Both God and the devil are always angry. On whose side is my anger?
In other words, do I get angry about the right things? Or is my anger based on my own set of expectations and my own laws? Anger always reflects our true moral standards, our definitions of good and evil - right and wrong. Anger is not a neutral emotion. It is either godly or sinful -- and based on James 1:20 "man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."
I can't help but think of Jonah Ch. 4. Jonah perceived something as wrong, which was good. When he saw that God had saved and spared Nineveh, he took it upon himself to actually judge God. He saw God's forgiveness and mercy toward Nineveh as unfair and unjust. Yet, Jonah himself - the ambassador and steward of God's word - who also had just been the recipient of God's mercy, had so quickly forgotten how much more he deserved God's wrath. As soon as Nineveh received the warning of the coming judgment, they repented and believed. Jonah (just like most of us, I'm sure) required appointed tempests, fish, and scrubs to remotely trust God. How much more am I like Jonah? And how much more deserving of His wrath, surely.
As God's people though, isn't it amazing and wonderful how much His anger is FOR us? The Holy Spirit, representing anger as a burning fire that convicts us and makes us new, in God's image. With His anger working FOR us, we cooperate and obey Him. His anger, all for His glory - and our joy! God's wrath becomes our hope. What a mystery! Ultimately, writes Powlison, "we can't understand His love, if we don't understand His wrath."
More notes -- sinful or righteous anger?
"A man of great anger shall bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again." -- Prov. 19:19.
By nature, asserts Powlison, "we are all 'warmakers.'" But God's Word says, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."
There is an interpersonal nature to all of this. In other words, he says, how we treat others directly equates to how we are treating God.
What sinful anger looks like: a tantrum, resentment, bitterness, hatred. We use anger to get what we want and our 'wants' or desires begin to rule us. Anger has been learned and needs to be unlearned. "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man or associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared." Prov. 22:24-25.
Alternatives to sinful anger:
- James 1:19 "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."
Finally, to consider - (memorize!)
Titus 3:3 "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying."