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Is It Okay to be Angry?

All of us have been angry.  Anger is a universal emotion.  But is anger a sin?  Or is anger an aspect to imaging God?

This past week Nikki and I had the joy of listening to Gary Chapman a couple of times a day.  He is a very knowledgable and engaging speaker, and he challenged us on several points.  However, I thought one of his greatest challenges came in his discussion about anger.  He firmly believes that the emotion of anger is an aspect to imaging God.

Before I summarize his thoughts, let me say that his discussion of anger reminded me a lot of Chris Brauns‘ discussion on forgiveness.  Chris believes that a lot of Christians have an unbiblical view of forgiveness, which is often  “forgive and forget” (by the way, in Chapman’s discussion of forgiveness he sounded EXACTLY like Chris.  Unfortunately, he didn’t mention Chris’s book…).

Similarly, Chapman believes that a lot of Christians have an unbiblical view of anger. Here is Chapman’s summary of anger.  I’m interested to know what you think.

The Source of Anger

1.  Anger is rooted in the nature of God.  God is holy and God is love, because of this, God has anger (the Bible never says God IS anger, but God has anger).  It is a part of the nature of God to be angry each and every day with the injustice and wickedness in His creation.

2.  We are made in the image of God, so we have a God-given concern for justice, and righteousness.

3.  We get angry when our sense of “right” is violated, just as God does when His sense of “right” is violated.

The Purpose of Anger

The primary purpose of our God-imaging anger is to motivate us to take corrective and constructive action.  Consider:

1.  God is our model.  His anger punishes evil and corrects wrongs.  This is seen in the pronouncement of his anger and coming judgment to Israel.  God’s anger is prompted by sin but He uses it to bring people to repentance or punish the evil-doers (both of which “correct” the wrong).

2.  Every great social reform has been motivated by a righteous anger.  Consider the civil rights movement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, even the Reformation.

Two Types of Human Anger:

1.  Definitive Anger.  This is when we become angry when a genuine “wrong” has been committed.  This is God’s only form of anger.

2.  Distorted Anger.  This is when no wrong has been committed but we get angry anyway (always due to our sin, usually due to selfishness).  Cain, Jonah, and our young children offer major examples of distorted anger.  God does not possess distorted anger.

How Should We Process Anger?

1.  Admit your anger.  The feeling of anger is not sinful, it can be a motivating feeling.  But, as Chapman says, anger is designed by God to be a visitor in our lives, but not a resident.

2.  Restrain your immediate response.

3.  Locate the focus of your anger.  Is your anger definitive (the result of a genuine wrong) or distorted?

4.  Analyze your options for what you can do in this situation.

5.  Take constructive action.

This is only a brief summary, but I think the greatest challenge is to consider the idea that some anger is biblical and right.  We image God when we are angered by sin in the world around us.  Furthermore, we image God when this anger motivates us to make these wrongs right.

Challenging thoughts.  But is he right?

Categories: Brian's Blogs
  1. August 4, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Sounds like around our house when we disagree on any thing.
    Be it one of the kids or a spouse but I was taught to think slow and be quick to forget.

  2. mikewittmer
    August 4, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    This seems right. I would go as far to say that in our fallen world, he who is never angry has never loved. I.e., because I love my wife and children I will be angry at whatever threatens them.

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