“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” ~ James 1:19-20 (NIV)
I was the victim of road rage a few days ago. While driving home from work, I made a lane change, and apparently had less room than I thought. The person in the car that I had pulled in front of felt compelled to lay on the horn. Traffic had come to a halt because of a red light and this man laid on the horn for a good 30 seconds of more, while sitting behind me at the red light. Point taken, sir.
I continued with my travels, with this same car behind me. The first opportunity he had to come along side of my car, he did. It was at another red light. The weather was beautiful so the windows in both my vehicle and his were open. This man proceeded to scream obscenities at me that are not appropriate for a Christian blog, nor are they even worth my time repeating. Again, point taken, sir.
The light turned green, he turned and I continued on my journey home. The whole thing was very unnerving to say the least. My first thought was to thank Jesus for keeping me safe. I have seen too many news stories over the years of road rage ending with gunfire. I was grateful that God kept me safe.
My second thought was, “When did everyone become so angry?!” God created us with many different emotions, and anger is one of the most powerful, but I believe He created anger, like all things, for His glory.
When Jesus overturned the tables in the temple (John 2:13-17 NIV) He was angry because His Father’s House was being treated like a shopping mall operated by less than honest vendors. Those selling animals for sacrifice and the money-changers were taking advantage of the Jewish people who had traveled to the temple for Passover. They had come to worship God and were being mistreated, and in God’s temple no less. So, yes, Jesus was angry and rightfully so.
But you see, there is a big difference between uncontrolled rage and righteous indignation.
Anger when expressed for righteous reasons benefits God’s Kingdom and His people. God expects that we be angry about injustice and sin. Human trafficking, child abuse, and other awful things in the world are all things that should make us angry. In fact, we should be so angered by these things that our anger compels us to act and offer help.
If anyone was justified in being angry, it was Jesus as He was being spat on, ridiculed and tortured for a crime He didn’t commit. In the midst of it all, He uttered, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)
We are given a multitude of chances every day to practice self-control when it comes to our anger. The next time the person in front of you in the express lane has 11 items in their cart and the limit is 10 (let’s be honest…we’ve all counted) or… a telemarketer calls you during dinner or… someone cuts you off in traffic…take a deep breath and choose to save your anger for the real injustices in the world.