REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of April 11, 2021
Deal Daily with Anger: Eph. 4:26; 1 Cor. 13:5
We are in Week 10 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. In this age of seemingly ever-increasing anger and frustration, we need the reminder of the ancient path that is found in Rules 4.22-23: Deal daily with anger.
Anger in and of itself is not a sin. It is an emotional response to something that displeases us. The Bible tells us that even God can be angry (Psalm 2). So, the issue with anger is not necessarily the emotional response itself but rather what it is that displeases us. For example, it is right for God to be angry with sin and all of its destructive consequences. When we consider God’s actions as Creator, how he looked at all that he had made and declared it “good”, we can begin to understand his anger at how our rebellion has so polluted his good creation. When we further consider all the disease, pain, and death that our sin has caused, we understand the righteousness of God’s displeasure. As God sees everything clearly and understands everything completely, his anger is always righteous. We, however, have had our emotions tainted by sin. We rarely take the time to see clearly or understand completely the thing that displeases us. While our anger is sometimes righteous (as in the case of injustice or infidelity), it is more often than not misplaced, misguided, and misdirected. Many times our anger is rooted in our selfishness, pride, or false expectations, and it is sin. In those circumstances our anger is a symptom of a deeper-rooted sin that must be constantly addressed. That’s why Benedict admonishes us to deal daily with anger. We must daily deal with anger because we must daily examine our hearts for those deep-seated sins that influence so much of our behavior.
Another reason that we must daily deal with anger is that anger is not just a symptom of deep-rooted sin in our lives, it is also the gateway to further sin in our lives. Even righteous anger, if it is not assuaged by love and forgiveness, will fester into sin. Anger becomes frustration. Frustration becomes bitterness. Bitterness grows into resentment. Resentment, if left unchecked, will grow into hatred. And as Jesus tells us in Matt. 5:21-26, hatred is the first step towards murder. If you doubt the truth of Jesus’s words on the issue, just look to the story of Cain and Abel for evidence of this truth. Like that match carelessly tossed aside that smolders into a raging wildfire consuming all in its path, so, too, anger left unchecked will consume us and our relationships.
So, what’s the cure? We know that we need to deal with anger daily, but how do we do so? The answer is actually found in the rule we examined last week—Love Christ Above All Else. As we grasp for ourselves God’s love and patience with us, we in turn increase in our capacity to love God and others. And as 1 Cor. 13 shows us, love is the key to snuffing out anger.
- Think through the difference between righteous anger and sinful anger. What are some examples of each?
- Think through your personal life. Where are the areas where you display the most anger? What might be the root sins behind such anger? Take time to ask God to reveal those root causes of anger to you, and ask God to forgive you for those things.
- How might anger be a gateway to other sin in your life? Have you ever seen, or do you see that pattern in your life now?
- Take time to read 1 Cor. 13 and its description of love. How does love snuff out anger? How can you allow love to snuff out anger in your personal life?