June 18 – Colorblind

June 18 – Colorblind

Proverbs 15:18

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” (Proverbs 15:18)

We read Jesus’ warning about anger: “Everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (Matt. 5:22). Jesus spoke these words in the context of teaching about murder. He was peeling back the layer of the “onion,” beyond physical murder to an emotion so out of control that it can be linked to the act of murder itself.

Is It OK to get angry? Anger isn’t always wrong. God gets angry. God isn’t angry just over sin; He’s also angry with wicked people. His wrath is seen throughout the Old and New Testaments, the inevitable result of the collision between a holy God and unholy humans’ attitudes and actions. While on earth, Jesus was angry on more than one occasion (see Mark 3:5; 11:17).

Is it possible for a sinful mortal to be Godlike in his anger? It must not be easy, for the Bible is filled with warnings about anger. [40]

In addition, the Book of Proverbs is full of flashing red lights about anger. For example: “A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.” (Proverbs 15:18) and “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check” (Proverbs 29:11).

I’m sort of color-blind when it comes to anger. I find it difficult to distinguish between the green light and the red light. But it must be possible, for the Bible instructs us in our anger to refrain from sinning (see Psalm 4:4; Ephesians 4:26). Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, was successful in making the distinction. He refrained from getting angry when he seemed to have every right to. “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he was suffering, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the One who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

Jesus’ example seems to point the way. What ignites the wrath? Is it an offense against me? Then follow Jesus and be like a lamb before its shearers — silent (see Isaiah 53:7). Is it an offense against God or someone else? Then anger can be a good thing in expressing God’s justice on earth (see 2 Corinthians 7:11).

The difficulty is that our motives are mixed. Am I distressed over a sin that offends God and harms people, or am I angry over the way I am affected? Because motives are impure, the safe thing may be to eschew anger altogether when the sin of another person directly affects me, as when my child does wrong but the wrong embarrasses me. Wait until the anger subsides to make sure the resulting action doesn’t come from a mixture of righteous and unrighteous indignation.

To keep anger from igniting for the wrong reason or from burning out of control, Scripture gives two ways to douse the flames: Cool the anger. Don’t get angry suddenly. James wrote, “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (Jas. 1:19). Don’t let the anger keep burning. Don’t let it last until the next day. Paul advised, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26).

Both a low flash point — a quick response without reflection — and a slow burn seem to risk causing even righteous indignation to go astray. Practice discriminating between righteous and unrighteous indignation – don’t be colorblind.

[40] Start with Romans 12:19, Galatians 5:19-20, Ephesians 4:31, James 1:20

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