Survivor Series: The Anger of Man
Not a day goes by where something tragic happens somewhere in the world. We often do not need to look far away to experience this. The inhumanity or carelessness of man provides ample instances of the tragic and horrific. There is enough to make any person be filled with rage and anger. It is even more so when it is personal. And when it is personal and the anger pounds away, what are we to do? Proverbs 19:11 states: A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression. Overlook “this” transgression? Slow to anger?! Does God not know this is at least “level 2” anger as described this weekend by Pastor Ed? I wish I had an easy and quick fix. I do not. My perception of the answer is, it is hard and will cost someone everything.
Here it goes. James 1:19 & 20 reads: This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. The answer rests here – achieving the righteousness of God. My anger, whatever level anger it may be, cannot get me to the place that God wants me to be. If the verses in Proverbs highlighted by Pastor Ed are to be believed, (and they are) the negative impacts of anger are immense. According to Proverbs, the places anger takes me are far from righteousness. So, in the face of immense transgression, does overlooking lead to righteousness?
I have come to understand that judging the impact of “losses,” be they hurt emotions, severed relationships, terrible experiences or death cannot be quantified on an objective linear scale and certainly not on one’s own personally constructed scale. One person’s experience of sexual abuse may manifest grief and anger on the same level emotionally as one’s teammate striking out with the championship game on the line in Little League. Thinking one thing is not so bad when viewed in my value system is a whole different matter to another. Lest you feel I am allowing “mountains out of mole hill” I do feel there are instances where we need a perspective adjustment but this directly pertains to anger not achieving the righteousness of God.
I think in many situations, overlooking is really about letting go. The cause or reason for the anger and hurt cannot be undone but holding the heartache does not have to continue on and dictate your life. This can be very hard – letting go. Letting go involves releasing your grip on the anger or hurt. Often letting go means forgiving the offender. Letting go emotionally gives up my right for retribution and restitution. In simple terms, it means it costs me. The cost may be time spent in counseling. It may be the huge effort entailed in rebuilding self-worth. It may force you out of your comfort zone into new areas or new relationships. It is giving up justifying your choice to remain in anger and misery. It is the cost of opening your heart again and taking the risks of living. So what is the reward for letting go? I believe it is righteousness expressed as wholeness. God would have us be whole and complete, lacking in nothing. To remain in anger denies moving forward in wholeness.
This is hard to do whatever the offense may be but there is a path. It is important to note again, anger does not achieve the wholeness of God. So what does? The beginning of the path (and ultimately the end) is the healing and soothing of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He came that we would find wholeness in God. And this cost Him everything. From here your anger and hurt can be processed through the power of the Holy Spirit. Exercising your free will to choose God, together you can overlook the transgressions. And this “together” often means that Jesus brings along His team because having teammates make the journey less overwhelming and victory attainable. Whether you are deep into Level 1, 2 or 3 anger the “turnaround” starts with overlooking the transgression through the wholeness of Jesus Christ. I think the actual nuts and bolts will be different for each person and you will need to search out what this looks like for you personally but I think it is easier with the family of God surrounding you. God has designed His family with many parts. Some are counselors, some are teachers, some are chefs, some are great listeners and some are faithful friends willing to say the hard stuff. Struggling with anger? Go with Team Jesus.