July 14, 2012

Two Kinds of Anger

Post for July 13, 2012
(Late because we moved and our ISP had a fire!)

The neighbor who received a blast from me for her thoughtlessness came over yesterday while I was gone… and apologized for her thoughtlessness… to my husband… while he was helping the movers load furniture. That is more than was expected, but sufficient.

In case I’m still wondering about my anger, God gave me these thoughts from His interaction with Jonah, the reluctant prophet. God told him to go to Nineveh and rebuke the people for their sin, telling them to repent. 

Jonah didn’t want to, so headed in the other direction. He wound up as fish food, but the fish barfed him up. After that, he decided to obey, but sulked about it afterwards. He also sulked about the heat so God set up a plant for shade. Then He sent a worm to devour the plant. This was a test.
But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” (Jonah 4:9)
Jonah was more concerned about the plant than he was about the souls of those who lived in Nineveh under the wrath of God. His anger about the plant was selfish. God rebuked him for it and said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10-11)

Spurgeon writes that human anger is not always sinful; after all, God can be angry and not sin and we are made in His image. But because of our sin nature and the fact that our anger so easily runs wild, we should be quick to question its character with the same inquiry, “Do you do well to be angry?”

We do well when we are angry with sin; it flies in the face of our gracious God. I should be angry with myself when I continue to act foolishly after so much grace and forgiveness from God. I also can be angry with others, but only when the sole cause of my anger is their sin. As Spurgeon says, if I am not angry at sin, I become a partaker in it. Sin is a loathsome thing and a renewed heart should not endure it. The Bible says that God is angry with the wicked every day, and “O you who love the Lord, hate evil!" (Psalm 97:10)

However, lest I get too smug with my “righteous indignation,” Spurgeon also says anger is more often not commendable or justifiable. For instance, can I justify being angry with children, or co-workers or even my friends? This does not honor God or my profession of faith.

I need to watch out that my sinful nature is not trying to gain the upper hand and resist that in the power of my new nature. The goal is to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, not give into a bad temper as though I’ve no power to attempt resistance. Instead, I’m to be a conqueror. If I cannot control my temper, what has grace done for me?

Lord, I’m usually aware of the battle between flesh and Spirit. As Watchman Nee said, this is like two dogs fighting inside me — the winner is the one that I feed the most. Today, may I feed on Your Word, offer you praises, and get a good grasp on the difference between these two kinds of anger.

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