I have been privileged to officiate at two weddings over the past two weekends. In each of them, the beautiful and powerful expression of love found in 1 Corinthians 13 has been read. As I reflected on those words, one phrase has kept echoing back – “Love is not easily angered.”
We live in a time when it’s easy to get mad. We become frustrated that our elected leaders are not leading. We get upset that the economy continues to trudge along without turning around. Our blood pressure spikes when we have to fill up the tank with $3.29.9 gasoline. And we haven’t even mentioned the driver ahead of us who is talking on the cell phone, changing the radio station, and eating a Big Mac simultaneously! Anger seems to come all too easily.
Even worse, we often take out our anger on our own families. We explode at the slightest provocation. We treat our spouses and children worse than we treat total strangers! Brothers and sisters, it ought not to be this way!!
The book of James gives us some great wisdom when it comes to our anger. “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
When we become so easily inflamed with anger because of some slight done to us or some insensitive word spoken, we are not in the will of God. A short fuse is lengthened by the grace of God and dampened by His love that lives in us.
It is true that there are things that anger God. Should these anger us, as well? Absolutely. We can and should become angry over injustices and unrighteousness, but we must be careful how we respond to that anger. Vengeance is not ours to perform, but that does not mean we should not respond in meaningful ways to assist those who have been oppressed or work to right wrongs.
Jesus never responded in anger to personal attacks. He humbly and graciously endured those attacks without striking out in anger. What did anger Jesus was the hypocrisy of religious leaders, a disregard for His Father’s glory, and the oppression of the poor and helpless.
So, let me ask you – what things anger you? Do you mainly become angry over things that are done and said toward you? Things that inconvenience you? Things that don’t go your way? Living angry will not bring about the righteous life that God desires for you.
As we prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving, it is worth noting that anger destroys gratitude. You don’t see many angry people expressing thanks. This Thanksgiving, let us count our blessings from God and seek His grace to overcome our angry demeanors.