December 12, 2000
I read somewhere if a person yells for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, they would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. That doesn’t appeal to me — I don’t drink coffee!
Not only that, I don’t have the energy to stay with it that long. My voice projects about two feet at the best of times. For me, yelling is not a productive activity.
Yelling is mothers calling their children, fans cheering at a game, or turkey farmers trying to talk above the gobbling, but it is most often associated with anger. Angry people produce adrenalin that must be burned. Otherwise, it works on our body the same way revving a motor works on a car propped up on blocks. Shouting, fighting, and running away all burn adrenalin. My mother used to say, “I am so angry I could spit” but she wasn’t the spitting type so found other ways to burn off her adrenalin.
The Bible has a great deal to say about anger. Since God can be angry, this is not necessarily a sinful emotion. One verse hints at this by saying, “Be angry and sin not; do no let the sun go down on your anger.”
God can be outraged at sin and still be righteous and holy, but our anger is often expressions of pettiness and selfishness. If we explode and hurt others, our anger is negative and destructive. Bible warns us that “the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.”
Sometimes we justify our anger as ‘righteous indignation’ but even that may not be as righteous as we suppose. When Moses was leading the people of God to the promised land, they continually griped and complained against him and against God. At one point they needed water so God told Moses to “strike a rock once” and the water would be there. Moses was so frustrated and angry with the people that he hit the rock a couple of times.
For Moses, this was sin. In disobeying God, he defaced more than a rock because God intended his action to symbolize the Lord Jesus Christ who is the ‘rock’ of our salvation. When Jesus was struck (once for all sin) literal water flowed from His side, as did living water to wash away the sin of the world. Moses’ angry blows to the rock marred the symbol. Even though this seemed like righteous anger against sin, God punished Moses’ ‘righteous’ outburst by refusing to allow him to enter the promised land.
So what do we do with anger? Clearly, we need to obey God in spite of our feelings. Anger makes obedience more difficult but God does not allow us to use it as an excuse to sin.
Second, if we disobey God in our anger, we need to make it right immediately. Harboring anger leads to bitterness — and ulcers. Instead, we admit to God we are angry. We tell Him what upsets us and place it in His hands. He cares. He may help us with action we could not take, or even imagine.
Third, our anger might be directed toward someone who hurt us. We need to forgive them, remembering how God has forgiven us. At the same time, if our anger reveals other sinful attitudes, we must confess them to God also.
Fourth, if we have taken angry swipes at others, we need to be truly sorry and apologize to them — admitting we were wrong and asking their forgiveness — before the sun goes down.
Dealing with anger produces peace in our hearts, peace in our relationships, and peace with God. Besides, there are quicker ways to warm up a cup of coffee!