In Christian circles, we wear our loving, gentle spirits like badges of honor. Without realizing it, we have started a “who can go the longest without getting angry” contest and we all think we are winning.
But what if no one is winning? In fact, what if the only thing our contest is doing is hurting the church?
Author and former seminary dean Sarah Sumner explored the idea of godly anger in the book Angry Like Jesus: Using His Example to Spark Your Moral Courage. Sumner suggests that by not allowing ourselves to get angry, we are actually allowing evil to take place.
Dorcas Cheng-Tozun interviewed Sumner about her book and the importance of godly anger for Christianity Today.
Sumner explained that godly anger is about noticing when evil is occurring and stepping in to stop it. Expressing godly anger means strategically intervening when we see wrongdoing. It is not the kind of anger that yells and slams doors. It is an anger that comes from a place of love.
Sumner said, “Godly anger is the guardian of love. Psalm 7:11 says that God is a righteous judge who ‘displays his wrath every day.’ Having godly anger means standing up for what’s right, for the sake of honoring God.”
It starts with prayer, Sumner said. From there, God will lead you in a way to intervene.
But what about James 1:19? “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
Slow is the key here. We’re not told to never get angry at all.
It is time to stop hiding behind our “No judgement” platitudes and do something when we see corruption in the church.
Sumner said, “We are commanded, in Romans 12:9, to ‘hate what is evil.’ Many Christians brag of being loving or nonjudgmental. But if we don’t abhor evil, we end up participating in it.”
Godly anger that comes from love will not hurt the church. But being a bystander that allows shady behavior to occur without interference will.
“Many of the “nones” and “dones” are demoralized by compromising reactions, if not outright denials, toward evil in the church. We have to hate evil enough to tell the truth when we see something shady or flat-out illegal taking place. There needs to be a greater moral courage to do the right thing, even if it costs you. And then we will find that God has our backs,” Sumner said.
Crosswalk.com contributor Whitney Hopler wrote that anger is a natural emotion for humans, but it can be used to God’s glory.
“Anger is a natural emotion that arises whenever you encounter a situation you perceive to be wrong,” Hopler said. “You can either process and express your anger in sinful ways… or you can handle anger in ways that fuel a passion to advance God’s kingdom work. Ask God to help you see situations that make you angry from His perspective, so you’ll learn to recognize the difference between good and bad anger.”
God make us perfectly, and that includes our ability to feel anger. When we use express our anger lovingly with an intent to rectify wrongdoing, we are living in accordance of His will.
Carrie Dedrick is the Family Editor for Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: January 22, 2016