Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” -Matthew 5:22
And yet the Bible also mentions a time when Jesus faced some of the religious leaders and the Scripture says, “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts,” –Mark 3:5
In Ephesians, Paul wrote: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” –Ephesians 4:31-32
Yet after being arrested and brought before the ruling council of religious leaders in Jerusalem where he was punched in the mouth at the command of the high priest, Paul shouted “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” -Acts 23:3
That sounds a bit angry to me.
And God himself is described as angry several times in the Bible:
David wrote in the book of Psalms: O LORD God Almighty, how long will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people?-Psalm 80:4
Isaiah 30:7 prophecies that “the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire.”
So what gives? Is it ok to be angry or not? Isn’t it a bit hypocritical of God or Jesus or Paul to say one thing and do another?
This is one of those questions that take a little bit of that Ozarks common sense. Or maybe it’s Mid-Western common sense? Or was it East Coast….? At any rate, let the theologians argue the meaning of words all they want (there I go being a little hypocritical) and let the philosophers argue until the cows start jumping over the moon.
Sometimes it helps to look for the common sense answer, not the complicated one.
And common sense will tell you that there are at least two types of anger. One that is righteous, and another kind that comes from our pride, and is centered on our self.
It’s righteous anger to be upset when injustice is being done.
It’s righteous anger when we rebuke someone, or even rebuke ourselves, for doing something wrong.
It’s righteous anger when we are defending what is right, what is good, especially when motivated by a zeal for God. It’s righteous anger when our anger is not against a person, but against sin, against unfairness, against falsehood, and any evil type of thing.
When our anger is motivated by what is right and good and true, and causes to stand for what is right and good and true, then yes, it’s definitely ok to be angry.
Common sense tells you that doesn’t it?
As a young kid growing up, when I did something wrong at school and got in trouble, my dad (who was a school teacher by the way) got angry. And he didn’t get angry for some selfish reason, but because he cared about me and the type of person I needed to be. Believe me, I didn’t like it when my dad was filled with righteous anger, (My rear end gets sore just thinking about it) but today, I’m thankful he was. I’m a better person because of it.
Common sense also tells you that anger is definitely wrong when it comes from our own pride, our own lack of self-control, our own selfish desires, is centered on self, and starts to attack and tear down someone else.
Just listen to the other things mentioned along with anger in these verses:
I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. –II Cor. 12:20
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. –Eph. 4:31
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices –Col 3:7-9
Jas 1:19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
Jas 1:20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
Jas 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
The anger talked about here was right alongside many other selfish, sinful actions that brought harm to others. Like so many other things, we can use our anger for good when necessary to fight against sin and wrong and hopefully wake up and help those around us, or we can use our anger selfishly to build ourselves up, make ourselves feel powerful, and tear others down.
The question really shouldn’t be: “Is it ok to get angry?” The question really should be: “Am I thinking and living for myself, or am I following the example of Christ and thinking and living in a way that builds others up for their good?”
Sin is always a selfish thing.
Following Jesus means putting others ahead of yourself.
Our anger or lack of it, should (as much as possible) try and reflect those principles.