Anger a virtue???

Be angry and sin not. 

Ephesians 4:26  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

Reading from The Virtue in the Vice by Dr. Robin R. Meyers, led to some reflection and responses from within me and it is not totally unrelated to the recent events in our nation politically and socially.  I found it interesting to talk about anger as being constructive, even biblical which goes against much of what I’ve heard lately from pulpits around the nation.  The following excerpt started me thinking: 

Without the right rage we can have little hope for real change in the world.  The call of discipleship is a call to do, not a call to contemplate.  There would have been no end to slavery without war, no civil rights movement without Bloody Sunday, and no progress toward inclusiveness in the church without bitter struggle and charged rhetoric.  Even now, little hope exists for saving the environment until angry people realize that we all live downstream and we start marching upstream en masse.

There are times when the right anger brings about action that corrects a wrong.  What action can be taken to right the wrongs being done to the unborn in our country?  What action can be taken to right the wrongs being taught to our children in the public system because it is politically correct? Those are only two arenas to consider action. Even as we find in James to be doers of the Word, not just hearers so in Micah we are given a call to action:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 

Faith is a verb, an action verb.  Doing justice is connected to hating injustice, loving kindness is connected to despising cruelty, walking humbly with God requires us to stand up and walk.  Two angers, one self-serving; one that rants against injustice, cruelty and false pride. 

How do we determine the difference?  Ask yourself, am I angry for someone else?  Do I feel as if I have been insulted, am I taking offense?  Is the anger self-serving and connected to pride?  Conversely, am I angry over what is done to those who cannot help themselves, or over the perpetuation of a lie to the young?  Is the anger sparked by injustice or cruelty?  Be angry and sin not.

2 thoughts on “Anger a virtue???

  1. I agree that anger can be an excellent motivator. My problem lies in what one is motivated to do. Too often I see it lead to rebellion and there I see a real problem. Rebellion is often a by-product of anger, though I agree they are not necessarily yoked. However, I Samuel 15:23 tells us that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, which is a very sobering concept, and is something I want no part of.

    I mention this because I disagree with Dr. Meyer’s examples. I see them as rebellion. Anger out of control. And I cannot see this as a good thing. And theologically, I disagree with his reference to environmentalism, so here, as well, I would have to say that anger directed at correcting a perceived fault is misplaced. It is wrong to inflict a personal conviction on others on a universal scale.

    I do see in scripture a definitely positive expression when Jesus overturned the temple, for the moneychangers had made a mockery of God’s house. I caution, however, that the fine line into rebellion is not justified for “righteousness’ sake.” I have seen much harm done and legislated in the name of “righteous indignation.” And I argue whether it has God’s blessing.

    Maybe it is only because I was raised in the South, but I do sincerely believe that, with the invention of the cotton gin, coupled with an ever-growing awareness among people, slavery was actually on its way out. Obviously, we will never know. But think of the bloodshed that was done in the name of good. And having lived in a South that emerged from the war, I can only tell you it was not a good thing. Had it simply died a natural death, I would like to think the South would be different today.

    The same is true of Bloody Sunday. I remember as a 10-year-old being very socially aware of the wrong with segregation, as were most of my peers. Again, I believe our generation would have ended it in a more natural and healthy way than has transpired. In fact, the beginnings of it (the end) had already begun. I cannot live in the South today and see the sad lives of much of the black population – lives that have been negatively affected in tremendous ways by affirmative action and other direct laws dealing with equality – without grieving for what they lost. Again, I believe sincerely that within another generation segregation would have ended, as one by one, businesses and schools followed others who moved away from it. Everyone was a loser with bussing. Everyone. And there are many intelligent blacks who agree with this belief.

    I lived in Kansas a little over a year. I saw literally no blacks unless I went into a large hub, such as Topeka. When one is so removed from the reality of living within a given situation, it is easy to have theories, such as Dr. Meyers. But I do not think his examples are good ones for the point he is trying to make. I agree that anger can be used for good; but one must be very careful not to turn it into an occasion for the flesh – and great harm.

  2. Charlotte, thank you for your response. You say, “Rebellion is often a by-product of anger,” based on what? I Samuel 15:23 is dealing with an issue of pride.

    Anger is looked at from two different perspectives here, opposites actually. I stated: “How do we determine the difference? Ask yourself; am I angry for someone else? Do I feel as if I have been insulted, am I taking offense? Is the anger self-serving and connected to pride?” If the anger is connected to me and my story, if it is self-serving then the root of the anger is evil. If, however, the anger stems from the wrongs done to the innocent it should stir us to action to right the wrongs. The Bible is full of exhortation to defend the innocent and weak, those wronged and powerless to help themselves.
    Proverbs 6:17 is one example; There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

    One final question for you, what part of the wrath of God is not anger?

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