The Angry Christian
Are you an angry Christian at the things you see going on in our society today? In today’s sermon we take a look at the different types of anger and how we should use our anger as Christians.
How can you call yourself a Christian and not be angry at what’s going on in our society? Someone might wonder or ask, “Is it OK for me to ever be an angry Christian?” The reason why they might ask that question is because anger (or being angry) is not an emotion we would typically associate with Christianity. The Christian is always supposed to cool, calm, and collected, right? It is believed that Christians are supposed to always be sweet and joyful people. We should always be smiling and full of cheer.
So, people end up concluding that Christians should never get heated or passionate about anything. What do you believe? Are we not supposed to ever get upset? Should we not ever be moved? Are we, the genuine believers, supposed to simply remain silent or neutral in all things? I want to focus on these ideas and take a look at what Paul says when he says to us, “Be angry, and do not sin.”
The different types of anger
Paul, I want you to understand, is speaking directly to the believer when he quotes the psalm of David (Ps. 4:4) and says, “Be angry, and do not sin.” In Psalm 4:4, David said, “Stand in awe (tremble) and do not sin. Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” You have heard me say it several times that your heart is not the one beating inside of your chest, but the soul that lies within its chambers.
As we saw last Sunday, there are many people who commune with their heart. Some of us, when we commune with our heart we commune with the Lord because the Holy Spirit dwells within the chamber of our soul. On the other hand, there are many who when they commune with their heart they do not commune with the Lord because they have unclean spirits within the chamber of their soul – this means God is not present within the chamber of their soul.
Paul carefully crafts his thoughts on how the Christian should deal with his or her anger or their lack of anger. Paul says, “Be angry and do not sin.” “And” is typically a word that connects clauses, right? It is clear that Paul is saying, “You can be angry,” but at the very same time he is also saying, “But don’t you sin.” The most important part he adds afterwards when he says, “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”
Notice that instead of using the word anger at the end of this scripture, he uses the word wrath. Wrath is what anger can become when one dwells in anger. So, Paul tells us that we can be angry but don’t lay in bed with or go to sleep at night filled with wrath. To dwell in your anger is a terrible and very thing for us as believers because that type of anger leads to different and more dangerous types of anger. Let’s briefly look at a few types of anger.
The anger that is rage
You see, there is anger (which is typically displayed as annoyance, displeasure, or hostility) and then there is rage. Rage: a violent and uncontrolled anger. I believe many of us are familiar with rage because I imagine that at some point in time we have all lost our cool and lashed out. Rage is not something that typically lasts all that long. When we say somebody acts in rage, we typically say that they’ve acted in a “bit” of rage because it usually burns itself out.
When some of us get enraged we can cause harm to others emotionally. Typically those things are done inadvertently or with no intent of causing harm. When this happens, we try to repent and apologize with the hopes of all being forgiven. We would all agree that one should certainly learn to let go of their rage and not let it continue to boil over on the inside. Rage boiling over on the inside can lead to another type of anger.
The anger that is wrath
There is rage but then there is wrath. Wrath: strong vengeful anger or indignation. Rage has now bumped up to vengeance dwelling in the heart. When we think of vengeance, we consider that those who can carry out such an act is typically committed in their actions. (Vengeance can be committed blindly, but it is typically something that is premeditated.) Those that do carry out their vengeance have taken time to dwell in their anger and act in anger. Does vengeance sound like the way of a Christian?
Let us remember what Paul wrote (Rom. 12:19), “avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Vengeance, simply put, has not place in the heart of a genuine believer. When we allow vengeance to dwell in our hearts, it can lead to an even more dangerous type of anger.
The anger that is malice
There is wrath but then there is malice. Malice: the desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another. This type of anger is not blind nor is it temporary. Malice goes beyond the commitment of vengeance (which some people can be talked out of) to a full blown desire. It comes from an unforgiving spirit (heart) that is completely full of bitterness; it is the type of bitterness that no Christian should have inside of them.
If the Christian should not take up vengeance, you better believe the Christian should not approach acting out of malice. It was malice that Peter said we should lay aside along with guile (deceit), hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking (1 Pet. 2:1). There are simply too many people who are filled with such bitterness and malice today.
We see malice every time we turn on the news or go online to see what is in the news. The mass shootings that we have seen in our society comes from the evil place of malice. The bigotry, hatred, divisive and harsh speech towards others comes from a place of malice (bitterness and anger) against somebody or a group of people. This, again, has to be a cause of concern for the believer because we have to be able to discern the type of spirits that are in folks.
We are interacting with other people on a daily basis, so we have to be able to discern whether we are interacting with joyful or malicious spirits. When we interact with a bitter spirit that spirit can act like a virus and corrupt your spirit. You have heard it said, “you can become what you are around.” We don’t want to be around or support people who has such a spirit inside of them. These are the three types of anger that we as believers should stray from and remove from within us.
The anger of a Christian
I feel it’s so important for us to be able to sit down and talk about the subject of anger. Why? Because our world has become so toxic; it has become so filled and polluted with people having wrath and malice in their hearts. We as believers have to know how to deal with our own anger and ensure that our anger does not become full of wrath and malice. We also have to learn how to properly use our anger.
In last Sunday’s sermon, you will recall that I read Isaiah 50:8 to conclude that sermon. The perfect servant said, “He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.” In that conclusion, I said that I could see His strength, and feel both His zeal and His passion. Sadly, that strength, that zeal and passion is missing from today’s Christian. Where has our fire gone?
There, again, is this idea that the believer should simply be sweet at all times, no matter what! I honestly can’t stand the idea of a believer simply being a shoulder shrugger when our society is as it is today. In fact, I will go a bit further than saying “I can’t stand it” to saying that I absolutely hate the idea of a mute Christian. No believer should ever be a shoulder shrugger especially when they are standing in witness of a wrong! We cannot be neutral in the fight for truth and what is right!
The believer should be angered by the lying tongue and lying words! The believer should certainly not stand for those that speak with a tongue of hypocrisy! Those that speak out of fear and hatred should also anger the believer. You see, there are certain things, certain people and conditions that should anger us as believers. When we are angry, the question is: how should we act? What should we do?
The anger of Jesus
Is it OK for Christians to ever get angry? To answer that question, we do not have to look any further than the moments when Christ got angry Himself. Jesus, the one we should be striving to imitate, has always had an image of Him painted as a man that was a quiet and sweet. However, there are several times in scripture where Jesus was moved to anger.
Cleansing the temple
Jesus, on the week He would be crucified, entered into the temple and saw the things that were taking place inside of the temple. All of us are familiar with this story because we have heard it before – the people were selling items in the temple for making sacrifices. In anger, Jesus turned over the tables and shouted that they had made the Lord’s house a den of thieves (Matt. 21:12-13). That was not the only time Jesus had turned over the tables in the temple.
John wrote that Jesus cleansed the temple early on His ministry as well (John 2:13-16). At that occasion, Jesus said, “Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise.” Yes, Jesus was angry at the fact that the temple was supposed to be a place of worship but they were using it for everything else but worship. Even more, the people that wanted to worship could hardly get into the temple to worship because of the cattle and all of the exchanging of money. These things angered Jesus and it moved Him to act, not remain silent!
Jesus angered by the Pharisees
On another occasion, Jesus entered into the synagogue to find a man with a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6). The Pharisees had placed the man there to see if Jesus would “commit a sin” by doing work on the Sabbath. We are told (Mark 3:5) that Jesus, “looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts.”
Jesus was angry at how they were using the man, a man that they should have been caring for. I wonder how Jesus would look on those today that do wrong by those who are in less fortunate situations. Would He look at them with the same anger and be grieved at how they treat those who are less fortunate?
Jesus’ anger towards the hypocrites
Again, we see in scripture where Jesus was moved to anger towards the hypocrites (Matt. 23). The entire chapter of Matthew 23 is Jesus talking of and against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. One of the first things He says is (Matt. 23:3-4), “Do not do according to their works. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” You see, there are many people who will quote scripture and talk about the way others should live, but they do not keep the scriptures nor live in the way they dictate to others. Hypocrisy angers me as both a child of God and a servant of the Lord.
You will notice that in each occasion that Jesus was not angry at the fact of what the Pharisees may have thought about Him or said about Him behind His back. No, Jesus was angered by things that were happening to others around Him (His neighbors). He was angry at how people of better fortune were treating others, especially the less fortunate. You see, I don’t know about you today but such treatment of others should anger you as a Christian. Why? Because we know others should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of who and what they are.
Are you an angry Christian today?
Paul says, “be angry, but do not sin.” Are you angry with what you see happening nowadays? How can you call yourself a Christian and it not anger you to see little boys, girls, and adults living worse than caged animals? How can you call yourself a Christian and defend the inhumanity? We are calling ourselves believers today but shooting after shooting, we play the role of being the silent and sweet Christian. How can these wrongs to our neighbors and the less fortunate not anger you, if you are indeed a genuine believer?
Look at the scripture prior to my key verse to see what Paul says. He says, “Put away lying. Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” You see, this is the tragic truth that continues to evade us, mankind, collectively! We cannot seem to get it through our heads that we are responsible for each other! When you hurt your neighbor you may certainly hurt them, but you are also doing nothing but hurting yourself.
There are many people who are leading this world further and further into a world of wrath and malice. They are spreading fear, lies, and causing harm especially to those who are less fortunate. They move with absolutely no empathy in their hearts because their own heart itself is filled with unclean spirits.
Not anger but compassion
Christians, I tell you that the conditions are being met for which our anger is being called upon. You will notice that in each occasion where Jesus was angered, He did not act with anger but chose to act out of His love with compassion for those in need. Too often, many so-called believers are moved to act in wrath or with malice. If we choose to act in wrath or malice, we would be acting in a way that is not holy!
So, we should take our anger for how those are being wronged and mistreated to move with the compassion and the zeal of Christ on behalf of those who are in need. We cannot stand in support of actions that goes against the love we believe in and have faith in. We must speak out against hatred and fight for what is right for all of those who are mistreated or less fortunate.
Men ought to always pray, Jesus said. It is also clear that we should also always do right by our neighbor. When we see our neighbor down, we should lift them up. When we see somebody doing wrong by our neighbor, we should hold the one doing the wrong accountable. You see, we must hold those accountable who treat others with malicious intent. If we do not do so, they will continue to treat people maliciously.
The time we live in requires our voice and not a shoulder shrugging mute Christian. We have to speak up on the evil that takes place in our society on a daily basis. I’m angry at the things I see and read, I don’t know how you feel. That said, I tell you I will do what I can for those who cannot. If that is through these messages, sharing good and sound doctrine, providing correction when it is needed, and through the power of my prayers, I will do it! We cannot stand by silently any longer.