Anger-Bulletin-ImageWhat makes you angry? What gets under your skin? What just drives you crazy and makes you want to flip out? Are those good things? We are on week 3 of our series of mental health and faith with a focus on anger. Now, before we get too far into anger, I want to let you know that anger in itself is not wrong. Anger is a common emotion and one that has its place in our lives, just like all of the other emotions we are discussing. The problem comes within our responses to these emotions. It’s how we deal with our anger that creates issues. So, what should our response be?

It’s always a good choice to look to Jesus for these answers. Because Jesus gives us the perfect example of a response to anger when he confronts the people in the temple trying to sell goods and services. He flips over the tables of the money changers and shouts out; “Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.” Can you hear the anger in his voice? Can you feel the righteous indignation that Jesus was feeling as he walked into the temple that day? First, this is the right place for anger, this is justified anger, this is holy anger. Jesus was upset, he was angry, and everyone knew it.

There’s a scripture passage in Mark that talks about Jesus healing a man with a crippled hand on the Sabbath. He is confronted by the Pharisees regarding this breaking of the Sabbath law. And Jesus asks; “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” You see, there were very strict laws which the Jews needed to follow during the Sabbath. And by healing this man, Jesus, in the eyes of the Pharisees, was breaking the Sabbath law. We find in verse 5 that Jesus looked at them in anger. Jesus was angry. He was angry because they didn’t get it. They were so involved with following the law, that they couldn’t love and care for another person. Once again, a holy anger.

The bible is full of anger. There are passages throughout the Old and New Testaments where we find that God is angry, Jesus is angry, the Pharisees are angry, and even many of the biblical characters we know were angry. But they didn’t always get their anger quite right. They were angry at other things, not the things that make God angry. They were thinking of themselves which brought on the anger.

King Nebuchadnezzar got angry with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they wouldn’t bow down and worship him. They got thrown into the fiery furnace, but God saved them. The king’s anger was for selfish reasons. He was thinking about the power that he had and wanted everyone to obey him.

Balaam got angry with his donkey, even beat him a few times, all because the donkey stopped in the middle of the road. Balaam was asked to go and curse the Israelites, but with this donkey trouble, he couldn’t finish his task. His anger came from the selfish reasons, not what God really wanted him to do.

David was one that actually get the anger thing right, and it was towards the beginning of his life. It was in the middle of the battlefield, facing a larger than life giant by the name of Goliath. Trash talking is nothing new, and we can see this as we hear the conversation from the book of 1st Samuel, chapter 17; 43-47. Here we find David talking about a fight, an angry fight, but one that is fought, not for David’s sake, but for the Lord’s. It is fought for the people of Israel. You see the difference? This anger is not selfish, it is not self-centered, it is not looking for worldy things, it is anger after the things of God.

So, if anger is a good thing in this context, where is anger good for you? What makes you angry? What gets under your skin? Are you angered by the way that other person is driving? Do you find the way certain people talk irritating? Do you just cringe everytime you hear a conversation begin about politics? Does the fact that the referee missed that call against the New Orleans Saints still cause heart palpitations and cold sweats? Are these circumstances worth getting angry about, worth spending all that time and effort suffering through emotional stress? In the bigger picture, probably not.

But does the fact that thousands of people in the northern Illinois area sleep outside because they don’t have a home make you upset? Do the news broadcasts of another child being abducted into human trafficking make you sick? Or when you hear of one of our own neighborhood kids getting bullied in school make you want to stand up and say enough is enough? This is righteous anger. This is justified anger. What is our response?

I hope that after hearing about some of the people of the bible and Jesus’ example of holy anger, you will be able to discern between anger that needs a response, and those that don’t. I hope you will have the courage to stand up when you need to, when the anger that fills you, is the same anger that God is feeling.