Monday, September 26, 2016
The One Time It's Ok To Be Angry
How does your anger come out? Do you throw things? Scream into a pillow? Run away and hide? Clam up and glare? All of the above to varying degrees?
There are many, many verses of Scripture that talk about anger and how to avoid it for the sake of your testimony. Anger eats away at your joy and forces you to obey emotion instead of truth. It's a nasty little feeling that can quickly and easily grow into a destructive monster.
But rest assured, you are not alone. Each one of us battles anger off and on throughout our daily lives. It's how you handle it - and what you allow to trigger it - that makes all the difference.
Take Moses for example. We are introduced to him before he becomes a murderer, killing in anger over the poor treatment of his people. He retreats to desert and gets his emotions under control for the next 40+ years. God then calls him to a high-profile lifestyle that requires him to interact with anger-inducing people on a regular basis. But still, time after time, Moses fell on his face before the Lord and begged Him to spare the people. They sinned, and Moses interceded. They murmured, and Moses prayed. He didn't turn his back and he didn't walk away in anger.
Then came Exodus 32 and the golden calf. Moses' anger finally came to the forefront and it was completely and totally justified.
Moses, the meekest man on earth, had steam coming out of his ears. He came down from the mountain where he had just spent time in the presence of God to find the people of Israel wrapped up in golden idols and naked dancing. The icing on the cake, though, was his own brother's story of how this calf just suddenly appeared out of the fire that the people made him make. Yeah, right.
You know the story from here - Moses hurled the tablets to the ground, and they shattered. Then he separated the Levites from those who refused to be on God's side, and there was a slaughter. He wasn't acting in anger because the Israelites had sinned against him, but because they had the nerve to sin against God, again. Their choice to do wickedness in the face of the Lord stirred up a righteous anger in him.
This is the only time that anger is justified. It was understandable that Moses was boiling over because he would not stand idle while Israel flagrantly disrespected God. Getting mad because the people pulled him down off the mountain with their rebellion would not have been the right kind of anger. Remember it's not about us, it's all about God.
And in the end, Moses did go before God and asked forgiveness for the people. Was he still angry? Probably. But it wasn't because of the inconvenience of it all or the time wasted talking about sin when he wanted to be talking about tablets and tabernacles. That anger was put aside, though, as he petitioned the Lord to be the definition for forgiving once again.
Things will happen this week that will make you angry, I'm sure, and I don't have to have premonitions of the future to tell you that. The way to get through those moments, though, is to give them a little test: are you angry because you've been hurt or are you angry because of sin against God. That's the litmus test. If it's personal anger, confess it immediately and move on. If it's anger over the wickedness and sin in the world, you can still take it to God in prayer.