Our daughter Kate, who works for the United States Senate, sent us a video she took of protests in the Hart Office Building against the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. Those in favor are also protesting. America today is filled with angry people, and it’s not just about the nomination. You hear anger in your conversations, experience it at work, and yes, also among church-goers.
In “The Myth of Righteous Anger” at concordiatheology.org, Dr. Jeffrey Gibbs guides us into self-reflection. In the Old Testament and New, anger is most often assigned to God. God is pure and His anger is against sin that rebels against Him, and any sin is essentially rebellion against our Creator. God’s anger is righteous, but what about our anger? “Anger belongs to God, not to us humans—and especially not to the disciples of Jesus. Anger is dangerous, and quickly leads to sin…. The connection between being/becoming angry on the one hand and actually sinning on the other hand is so close that most of the time, Jesus and the apostles simply equate anger with sin” (12). Dr. Gibbs concludes, “There is no such thing as a genuine, clear, biblical definition of or justification for ‘righteous anger’ – unless the anger is the Father’s or the Son’s wrath” (15).
Hence the Bible’s command, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). Anger is, on one hand, a natural emotion, but on the other, original sin has corrupted even our natural emotions (Romans 7:18-22). So when anger wells up, even at something that is manifestly evil, be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). “The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry and why has your face fallen? …Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:5-6).
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). Anger, notes Dr. Gibbs, “is not a fruit of the Spirit” (16).