Paul’s Oddest Command | “Be Angry”
JD Greear usually blows my mind every time that he opens the word of God. I learn so much from his teach and preaching, and on top of that God uses him to stir my heart towards the advancement of the Gospel in my community and all over the world. I say this to emphasize how brilliant of a teacher he is. This past Saturday however he did not just blow my mind, he completely shattered my perspective on not only a passage of Scripture, but on an idea as a whole. (In a good way)
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger
This verse is often used to emphasize the importance and the mandate to seek out forgiveness from a brother or sister that you may have wronged, or apologizing to a brother or sister if you have wronged them. This is an important part of the passage yet we quickly read over the imperative command(Greek grammar junk) that Paul gives us in the first two words. Be Angry, have you noticed this before? Paul is not saying “Don’t get angry” or “try not to be angry” but he is commanding people to… Be angry.
I’ve known that anger is not a sin, mainly because of the passage in Matthew where Jesus drives out the merchants from the temple. (we will dive into this later) However, I still had it in the back of my head “Anger is not a sin, but I shouldn’t get angry because it leads to sin.” This mindset is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. The Bible clearly tells us to be angry, and so now we must ask a few questions…
Why does Paul tell us to Be Angry
1. Anger is a healthy sign of love
JD Greear gave a few examples, I will highlight a few of them.
If a loved one is fighting cancer, then out of love for the person, fighting cancer you “hate” cancer, cancer is one of the most devastating diseases that plagues humanity today. We should yes “hate” sin and its effects that it has on this world, and cancer is one of those things. Let me emphasize that the anger is strictly a product of your love for a person.
If your kids are being bullied at school, out of a healthy love for your kids you would be angry that they are getting bullied.
The examples could go on and on, but anger is a healthy sign of love towards people. JD Greear also emphasized that, if you do not experience anger when “bad” things happen to people around you, OR if you allow your anger to result in sin, then you are not properly loving those around you.
2. Jesus was…
In scripture we are called to imitate Jesus, in Romans it talks about how we are being conformed to the image of Christ, and Jesus was and today does get angry, think about how God reacts to sin, he gets angry. When someone dies, or is hurt, he gets angry. In fact if it were not for God’s anger towards sin, He would have never sent Jesus to die for us… God’s anger resulted in the most loving and gracious thing to ever happen.
Our anger should too move us towards love and grace.
This concept seems impossible, how do I be angry and flee from sin at the same time? This concept is easier said than practiced, but it is possible, but only as a result of a heart that has been transformed by the power of the Gospel.
1. Sinless anger is short lived
This is evident from the examples we see in the Bible. Take a look;
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[e] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[f]”
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,”they were indignant.
Jesus gets angry and drives out the people in his temple with a whip, (yes a whip) and right after, people are coming up to him getting healed. This shows us that his anger was short lived, because people were not avoiding him…
Students, how many times have you had an upset teacher and you tell your friend “Behave, she is in one of her moods.” This happens daily between employees and bosses, students and teachers, and if Jesus had been angry, the hurt and poor would have wanted to avoid him. Yet the lowest of the low felt welcomed in his presence. Jesus’ anger was short lived and ours should be as well.
Jesus’ anger was pointed at the sin, not the sinner
The most cliche line in the book, and those reformers are going to freak out at this… but its true Jesus hates the sin and loves the sinner. A lot of people in the reformed camp (That I am in) say “Jesus hates the sin and hates the sinner” What a pathetic attempt to be reformed. Seriously saying that is plane stupid… almost as bad as saying God’s love is reckless. (maybe if God did hate the sinner his love would be reckless) Jesus loves even the sinners… and his anger was directed not at the people selling the sacrificial animals, but at the fact his holy temple was being defaced.
This concept is by far the most difficult to put into practice. Lets go back to the example of your children getting bullied.
Is your anger coming from a deep love for your children and a desire for their safety? Or are you angry at the kid bullying your children? In fact your anger should stir you to LOVE the kid bullying your children. If your teen comes home later than he said, are you mad at the teen because he caused you less sleep, or are you angry at the fact that he could have been hurt, or taken.
If your anger roots back to the dislike of another person, or a preservation of your own convenience then it is rooted in hate and has eld you into the abyss that is sin.
I was changed by this sermon, do not reject anger, but use it as a gift to stir you to love others better, and to ultimately glorify God in everything that you do.