Sunsetting Our Anger

| Mon, May 16, 2011 | Set 1 Week 20

Share | Comments Off on Sunsetting Our Anger

Our anger is dangerous. And the clock is ticking.

True, there is righteous anger that is rightfully riled at the God-belittling sin we see around—and in us.

Sometimes Jesus exuded compassion over the hardness of heart he encountered, but other times he expressed righteous anger, especially toward two-faced leaders.

The Bible frequently characterizes God as angry toward those who stiff-arm his love and rebel against him in sin. But never once does the Bible depict such divine anger as sinful. God’s wrath is always righteous.

But we’re not divine, and even the best of us aren’t all that well put together morally yet. In our holiest moments, those of us who have walked with Jesus the longest are still so mired in sin. We’re not yet good enough to get good and angry with the righteous anger of God. And so the apostle Paul would spare us the whole ordeal.

When You’re Angry

When he says, “Be angry and do not sin,” he is not commanding that we get ourselves angry. Let’s not think enough of ourselves to take it as a command.

Because we’re sinners living in a fallen world, Paul assumes that we will get angry. He’s quoting Psalm 4:4, which is Hebrew poetry, and can come across in English appropriately as “when you are angry, do not sin.”

Again, he is not telling us to be angry. But he knows there are times when we will be, and he charges us to avoid sin by dealing with it quickly, and Christianly, by beelining toward the place where anger, righteous and unrighteous, goes to die, the cross of Calvary.

Before Sunset

Paul adds, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” His point is not that we wait till the big blazing ball is approaching the horizon and then reluctantly go to the one with whom we have offense and have the difficult conversation. The point is that we pursue reconciliation right away. By the end of that day would be great. And before then would be even better.

But also he would not have us merely go through the motions of reconciliation, exchanging mere formal apologies just to beat sunset, when there hasn’t yet been any change in our hearts.

The Place Where Anger Dies

God means for the occasion of anger in us to be a reminder for us to recalibrate our hearts on him. He is not summoning us to muster up our own strength and bludgeon the anger to death with our willpower. Rather, he wants us to again look to him in faith and conquer our anger with the power of grace that flows from him through the Holy Spirit and faith.

In particular, God means for us to rehearse his great love for us in Jesus, that though we are guilty rebels against him, Jesus received God’s righteous anger toward us so that we would not be drowned by it. Jesus threw himself overboard into the sea of God’s righteous anger that we might live. How much more ought we, who are often so unrighteously angry, not vent our irritation on others but lay it down at his anger-conquering cross.

Christians are people who are being increasingly shaped by the grace of the cross—people who increasingly, when angry, return to the God of the gospel and lay our anger at the feet of the one who loves us to death and rules every detail in the universe for our good.


Comments are closed.