The energy of anger is a force to be reckoned with in our world. It can cause nation to rise against nation. It can cause neighbor to mistreat neighbor and families to crumble in pain. It can cause normally decent people to harbor hatred. It can cause all of us to lose our composure and make fools our of ourselves.
What is there about this mysterious power which causes us so much inner pain and frustration? Sometimes anger gains its strength from our exaggerated selfishness. It receives momentum from the “mighty me” complex. Anger preys on our weaknesses to make us feel strong. It makes us defensive and resentful toward those who detect the flaws in our armor. When we allow the sun to go down upon our wrath it complicates tomorrow’s relationships.
Misdirected anger can be one of our most harmful emotions. Yet it does not always need to be bad. Paul said, “Be angry and sin not.” Perhaps this is Paul’s way of acknowledging a proper anger. It is a proper anger that runs money changers from the temple when it is obvious they are keeping others from worship. It is right to be angry about the hurts of life when they rise out of mistreatment and evil. Paul is telling us to channel the energy of our wrath into constructive purposes.
As the Holy Spirit controls our lives, even the emotion of anger becomes a redemptive tool in the hands of God. As our anger is kindled against sin, we are energized to oppose it. There are things God does not want us to tolerate. He wants us to despise the sin that separates us from one another. He wants us to denounce the evils which destroy human personality.
Therefore, let us seek Him who can inspire us to be angry about sin and yet have love for the sinner. Let us be angry enough at sin to confess, repent, and turn from the awkward attitudes and actions which have stunted our spiritual growth. Let us be angry enough at hate to let love prevail, at fear to let courage inspire, at doubt to let faith direct, and at all uncleanliness so that righteousness might stand. Then and only then can we “be angry and sin not.”