We’ve been conditioned to get angry.
See a post on social media, watch the news, read the news, and there it is, something for you to get mad about! It’s considered a virtue even to be angry. It shows you care. It shows you have some investment in what is going on. Our sermon on Sunday from Matthew 5:20-26 talked about having a righteousness that is above and beyond the law. A righteousness we need because we can’t even get angry without putting our soul in mortal danger.
I don’t like my temper, but when it goes off, it’s when I think I’m right. But Jesus says that it doesn’t matter if I’m right, if I’m not careful at the moment I feel I am “100% right,” it could be the exact same moment I am bringing judgment on myself.
What brings about real change is not our anger, but Jesus.
I mentioned a passage during the sermon I’d like to talk more about here, and that’s James 1:20 “For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” It’s a favorite passage of mine at the moment, because I’m working on my anger. If I want to instill in my kids a more righteous life or instill a more righteous life for those in the pews, anger is not the route to get it done.
Sure is fun, though, to get angry.
Jesus’ forgiveness is far more powerful than my outrage, and benefits my neighbor far more than him realizing how foolish he is. Jesus’ forgiveness brings about real change. If I want my kids to have a more righteousness life, they need more Jesus with that law, and those in the pews need more forgiveness with that correction.
That kind of righteous life is a work in progress.
We’re dealing with our conscience after all, that meter that tells us right and wrong. We’re dealing with causes we have strong opinions on. And we’re dealing with flawed human beings. It’s a challenging mix. We’d like to have a set of rules we can follow to navigate these challenges. Jesus tells us isn’t about rules, it’s about a righteousness that is above and beyond the law. A righteousness that does what is right without a rule book. A righteousness that is beautifully simple, when you think about it. It is righteousness that sees the neighbor not as an idiot, but one for whom Christ died for.
“Jesus died for this person for the same reasons He died for me. Jesus loves them for the same reason He loves me.”
It doesn’t stop us from talking to someone about their sin, but it does change our heart and attitude, when we do. The less we think “It’s us vs. them”and the more we think “Jesus FOR them,” the better we can control our anger, and the better the chances for a more righteous life, both for us and for those we talk to.
So let’s get outraged at all our outrage.
This isn’t a “can’t we all get along?” post. It’s entirely possible that we won’t all get along. It also isn’t entirely the angry person’s fault. They may be right, after all. However, if they want to produce a more righteous life in someone else or themselves, anger and outrage is not the way. So, let’s get outraged at all our outrage, and see our anger not as a sign of us being right, but more importantly, a sign that we need Jesus.
Not being angry in the midst of a culture of anger and outrage is a tall order. But it is what makes us a genuine and authentic Christian, one who fights their “fun” emotions such as anger because they love their Jesus and because of Him, love their neighbor.