothing. And I need no defense.

I truly believe, if we are angry, it should be on behalf of God, and not ourselves.

If you have known this righteous anger, then I salute you, but there is still another aspect to consider. Ephesians 4:31 says, we must put our anger away. No matter how righteous your anger is, it will not be righteous for long, if you allow it to stay. The children of God must not live in a spirit of anger. We must not let it dwell in our hearts. Read the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering . . .

Do these all coexist with a heart full of anger, I think not. Let us be like our glorious Creator, of which it has been said,

“The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to angerand abounding in mercy.”

Psalm 103:8

 

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Government corruption- it’s here to stay

There is a valuable gem in Ecclesiastes 3, if you read too fast, you will miss it. It says, “And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.”

To make it short, in the government, and in the lives of believers- there was sin.

Solomon’s observation isn’t a yin yang idea, it’s about the prevalence of sin in earthly life. In this life, we will never escape sin. It’s not up for debate, no matter how righteous you are, no matter how hard you strive for right living, you will fail. This extends to all areas of your life, and it’s not just limited to you.

Others will fail as well.

This isn’t something we like to ponder, but it’s something we can learn from. If we know that people are flawed just like us, we can expect them to make mistakes. Instead of hating them, or getting angry, we can practice patience- knowing we have just as many flaws.

This applies to people in authority as well. Solomon spoke of sin in the lives of the righteous, but also in places of judgment. The police, the judges, the politicians- all of these will have flaws. They will have sin. They will have wickedness.

Does this mean that we give up on our government and our personal lives? No. But neither do we become endlessly frustrated at the sight of sin. God requires our our patience and perseverance in order to conquer sin in our lives. He also calls us to pray for everyone in authority.

Sin is not acceptable, but knowing that it’s unavoidable can be a comfort to us when we fail. God expects our very best, and that means we never stop the fight against sin in our lives. But God also understands that we are incapable of sinlessness. If we come to Him in humility and repentance, He will never turn us away.

“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Psalms 103:14

 

Do you have a heart?

Have you ever known someone that was really annoying? They were rude, unsportsmanlike, selfish, and didn’t seem all that intelligent? Perhaps this person did more and more to reduce their value in your eyes. Over time, you didn’t care what that person thought or felt, and pretty soon, you didn’t give one iota about their well being either.

I must confess, I’ve been there. There have been some times that I have had so much disgust for someone that I almost hated them. I honestly believe that this sort of miserable condition is what Proverbs 11:12 is speaking of when it says,

“He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”

That word despise really carries the meaning of “to value as nothing.” It’s easy to devalue people who don’t treat us the way we want. It’s natural to love less those who disrespect us, but the God has something very profound to say about this. He says that such a person who devalues his neighbor is devoid of wisdom.

But it doesn’t end there. The Hebrew word translated as wisdom, is translated over 500 times as our word “heart.” So let’s put this in a literal way. If you don’t value or love your neighbor, you don’t have a heart.

On the other hand, if you are a person of intelligence and understanding, then you will hold your peace. You will be silent. You will keep the peace. Perhaps you will even love them.

Those are some pretty intense opposites.

I challenge you, search your heart. See if there is someone that you do not value as God values. It is not a healthy thing to harbor feelings or attitudes that do not coincide with God’s view. In case we didn’t get the full picture from this scripture, God spells it out in Proverbs 14:21 when He says, “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth.”

Don’t allow selfishness and pride reduce you to devaluing another.

Have a heart,

or ask God to give you one.

Are you better than a conqueror?

What is your reaction to hard times? Do you allow your situations to determine your demeanor? It is natural to have emotions and react to the situations around us. When Jesus was on earth, he was angry, he wept, he was weary, and he rejoiced. Through all this, Jesus kept himself under subjection.

Proverbs 25:28 says, "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." If we understand the cities of the past, we know that their main defense was their walls. A city with well built walls could repel a great army with a much smaller amount of defenders. Our self-control is truly a defense against Satan’s attacks.

In John 2:15, Jesus is in the middle of overturning the money changers tables. He made a whip and began to drive the merchants out of the temple. He declared His Father’s house to be one of prayer, and not a den of thieves. In 2:16 though, we find something interesting. It says, "And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence;" Did you see that? Jesus drove out the animals, overturned the tables, but he told the merchants to TAKE the doves. Despite our Savior’s righteous indignation, He had self control.

You can stand up a table, and herd oxen again, but it would be really hard to catch a dove. Jesus knew this and acted in self control. Jesus was angry, but He was not in sin. He is the perfect example of Ephesians 4:26, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:"

How about you? When you get frustrated, do you allow your anger to get the better of you? When you are in a tough situation, do you allow your circumstances to drag you into depression. I would like to challenge you, encourage yourself in the Lord. Our circumstances will influence us, but we should never allow them to control us. If you are in a tough situation, take your eyes off the world around you and look to Christ. He will give you to inner strength to walk in righteousness despite how your emotions entice you to act or think. If we control ourselves despite our emotions, God says that we are better than one who conquers a city.

"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." – Proverbs 16:32

What are you wrestling against?

Have you ever gotten in a dispute with someone? You were arguing with them and they said something that was absolutely not true. The thought of it aggravated you and you erupted into anger. You may have said or done something you regret. You stayed angry for a minute, or a day, or maybe longer. Maybe you are still angry at them. God wants us to live in harmony and peace. Anger has it’s place, but we should not allow it to control us.

I would like to share an interesting perspective that a missionary once showed me. He used the verse, Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” How often do we get sidetracked. We somehow think that we are wrestling against the person that we see. We get angry against our teachers, our parents, our boss, that annoying coworker. We are so eager to take arms against a fellow believer, or against an unbeliever. They can so easily become the object of our disdain and hate. But this is not a biblical reaction.

The person we see before us is not the enemy. The enemy is Satan. Satan and his demons have used the person as a tool to spread discord. I would like to challenge you, realize your true enemies. The person you may be tempted to hate is not your enemy. They are one in need of prayer. Don’t believe the lie that your enemies are the ones you can see. We do not fight the seen, but the unseen. So often we ourselves can be used as the tool of our enemy. So next time you are temped to react negatively toward someone, remember your true adversary.

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. 

-Ephesians 4:26-27