I spend a lot of time in this blog critiquing current events: our government and its policies; the unbalanced media coverage; the antichristian aspects of our culture; the way Christians sometimes go along with ungodly practices.
It’s easy to get angry when you focus on such things. I can say, though, that most of the time it’s not anger that motivates me, but anguish over the path we have taken as a society—a sadness that we are throwing away the many advantages and blessings we’ve received, and that we are trashing our heritage.
Anger is not always wrong, however. The prime Scriptural example in the New Testament has to be when Jesus took a whip and drove the moneychangers out of the Temple. I don’t think He asked them politely to move. He was angry with how they had cheapened the worship of God.
Jesus didn’t sin when he displayed His anger. His was a righteous anger. One key passage in the book of Ephesians gives insight into the anger issue when it admonishes,
In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
What does this teach us? First, anger is not necessarily sin. Second, it can become sin if it festers, so don’t allow it to direct your actions. Third, if you do give in to anger and do something foolish while angry, you’ve just provided an opportunity for Satan to use it to his advantage.
Sometimes I do worry about Christians who get involved in trying to change the society. Don’t get me wrong—we are to be involved, and God tells us to be the change agents. But we have to do so in the right spirit.
When is anger allowed?
- Sin should always make us angry, since the selfishness at the root of all sin destroys everything good that God has created. It devastates people and makes their lives miserable.
- A culture that rejects God’s standards should make us angry as well. When we see men setting themselves up as the determiners of good and evil, right and wrong, and their ways are not God’s ways, they are leading others into a horrible deception that will separate them from God and His love.
- Government policies that make civil government into the ultimate authority in people’s lives should engender anger. The arrogance that accompanies “government as savior” is the opposite of the true spirit of the Gospel.
Yes, for all these reasons, we can be angry. The key is to direct that anger into a God-inspired response, a response that certainly calls out sin for what it is, but simultaneously reveals the heart of God. What is that heart? More than anything else, God wants to rescue men and women from the pit into which they’ve placed themselves.
The rescue He wants to achieve must begin with a clear message that sin is sin and that repentance is required. Then it moves on to the revelation that God has provided a way for that sin to be forgiven by sacrificing Himself for humanity. The love displayed through that sacrifice can break down man’s wall of stubbornness and rebellion that he has erected against the One who reaches out to him.
What begins with anger should end with a deep desire to “salvage” those caught in deception. That’s what the word “salvation” really means. We’re involved in a salvage operation.
My admonition to my fellow Christians who want to see change is to be wise. Don’t let your anger carry you into sin yourself. Be open to how God wants you to respond and do so intelligently. Only then can we make a difference.