Angry Like Jesus
Matthew 21:12,13 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers…
I am generally not an angry person, but when my will is frustrated, I tend to seethe inwardly. When I get angry, it is of course, justified, as I am always right and the one frustrating me is always wrong. In my anger, I cling to my rightness as my rationalization for my wrath. If the conflict involves a matter of faith, then I am even more convinced that my response is appropriate. If my anger is directed towards one who is wrong about God, I may even convince myself that I have God-given anger.
Even Jesus got angry after all. When He saw salesmen turning a profit in the temple, He turned violent and He threw them out. In my anger, I use Jesus’ example of righteous anger as validation for my rage. Jesus may have spoken much more of love, peace and meekness, but when I am frustrated, I want to follow angry Jesus.
Here is the problem. My anger is usually much more about my will being thwarted than it is about actual right and wrong. Even when I am discussing spiritual matters and I am convinced that the other person is clearly in the wrong, my anger is less about God than it is about me. I do not get angry because I am focused on God’s will. I get angry because someone is contradicting me.
My anger is a defect of my flesh nature, like pride, lust, greed and addiction. There may well be a place for righteous anger, I just doubt very much that I am personally capable of wielding anger in a righteous manner. In my fury, I almost always say or think things that are anything but righteous. In my anger, I indulge my flesh nature and I lose self-control.
The fact that I blame this on God and claim that it is righteous makes it even worse. Even Jesus got angry. When I see bad behavior, I just get mad, like Jesus. In my anger, I am nothing like Jesus. In my anger, I am indulging in a defect as surely as if I were using drugs or pornography.
I may convince myself that my anger is dependent on external rights and wrongs, but my anger is dependent on my mood and focus on self. My mood is labile, depending on how much sleep I got last night, how I feel physically or even whether I have eaten a donut or not. To pretend that my anger is from God is to lay my defects at his feet and to blame him for my corrupt behavior.
Yes, even Jesus got angry and yes, there may well be such a thing as righteous anger. Just as there are very few examples of Jesus being violent though, there are probably very few times in life when I can claim that God wants me to be angry. God never asks me to indulge in my defects for him. He asks that I turn from my will and that I follow him.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh life and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful or interesting, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and share it on Facebook.