We are living in angry times. There have been many seasons of anger in our lifetimes. In every age, to be frank.
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” [from Matthew 5]
Anger isn’t always a bad thing. Anger at injustice provides an impetus and a trajectory toward justice. Moses got angry when the people made an idol. Prophets got angry when widows and orphans were neglected, and when the stranger wasn’t provided with hospitality. Jesus got angry and overturned the tables of those who were profiting from poor worshipers.
The problem comes, even with righteous anger, when we are so angry that we do harm.
The problem comes when we stay angry instead of letting that anger subside and morph into looking for creative and constructive solutions to unjust actions and systems.
The problem comes when anger is a way of life, or a lens through which we view other people.
The problem comes when anger interferes with relationships.
Insults and angry words almost never help things; they make things worse.
In angry times, it’s important that we rebuild broken relationships. It’s important that we offer criticism in such a way that it constructs bridges instead of barriers. It’s important that we let love for our fellow human beings turn anger into listening, and then into action.
Otherwise, our anger will kill us.
“You’ve heard it said, don’t murder. But I’m telling you not to be angry.” Get yourself right with your neighbor, because anger has the potential of killing you and the neighbor too. At least it has the potential of killing the good things that are inside both of you.
© 2017 Melissa Bane Sevier