Lets admit it; we all get angry. I get angry. Angry at the government. Angry at the politicians. Angry at the driver who cuts us off. Angry at the line we have to wait in when we have a million and one other errands to run. Angry at the life’s craziness that steals our joy. Angry at the dog who tore up one of our favorite shoes. Angry at the one who rejects what we hold precious – especially our children and spouses. Angry at the experiences when our love, that let us share our most vulnerable self, is spurned and trampled into the mire of bad choices and selfish garbage that degrades the golden treasure offered.
“And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” Joel 2:13 (KJV)
We get our anger naturally. God created us “in His own image…” (Gen 1:27) If we accept the premise that the WORD of God is perfect, then we accept that scary parts of that WORD as well. These days we like to see God with only one emotion: LOVE. It is comfortable. It is non-controversial. Everyone likes hearing about LOVE. We like that one because we know everyone likes that one…easy-peasy. In our mind’s eye, it is our cute, little puppy…our strong father…our nurturing mother…our best friend…our perfect soul mate. It is that wonderful feeling that we want to surround ourselves with constantly.
But God is not easy. Jesus Christ is not easy. According to the accounts recorded in the WORD, both Rabbi Yeshua and His Father get angry. The war in heaven and the casting down of the evil one. The flood. Sodom and Gomorrah. Turning children away. Money changers in the temple. The lack of faith by disciples. A tree with no fruit. Look it up for yourselves. There are many more examples of righteous anger in both the Old and New Testament.
“Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.” Rom 12:19 (NLT)
The important thing is to notice how Rabbi Yeshua handled His anger while He journeyed here on earth. Over and over, He says how the Father shared with Him the things He was to share with us. Often when the accounts in the New Testament describe the rabbi getting angry, they also included the word sorrow (which will have to be a lesson for another time). Every time Rabbi Yeshua became angry, He modeled for us how to use that anger as a blessing rather than a curse. He did not retaliate. He did not belittle. He did not destroy. Instead, He reached out once again. He modeled…once again…how to turn the other cheek. He taught…over and over…to look for the lesson in the pain of the moment.
“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.” Mk 11:12(NIV)
For the longest time, I mused and contemplated why Jesus cursed a tree that did not have fruit. It bothered me. Even the reading the lesson that is generally presented with this story didn’t set easy. Then again, painful lessons are never easy. As I pondered my own anger this weekend, I looked back at this lesson. Righteous anger is different from destructive anger. If we water our soil with the WORD, fertilize and loosen the soil around our roots with actions that bare witness to those words, and bask in the rays of LIGHT that emanate from His kingdom, then we have a good chance of our anger bearing fruit because it is righteous anger. Anger that is close to sorrow. Anger that bears fruit. Anger that does not destroy but teaches.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mk 11:25
So scary – so not easy-peasy – so right.