A man and his wife were having a conversation. She called it working out a problem by talking with him and reminding him about it. He called it an attack on his character. They were discussing his “forgetfulness”, or at least the apparent notion of it. He thought that her reminding him about his tendency to forget to do particular tasks labeled him a lazy person. She didn’t think so, and was just trying to be a helpful person. He misinterpreted her true intention of the reminder, and got angry. Seeing him get angry, she fed off his negative energy and became angry herself. She raised her voice; he saw her get flustered, and got more angry; etc. Finally it ended when one of them left the house.
How often do we get angry? How often do we get angry for the wrong reasons? How often do we get angry for no reason at all? How true it is that when we get angry, we almost always get angry because we read the situation wrong. In the story above, it was the man’s misinterpretation of his wife’s true intention that caused the problem. She was only trying to be a helpful person with her reminders. The root problem is pride. HE thought that HE knew what she intended. HE assumed that HIS version was the right one. HE was the one who got angry. HE was the one who got her angry. All because HE thought that HE knew what was right. That is pride in a nutshell.
There are multiple instances in the Bible where someone of importance, or even the nation of Israel, “provoked the anger of the Lord.” This however is different. They brought about the anger of the Lord for their transgressions against the Lord. And since God knows everything, and especially knows the heart, it provoked Him to anger.
There are different types of anger. There is the emotional type of anger that we are so familiar with on a daily basis because of our weak and sinful nature. It is the anger spoken of in Ephesians 4:31, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” It is the anger found in Colossians 3:8, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” And then we have the anger expressed in Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” How do we reconcile the apparent difference in these two passages? The difference is that in Ephesians 4:26 the anger expressed is holy anger. In John 2:14-16 we read a good expression of holy anger by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, “And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”
This article is not about the question of whether we can express holy anger, but rather to remind us to refrain from unrighteous anger. We must avoid the unrighteous anger that culminates in revenge such as that found in Romans 12:19: “dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” We ourselves are saved from being the objects of God’s wrath. We are saved so that we no longer conduct ourselves as the sinners described in Ephesians 2:3: “among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Let us live our lives as anger free as possible, living in thankfulness to the salvation freely given to us!