FORGIVENESS IS NOT BEING FREE OF ANGER
While anger may be toxic, it is not always an unholy thing. Yes, it fuels bitterness and acts of revenge but it also moves God’s people to pray, to right wrongs, and to take needed actions.
If you are in pain because an unrighteous act has been committed, and if you are feeling anger, that is not necessarily evidence that you have failed to forgive. We should each be angry over the things God is angry about.
Having grown up in a home where anger was rarely displayed, I grew up to be afraid of it. Thinking it was always a product of sin, I was afraid to feel it and was also afraid of anyone who was escalating from frustration to anger. I had no experience with it. It’s been a process to learn that because God gets angry, it should also be in my emotional repertoire. And, I must admit that I’m comforted by a God like that. I want a Father who is angry over sin and injustice.
We’ve been shown the face of God in Jesus. We’ve been shown the many shades of His character as well as His complex emotional life. More than once, His anger was on full display within the full parameters of righteousness. Jesus overturned tables in the temple because poor Jewish people were being told their sacrifices weren’t good enough. They were then sold a replacement for 10x the going rate. He also called religious abusers vipers because they questioned most everything He said and attempted to nullify His message. He showed us that it’s holy to feel anger over sin. When God’s children are hurt, anger is a part of His response. When I am hurt, anger is a part of His response.
How can I sift righteous and unrighteous anger inside my heart? When offended, I ask myself some questions like these. Am I offended because they hurt me or because their sin offended the heart of God? Is my anger kindled because I am indignant? My pride wounded? My goals thwarted? It’s clearer if the wound has not been personal but something I’ve witnessed happening to others.
I will say, in my experience, that it’s more rare when my anger is holy anger, but it has happened. When others are wronged however, and I have nothing at stake, I have experienced a piece of the fury of God’s heart over the destruction sin causes.
Today we are looking deeply, Father. Never have we needed Your Spirit more. We can’t afford to get this wrong. Help us. Amen