How we respond to the injustice of life and personal insult is extremely important in our witness to the world. It is not wrong to be angry per se; the problem comes, however, in that so often we are only angry when we ourselves are wronged or hurt, rather than angry over the things which make God angry. James reminds us that ‘human anger dosn’t produce the righteousness that God desires.’ (James 1:19-20) We so often become angry when we are hurt or wounded, but there is a selfish element to much of this anger.
The Bible speaks of different kinds of anger: that which is slow, cold, almost a settled habit which has the purpose of revenge (Matt 5:22), often manifested in our desire to ‘get even’ with those with whom we are at loggerheads. Another type of anger is volatile and turbulent, flaring up quickly and singeing all who come near to it. In contrast, we are told to bless those who persecute us (Rom 12:14) and to be careful that we do not let anger tip us into sin. (Eph 4:26) Our reaction to people needs to be laced with courtesy and love, for all are made in God’s image. When we become angry, so often the self is predominant and we dehumanise others.
God reminds us that hatred will be a common response to His love (see John 15:18), but urges us to overcome anger with love. (Rom 13:8-10) We have to be ruthless in investigating the source of our anger, for so often it reveals our hearts. Love is not easily angered (1 Cor 13:8), and to mange anger successfully, we must be filled instead with God’s love (love displaces anger!) When we are angry, we need to stop, pause, and allow God’s love to be in the air!
Anger in itself is not wrong, but we need to be sure we are angry as God is – angry at injustice and a disregard for Him – and that we respond as He does, showing love and mercy even to those who don’t deserve it.