Anger. There is a lot of it out there. Last week Standard and Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating largely due to the boiling anger within congress and the inability of elected representatives to work together. In the final analysis, congressmen were angry, the president was angry and now the American people are angry.
Anger doesn’t require such significant issues to raise its ugly head. Last weekend several Tampa Bay baseball fans got into an angry fight over a foul ball that landed in a garbage can. After tempers flared, the security guard stepped in and ruled that the ball would remain where it landed, beneath a pile of peanut shells, beer, hot dog wrappers and whatever else had been deposited in the can. If we can’t get along with one another, nobody wins.
We are all acquainted with anger. We have felt the rising resentment and boiling emotions that overwhelm rational thought and take control of our words and our actions leading us to say things and do things that we later regret. We call it losing our temper. It is built into us. We are born with it. Anyone who cares for a newborn soon discovers that babies have a temper. For most of us, age helps. We call it “mellowing.” Things that once pushed our button and shoved us over the edge are not as frustrating as before. We become more patient, we gain greater perspective.
It is okay to become angry. When anger causes us to take action that will result in improved environment and behavior, it is good. Jesus became angry. He did not casually cleanse the temple. He drove out all those who were using religion for profit, overturning their tables, scattering their money on the stones and driving the bleating sheep, braying oxen and fluttering pigeons before him with a whip. Later, when the religious authorities wanted to prevent him from healing the sick on the Sabbath, the Bible says he looked at them “with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart.”
But, it is not okay to lose our temper. Uncontrolled anger can be disastrously destructive. It is not okay to live an angry life as an angry person. Angry people alienate others, and, when their anger spins out of control, they inflict damage and injury to themselves and others. When anger cuts off conversation and communication that can lead to understanding and solutions to shared problems, it is a bad thing. When anger spills over into rage that lashes out at others to hurt and to harm, it is a bad thing.
Anger is one of those human emotions we all possess that must be channeled and controlled to produce constructive results. Left unchecked and allowed to run wild, it can destroy us. The Bible instructs us to “Be angry and yet do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”(Eph. 4:26). The Bible also says, “The anger of man does not fulfill the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20).