“Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?”
(Psalm 2:1, NLT)
Merriam Webster describes anger as: “a strong feeling of being upset or annoyed because of something wrong or bad: the feeling that makes someone want to hurt other people.”
There is a lot of anger in the world. We see it on the road when one driver cuts another drive off. We see it in the grocery lines when someone takes too long or has more than ten items in the express checkout. We see it on the sports field when one player doesn’t like another player’s action. Or even when a parent doesn’t like a call against their child or their child’s team. We see people from one political party raging against the perceived evils of another political party. We see it in our faith communities when one tradition does not agree with the practices or beliefs of another tradition. We see it on our homes, in our streets, in our schools, in our cities.
True, some anger rises up when we see a wrong or an injustice against the weak or the helpless. This type of anger, if handled wisely, can lead to intervention, protection and assistance. God calls us to this kind of action, because it is motived by love and compassion.
“The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.” (Isaiah 58:6-7, GNT)
However, most anger comes from our own selfish desires. In the pursuit of what we want, we end up being the instigator, the oppressor, the one inflicting pain on others. Scripture calls us to consider:
“Where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting within you. You want things, but you cannot have them, so you are ready to kill; you strongly desire things, but you cannot get them, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have what you want because you do not ask God for it. And when you ask, you do not receive it, because your motives are bad; you ask for things to use for your own pleasures.” (James 4:1-3, GNT)
When you are angry, is it motivated by love and genuine concern for another’s wellbeing? Or is it motivated by selfishness, by trying to get what you want, whether it be power, possession or position, regardless of how grand or how insignificant?
Father, forgive me when I hurt others in my anger, rather than loving them. Forgive me when I pursue my own selfish gain, rather than wanting to seek the good of those around me.