Anger: Part 1
Are you ready for some good news?
Being mad isn’t a sin. Sometimes you can be good and mad. But, if you struggle with anger, the Gospel is the cure.
Paul’s words to the Ephesians are remarkable:
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:26–28, ESV)
It’s part of the exhortation: be angry. In other words, God has an expectation that we will be angry. Wow.
“Do not sin….” That’s the harder part. The flesh always wants to link anger to sin.
Years ago, author and counselor Larry Crabb explained that most anger is the result of blocked goals. There is a difference between desires and goals. Desires are good and goals are good, but they mustn’t be confused. A desire might be: “I would like to get a promotion at work.” Nothing wrong with a desire like that. Here’s what you do with a desire: pray about it.
The outcome of our desires is beyond our control. But goals are different. When we make a goal, it’s something we can control. A goal might be: “I want to excel at my vocation or I want to get additional training that will make me more skilled.”
According to Crabb, our sinful anger responses come when we confuse desires and goals. If you desire a promotion and get angry if you don’t get it, you probably have set up a desire as a goal in your mind. The appropriate response to an unmet desire is disappointment and grief. But not anger.
If you’re feeling angry about something, you may have confused a desire and a goal. God loves to give you the desires of your heart – but God does that, not you. When you let God be the satisfier of your desires, you let go of the illusion of control. When you let God be in control, anger melts away. And that’s the Gospel!