As a youth pastor I have the chance to deal with teens and adults a lot. Sometimes they can be quite similar in their behavior. It makes me think… a lot.
Recently, an adult was explaining to me about their right to be angry. They proceeded to tell me that Jesus got angry so it was okay for them to do the same.
Do we really have a right to be angry? I asked myself this question many times over the past week.
So, I did what any person might do when looking for an answer, I Googled it.
This may sound funny but many people go straight to the internet for their answers. (That is an entirely different column for a different day.) Apparently many others had asked Google this same question because it came up in the suggestions. Huffington Post had an article about it, so did Psychology Today. There were others. And none of them had the same opinion.
So I then went to a different source — The Bible. I read the story about Jesus getting angry. If this was going to be used as a defense for getting angry, justification would be found here as well.
Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, and John 2:13-22 tell the story of Jesus chasing people out of the temple. These moneychangers, as they are called, are selling animals used for sacrifices at the temple. People would come and buy the lamb they wanted and then sacrifice it. No real thought put into it, no real sacrifice, just convenience.
Jesus was angry because sacrifice had become routine.
The Jews hearts were not in it. They were following the Law out of habit. The love was lost. It had become daily business.
Jesus was angry because his people had lost relationship with him.
Jesus saw us hurting ourselves and losing touch with him, that is why he was angry. Jesus’ anger was righteous.
Our anger is selfish. We get angry because so and so did this or that and it hurt my feelings. We get angry because our feelings are hurt or things didn’t go the way we wanted them to. We get upset when someone cuts us off in traffic or when someone else gets promoted over us.
Our anger is directed at individuals. We hold on to our anger. It becomes one of our characteristics. It becomes what makes us who we are.
Jesus’ anger was directed at our hearts. Our hearts tell us who we really are. Jesus knew the hearts of those around him when he got angry at the temple.
Psalms 4:4 says, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah”. This shows me it’s okay to be angry. It’s one of our emotions. God gets angry and we are made in his image. What we do with our anger is what we need to look at.
In Psalms, we are told not to sin when we are angry. It is okay to be angry; we just have to be careful with what we get angry about. If we become angry about being cut off on the highway and then make an angry hand gesture at another driver, we are not justified in our anger. If we get angry when we learn that there are 153 million orphans in the world and decide to go on a missionary trip to Ethiopia, we might be justified in our anger.
We need to change our attitude about anger. As Christians we need to be angry. We should be angry that there are homeless, orphaned, hungry, hurting, lonely people in the world and in our community that don’t feel loved. We should be connecting with these people and showing them the love of Christ.
I personally believe that if you become angry and do nothing, that is a sin. But we have to watch what we do with our anger. G.K. Chesterton once said, “A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.” Let’s take our anger and put it to use.
Last time we talked about service. Let’s take our willingness to serve, mix it with our righteous anger and put it to good use in our community and in the world.
Let’s show the world the same anger Christ showed the moneychangers. Let’s show people the same love that Christ showed us.
Andy Butts was born and raised in Newton County. He is the youth pastor at Journey Church in Oxford, GA. He loves God, his wife, his children, food, Ethiopia, and Star Wars.