Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's So Bad About Anger? - And how do you know it isn't righteous?

A few weeks ago, I read a neat little post from Jon Acuff about using out-of-context verses to justify behavior. I especially liked the one about Jesus clearing the temple. I had a friend in Michigan who seemed to "clear the temple" every time the Tigers lost a game. Hopefully he kept his composure last Saturday...

Lately, I've been going through a challenging study on the book of James. One passage in particular got stuck in my head on repeat. James 1:19-20, "Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."

But why doesn't the anger of man achieve the righteousness of God?

I've come to think that most anger is a form of self-worship. Are you mad at the guy who cut in line because it was a grievous sin against the living God? Or did you get pissed because he dared to slight you when you deserve his respect? Did you get into a fight with your brother because he mouthed off to you? Or did it bother you more that he would dare to mouth off to you about whatever?

Now, if you're one of the six readers who have also read all the way through Stark Raving Obedience, then you'll know I don't consider anger inherently bad. Yes, Jesus got angry without sinning. People call it "righteous anger". That's why James pointed out how the anger of man doesn't achieve the righteousness of God. And in Ephesians, Paul tells the church not to sin in their anger. This is significantly different than if he were to say, "Anger is a sin".

My friends Tim and Kelsy have righteous anger. They work alongside people who want to expose and end human sex trafficking. Kelsy volunteers to help women coming out of prostitution. But beyond the anger, I see them hurting for these people. They're demonstrating compassion for the people while still feeling anger for the sin that enslaved them.

Tim and Kelsy were the first people I thought of when I wanted to find an example of righteous anger.

What do you get angry about? Do you know someone who exhibits righteous anger?