Danger | Anger has a dangerous power. Not only can it harm the body and ruin relationships, it can also threaten wisdom because it distorts reality. As Solomon wrote, “A man of quick temper acts foolishly … Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” . Yet notice that Solomon didn’t condemn anger itself; he condemned hot tempered and quick anger.
Goodness | Slow anger – not no anger – is God’s ideal because it reflects His character. As the Lord proclaimed about Himself, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” . In fact, Tim Keller has said, “It is a sin never to get angry” , and John Christenson said, “He who is angry without cause sins. But he who is not angry when there is cause sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices” . Anger is an essential part of a loving God because anger is an outgrowth – not an opposite – of love. As Becky Pippert wrote, “Think about how we feel when we see someone we love ravaged by unwise actions or relationships. Do we respond with benign tolerance as we might toward strangers? Far from it … Anger is not the opposite of love. Hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference. God’s wrath is not a cranky explosion, but His settled opposition to the cancer which is eating out the insides of the human race He loves with His whole being” .
Order | Our problem, therefore, is not that we get angry; our problem is that we get angry at the wrong things. Our anger is disordered because our loves are disordered. How often do we ask ourselves, “Why am I angry in this situation? Because my own ego has been wounded? Or because the name of my Lord and Savior has been disregarded and His people have been the victims of injustice?”
Prayer | Lord, Let us be like you – slow to anger and abounding in love. For this is true wisdom that has rightly-ordered loves. Give us hearts that echo the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” , so that your glorious name and your beloved people are the treasures of our hearts. Then, our slow anger will rise up only when the precious things that you love are dishonored. Amen.