At a confusing section of highway (which is quite common in Western PA) those on the on-ramp on the left side of the highway have a very short window to get to the off-ramp on the right for the next town. This is the way I regularly drove to work. One day another driver kept me from getting to the off-ramp. I was angry. Surely he saw my signal. He was just being a total jerk! I’m sure I saw the horns coming out of his head as he glared at me.
In reality the detour only put me a few miles out of my way. It wasn’t really that big of a deal. As I thought through the incident, I began to laugh. The fellow keeping me from my exit, was probably trying to get to work himself. Chances are he was focused on his own issues, and never even saw that I needed to merge to get to my exit.
Then I thought of how scripture says “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN” Eph 4:26a (NASB). Jesus got angry, and He took action and cleansed the temple. And we call that righteous anger.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. Romans 12:19 (NASB)
Of course we need to remember that Jesus is God… and we’re not. Jesus is perfect in all ways. So is His anger perfect? Yes. He knew the truth about what was happening, and in His infinite wisdom determined now was the time to act.
Was my anger in any way perfect? Did I know the truth? Was that righteous anger? Absolutely not! I just assumed the guy was a total jerk. Was he? I don’t know, probably not. That takes us back to be angry, and yet do not sin. My anger was not perfect as God’s is. My anger wasn’t based on knowledge, wisdom, and righteousness as God’s is.
My anger was not perfect, just as I am not perfect. God knows we will experience times of anger. Patience is a virtue. As we grow in Christ we should experience less anger and other negative emotions. But there will be times when we are angry. Then what do we do? …NOT SIN!
Our anger is not perfect. That’s why we are reminded by Scripture that we do not have the right of revenge. We belong to God, and He has reserved that right for Himself. That’s why God tells us to not sin when we are angry.
Do the right thing. The right thinking will follow. I chose not to blare my horn at that driver. I chose not to speed up and cut him off. I chose not to make obscene gestures. I chose not to show this inconsiderate driver my own horns. These are the ways of the world. They really should not be options for us anyway. As I calmed down, the right thinking followed. He never even saw me there.
Whether we pray, take a deep breath, count to 10, take a walk or whatever, we need that time to cool-down in order to once again think clearly. We can’t always trust our emotions. As we’ve seen, our emotions can lie to us. We can’t always trust our emotions, but we can trust God. Let Him take away your imperfect anger, and give you His perfect peace.
Now there’s a trustworthy emotion.