Our blog series, “Why Am I So…” explores the subject of our feelings. The salvation that Jesus came to bring us is comprehensive. He is working to save every part of who we are. He not only brings us forgiveness of sins, but he is working to transform/heal/set free each dimension of our personality—there is a psychology to redemption!
Once again, for many different people there are different reasons we feel angry. Nevertheless, there are still common threads in our human experience with anger, so let’s explore a few.
REASON #1 : We experience injustice.
I remember a time when I was in fourth grade playing kickball on the playground at school. As often happened on the sports field, tempers flared between classmates, and one of the boys started hitting one of the girls. He was quite a bit bigger than her, and when I saw that injustice happening, it tripped a trigger in me. I ran over and pulled that boy off of the girl and started fighting him. It is a natural human response to become angry at injustice.
REASON #2: Discontent with our circumstances.
As I said in my post about depression, I have struggled to be content in the circumstances of life. This has led not only to depression, but also bitterness and anger.
REASON #3: Pride and selfishness.
I listed this reason last not because it is least important, but because it is probably the most significant source of human anger. The biggest human struggle is that we put ourselves above God and above other people. The early church leader named James wrote this, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight…” (James 4:1-2.)
SO WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL OF THIS?
First, we recognize that there is such a thing as righteous anger. When God is angry at human rebellion and injustice, it is perfectly righteous, because He is perfectly just and merciful. I can trust God to work for good in His anger. However, because of my brokenness, I need to be very careful with my anger at injustice, because it is mixed with selfish anger. James also writes, “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20.)
Second, I need to be careful about the attitude in which I approach the circumstances of life. There is a prayer called The Serenity Prayer which goes like this: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is a great prayer of faith and humility!
Finally, I need to lay my pride and selfishness down at the foot of the cross. In the light of Jesus’ love, there is no place for selfishness and pride. The greatest virtue is love, but the path to love is humility. Humility is not thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less. The apostle Paul put it so well in Philippians 2:4-11:
Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.