Monday, August 04, 2008

Angry Baby Revisited

Over the weekend, I received a comment on an old post that perhaps warrants a new post of its own. I wrote in May about how motherhood has revealed sin in my heart, specifically related to anger. An anonymous commenter suggested that I was wrong in classifying anger as a sin. The commenter cited the example of Jesus driving out the moneychangers in the temple, pointing out that Jesus was pretty angry then, and yet He was sinless.

Anonymous is right, of course; anger itself is not necessarily a sin. If it were, we wouldn't have verses like Ephesians 4:26, telling us, "In your anger do not sin"--which implies that you can simultaneously be angry and not be sinning. Maybe there are other readers who misunderstood or disagreed with my original post, so let me try to clarify.

When I described my anger as a sin, I was referring to two things:
--the way anger leads us to sin (we treat other people poorly, lashing out at them because we are angry)
--anger that is based on sin (the anger is really stemming from pride, selfishness, or other sinful attitudes and beliefs)

Both have happened in my case. For me to be rude to Steve because I am feeling irritable is wrong. And for me to feel angry because I am not in control, because things aren't going the way *I* want them to go, is also wrong--because it means I am longing to be God.

I recently read a booklet about anger by Robert D. Jones that included this helpful quote:
“Anger is a function of our judgment. We perceive something or someone to be wrong, and we respond accordingly with our whole being. …Anger against God is wrong because it accuses God of wrongdoing. To be angry with God is to perceive some wrong in God, to apprehend some evil in his ways.”

I had never heard it stated this way, but it makes a lot of sense. If I am angry about my circumstances, the annoyances and inconveniences that pop up, the tasks set before me, then in a sense, the root of my anger is anger with the sovereign God who is in control of my life and placed me in these circumstances. And this is an ugly sin--how appalling and foolish for me to declare in my feeble, limited human mind that God is wrong, that my way would be better.

Anger isn't always wrong; certainly there is such a thing as righteous anger, as Jesus proves. But I am certainly far from being like Him, and for me, anger is very often sinful. How thankful I am that His death on the cross covers all my sin--even the selfish, prideful anger that dishonors His goodness, wisdom and sovereignty.

3 comments:

Michelle McCallum said...

Good post, Amy. You explained it very well.
I am also SO thankful "that His death on the cross covers all my sin--even the selfish, prideful anger that dishonors His goodness, wisdom and sovereignty." I know I struggle with this every day. What a merciful God we have!

Jules said...

Very interesting insight.

"If I am angry about my circumstances, the annoyances and inconveniences that pop up, the tasks set before me, then in a sense, the root of my anger is anger with the sovereign God who is in control of my life and placed me in these circumstances"

I had never thought of it that way before either...

nyina said...

I had also never thought about the root of my anger over circumstances being against God. Whoa! total reality check!!Really helpful post..Genuine question:What would it practically look like to be angry and NOT sin?and, Are there circumstances or situations that *should* in a sense, make us angry?Seems to me that even when i am angry at things like social injustice, which i percieve to be righteous, that anger mutates in oh,the first 2seconds of me being angry and i honestly am struggling to imagine a situation where it IS possible to be angry and not sin..