Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (Romans 12:9, ESV)
Anger might be a strange thing to NOT give up for Lent. Anger seems like it should be something that we would want to let go. But let me make a case for anger.
This week is Holy Week. When Jesus came into the Temple on Palm Sunday, John says that he braided a whip (see John 2:15). I could almost imagine the rage that Jesus had has he prepared to cleanse the temple. His actions were calculated and came out of righteous anger.
Another incident is when the little children come to Jesus. The disciples rebuked the people bringing the children. Mark tells us that Jesus became indignant towards his disciples (see Mark 10:14). We imagine the picture of this situation with the happy Jesus and the kids sitting on his lap. We don’t often think about his reaction to the disciples.
A third instance is when Jesus tells Peter, “Get behind me Satan” (see Matthew 16:23). This is not the nice and safe Sunday School Jesus. I imagine this as the sternest of rebukes that came from Jesus.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see the anger of God stirred. We know that God is holy and righteous. He is without sin. But the Bible speaks about God being angry.
Anger in itself is not sinful. It is what we do with the anger and where we direct our anger that makes it sinful.
Anger can be a good thing. Romans 12:9 tells us to abhor what is evil. It should anger us that people go hungry. The violence that we see in the streets of our cities and many places in this world ought to bring about anger. It should upset us that bullying is a problem in our schools. There is much that is not right in our world. And we should not be okay with that.
Be angry and fight! But fight for what is right. Fight for peace. Fight for justice. Fight for those who are marginalized. Fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Stand up for those who have no voice. Help those who cannot help themselves.
A final word about anger. Consider the words of Paul in Ephesians:
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26–27, ESV)
Notice he says to be angry. But he is also quick to point out that we should not allow our anger to control us. Rather we are to control our anger. Anger is trumped by love. Often love is expressed through anger. But love should always guide our anger. Not the other way around. Consider that we are called to love even those with whom we may be angry.
- Do you think that anger is a sin?
- What is an example of righteous anger?
- Where is God calling you, out of love, to have less tolerance for someone’s actions?