Is anger always a sin? Authors Gerald Peterman and Andrew Schmutzer explain why getting mad can be part of becoming holy.
By Gerald Peterman & Andrew Schmutzer
If anger, worldview, and ethics are related—and they are, very closely—and if a significant part of biblical faith has to do with worldview and ethics, then anger will be a vital part of living faith.
We do not have the option to live stoic lives; the God of the Old Testament is a God of steadfast love (Exodus 34:6) and also of great wrath (2 Chronicles 34:21).
Jesus our Lord is a man of deep compassion (Matthew 9:36) and also of anger and indignation (Mark 10:14). Anger as living faith can appear in at least the following ways:
First, anger can be an invitation to conversation with God.
Thus the first anger in Scripture leads to a question from God (Genesis 4:8–9). The Lord does not reject Cain because of anger, but invites a relationship with him.
Unfortunately, Cain apparently turned down this opportunity for dialogue with God; we should not.
Second, anger can be a window into one’s own heart.
It can show you and me what is important to us. We do not become angry over things that mean nothing to us.
If I am angry about a small scratch on my car but have no indignation over human trafficking, something has gone wrong with my perspective; I am walking by the flesh and not the Spirit.
Third, it is no accident that Scripture gives us examples of righteous anger from biblical characters.
Consider the anger of Nehemiah, of Jesus, and of Paul. These examples are given to help us identify with the characters; but the examples do more.
From these stories and examples we can see how life ought to be lived. They put flesh and blood on the command to imitate the faith of the godly (Hebrews 13:7).
Fourth, Scripture’s examples of righteous anger from biblical characters help us answer worldview and ethics questions.
What is injustice? What is equity? What is oppression? How is life meant to be lived in community? These are valuable questions and rarely do we have enough personal life experience to answer them well.
Scripture’s guidance helps us learn the answers to these questions from the godly men and women who have gone before us.
The value of anger, properly expressed, should not be ignored. It is a God–given emotion to every man and woman, boy and girl, a powerful tool for change for ourselves and the world around us, and is meant to bring honor to God.
Taken from Between Pain and Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering, ©2015 by Gerald Peterman & Andrew Schmutzer