I was so excited when it was announced from the pulpit last year that Bill Haughery was going to teach a class on anger–”Oh thank you Jesus! You’ve made the pastors create a class just for me! You’re so kind.” During most sessions, a section from Paul Tripp’s series on Being Good and Angry was shown as part of the course. I just revisited the video series on my own and it was full of such good stuff that I wanted to share tidbits with anyone else who might struggle with this sin. The following thoughts are either direct quotations or paraphrases from Paul Tripp’s video:
My struggle with sin is actually a struggle between two kingdoms–the kingdom of God and the kingdom of self. God’s anger is driven by His love for the world and the people He has made. My unholy anger is connected to things that have come to rule me that were never meant to rule me. My anger shows that I believe my way is the best and that I am the center of my world. Sin causes me to want to live in the claustrophobic confines of my own little self-defined world. I was never meant to live my life the way I want, when I want it, and how I want it. I was meant to live for a holy God and His kingdom full of grander purposes than I could ever imagine. When something in the created world takes over the place where God should be, I never move out into the world empty-handed. I always have an agenda trying to get others to co-opt into serving my kingdom. If they follow my expectations, I love them; if they don’t, I am spontaneously angry at them. I get angry over and over again not because others have broken God’s law, but because they have broken my laws. If I am angry at someone who has broken God’s law, I move toward that person with the anger of mercy, anger of wisdom, anger of grace, etc. Unrighteous anger says, “How dare you do this to me!” My anger reveals that someone has stepped on something that I think I can’t live without.
The goal is not anger management, but worship realignment (James 4:7). Worship is first an identity before it’s an activity. My behavior in any relationship or situation is my attempt to get out of it what is valuable to me. The bible teaches that God will take us where we do not want to go in order to produce in us what we could not achieve on our own. I will never be able to be free from anger until I am able to say “not my will but Your’s be done.” If I remain stuck in my wants, I am demanding to be God–that will only lead to endless dissatisfaction and on-going anger. Jesus’ death and resurrection has broken the power of sin in me so that in the moment of great passion, I can turn from sin and go to grace. Praise God! When it comes to anger the thing I need to be rescued from is me. My potential to say no to anger is much bigger than I think–my potential is Christ. I will enter into that grace by no longer looking outside of myself for the problem, but rather looking inside. My problem is that I am angry at all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons.