Summary: Is it possible that we eliminate the vice of anger, but in so doing also eliminate the virtue of it? It is obviously not Christ like to be losing your temper and blasting people, and seeking revenge. But on the other hand, it is also not Christ like to never be angry at the forces of evil.
I had an awful temper as a child. When I was in first or second grade I broke a pool cue over the
head of one of my brother's friends, and for years after I was reminded that I caused the scar on his
forehead. My older brother came close to getting even worse. In one of our fights he picked me up
and threw me down on the floor. In a rage of anger I grabbed the steel stove poker, and would have
clobbered him had it not been for parental interference. Blood banks could triple their business if
they could figure out how to prevent parents from preventing sibling violence.
I don't know how many doors my father had to fix because of my angry slamming of them, and
yes, I was one of those kids who shouted at my parents in anger, "I hate you!" The point is, I didn't
learn it all from TV, for it didn't exist then. I know from personal experience how anger can be filled
with potential for evil and senseless destruction. In the process of maturing, and by growth as a
Christian, I got over being a hot head, and gained control of my anger. This is the case with many,
and even most Christians, but my question is, can we get so in control of our anger that we lose the
value of being capable of anger?
Is it possible that we eliminate the vice of anger, but in so doing also eliminate the virtue of it? It
is obviously not Christ like to be losing your temper and blasting people, and seeking revenge. But
on the other hand, it is also not Christ like to never be angry at the forces of evil. Jesus was the
perfect man yet He got angry at the Pharisees for their hardness of heart that made them more
concerned about their Sabbath legalism then the life of a fellow worshipper. So what we have in this
same context is perfect illustrations of the two sides of anger-the awful anger of men, and the
awesome anger of God.
The worse kind and the best kind of anger are illustrated right here side by side in verses 5 and 6.
We want to focus on each in order to see the clear distinction, and thus, be able to channel our own
anger in the proper direction. Let's look first at-
I. THE AWFUL ANGER OF MEN. v. 6
This verse reveals the most wicked example of anger the world has ever seen. Here were good
and godly men who were the religious and political leaders of God's people, and yet they let anger
motivate them to plot the murder of the only perfect man who ever lived. This is depravity at its
lowest depth. Anger is the worst emotion man is capable of, for it leads to the justifying of the
murder of another human being. Cain in anger killed his brother Abel, and most murders every
since have been motivated by anger. Every person in a state of anger is a potential killer, and,
therefore, anger is the most dangerous of human emotions.
Anger is the emotion that led men to despise and reject Jesus, and then crucify Him. You look in
vain to find a more dangerous emotion. But let me keep the paradox before you. Jesus was angry,
and so we cannot loose sight of the fact that there can be value in this most dangerous of emotions.
In 1899 a school teacher by the name of Billy Rankin was convinced that a certain hill in Idaho was
filled with copper. He started to dig, and continued to do so for years. He left off from time to time
to work in a saw mill to buy enough dynamite to keep blasting deeper into the earth. He dug for 50
years until he died. He poured his whole life into a hole in the ground, and found nothing of value.
It would seem equally futile to try and dig into the dark pit of this emotion of anger to find
anything of value. But the fact is, there is treasure to mine from this pit that has produced so much
evil. This emotion which can make us potentially among the worse of men is also a vital ingredient
in the character of the best of men. This is a paradox if there ever was one. So as we look at the
awfulness of anger I don't want you to forget it also has great potential for good.
The usual message about anger is that it is bad stuff, and so get rid of it. Paul in Eph. 4:31 says
just that: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger...." In Col. 3:8 he says, "But now, you must rid