Love's Anger

What is it that makes you angry? Is it when people don’t pull their weight of responsibility? Is it the traffic, your job, your family situation, the moral evils of our society, or politics? Though we all express anger in different ways, we are all angry people because we are made in the image of God who is a God of wrath. We are created to be angry.

We are created to be angry because we are created to love. Anger is a revelation of love. God is angry every day (Ps 7.11). He is angry because the wicked seek to subvert his good purposes for creation and destroy it. Not to be angry would be a moral deficiency. Which one of us doesn’t become enraged when we hear of some mother who throws her newborn child into a dumpster to die? Who of us doesn’t become furious with the man who sexually abuses children and then murders them? When we become angry at these sins, we are reflecting the righteous anger of God himself. Not to be angry with this sort of unrighteousness would be a sin. There are times that we should be angry.  

As it has with everything about us, sin has twisted this aspect of the image of God in us so that we become angry for the wrong reasons. We are angry for the wrong reasons because we love the wrong things. We love ourselves, our desires, and our goals above everything, so anytime anyone gets in our way, blocking our goals, our sinful self-love is revealed through some expression of anger.

You want to be left alone, but your wife and children need you. They are getting in the way of what you want to do. You become frustrated and curt with them. They are in the way of “king me” and what I want to do. 

The traffic jam has kept you from a meeting. You begin to fume on the road, yelling at people, refusing to show courtesy to other drivers. Your anger is accomplishing nothing but revealing your love for your own kingdom. 

That brother in Christ of yours in your local church really sinned against you. Instead of being quick to forgive him, you choose to become bitter, stewing in anger. To hold this bitterness gives you some sense of power over the person. He now owes you, and you don’t want to give up your power through forgiveness. You love sinful power over people. 

Example after example could be given from our daily lives of how our anger reveals our loves. The answer to our anger is not, “Never be angry,” but “Be angry and sin not” (Ps 4.4; Eph 4.26). To be angry and sin not is to be angry the way and with what God is angry. To be angry in the way and with what God is angry means that our loves must be in harmony with his loves. God loves his people and is angry with anything that seeks to destroy them. We are to be angry with the same things. We are to be angry with our sin. We are to angry with the sins that would divide the body of Christ. 

This righteous anger doesn’t “fly off the handle” at people, but it moves us to deal with matters constructively. Having the right reasons to be angry doesn’t justify expressing anger in unrighteous ways. Sure, there are times that we must be firm, direct, and hard in dealing with sins, but it is always for the building up of others. Righteous anger moves us to heal not destroy. It is the difference between a scalpel and a broad sword. Both cut but to different ends.

The next time you find yourself becoming angry, pause for a moment and ask yourself, “What is my anger revealing about what I love?” Seek to look at that love honestly and ask God to help you to see that love for what it really is so that you might move to loving the way he loves.