I've been studying several articles on Anger that were printed for me from my church's archive of biblical counseling journals. Thought I'd share a few things that really struck me...
First, it is suggested that sinful anger is the 'moral sin,' because it deals with injustice, which often makes it particularly difficult to sort through.
The author of a three part series published in '97 and '98, David Powlison, recommended two test questions when I am angry about a situation or at a person for some perceived wrong.
1 - What does God say about it? It is sin? Or is it something that I project my own expectations and judgements on? Pastor Betters' sermon Sunday on Matt 7:1-5 really hit on this. Is it critical judgment or Godly discernment?
One example: Driving to church Sunday, I arrived earlier than usual - about 15 minutes before Sunday School was scheduled to start. As the parking lot attendant directed me to the very, very back row of the parking lot, I thought - Not Fair! I'm here early. Why do I have to park in the back of the lot? Immediately, taking the thought captive, I asked myself - but really.. what does God Word say about this? "The first will be the last?" The parable of the workers in the vineyard, perhaps? Before I could sin in my anger (or critical spirit), I was able to see that our church was in fact displaying the Gospel, even in the midst of the parking lot. Praise the Lord for this! And Praise God for those who arrive at the 11th hour and have a convenient parking spot to come in and worship! Maybe they're not even Christians yet or just started coming to church.
Righteous anger, on the other hand, thinks God's thoughts and deals with real wrongs - child abuse, for example, etc. Most of the time, our anger is selfish and sinful. However, if we are God's children, we will often be confronted with heinouos wrongs that result in anger.
2- How does God's Word say to react to the sinful situation? How can I react to anger in a Godly way? Again, Pastor Betters' sermon Sunday on Matt 7:1-5 - Get the plank out of my own eye first applies again!
In addition, one of the articles by D. Powlison gives another awesome perspective:
Too often I approach the person or situation as if I represent every party in the judicial system -- except the defense attorney!! (of course) I'm the prosecutor, judge, investigation, bailiff, jury, hangman! All at once. But what does God's Word say? Dr. Ryken preached about this in the January edition of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals broadcast - Christ is our advocate.
Jesus, who died for our sins, rose from the grave, ascended to the right hand of God, IS today - right now - all the time - our advocate- our defense attorney, interceding our behalf! He has given us access to the mercy seat, granted us His loving grace and made us heirs with Him in Heaven. WHILE we were still enemies, guilty of all transgression and deserving of eternal damnation, HE made intercession FOR us. Even now He intercedes for this big, huge pharisee (me) who seeks to hold trial against others who have not yet even received the glorious riches of His Amazing Grace.
So, even righteous anger demands a Gospel response: one that is centered on Glorifying God, displaying the Gospel, and resting on His lovingkindess, His patience, His holiness, His character, and His love. Praise God that He is SLOW to anger. Thank you, Jesus, You are the One on whom God's Wrath was pour out for me, for us, so that we might be set free - free to live the Gospel and not the law with one another.
more to come...