Anger and Offense

Here’s a simple observation.  You don’t even really need to wrong someone for them to be angry with you.  And once the anger starts, watch out!

I have noticed a whole bunch lately among many people, that you don’t really have “do anything” to someone for them to get mad at you.  Some of the most common causes of the anger I see between people are: “I don’t agree with you”, “I don’t agree with your choice”, “I don’t like something you said”, “you don’t give me enough attention”, “you don’t do things the way I think they should be done”, “you don’t agree with ME!”, “you don’t give me what I want”…among others.

It’s interesting to note that most of the time, the “issue” is nothing intentional on the part of the offending person.  To state it bluntly, the “issue” is usually all about the offended person.  In other words, “it’s all about me”.

But here’s an even bigger problem.  Relational anger of this sort gets UGLY in a hurry.  I’ve noticed that people with an axe to grind can’t wait to get on the attack to try to harm, damage, discredit, criticize, and demean.  If you don’t agree with that statement, just think back for a few moments about the last person you ticked off.  Perhaps it was a co-worker.  In the work environment, it’s probably more common that an offended or annoyed co-worker would do whatever he/she could to try to damage your reputation with other employees or supervisors.  Because if he can get rid of you, he gets rid of his problem.  Or so he thinks…

You see, when there’s relational anger, it’s not enough to just be a little mad.  It’s necessary for most people to “get even”.  Again, getting back to my original premise; “… most of the time, the “issue” is nothing intentional on the part of the offending person”.  If this is the case and the “offense” was nothing more than a mistake, a mis-speaking, or an accident…(or most common “a personality trait”), what’s to get even for?  Why stay angry?  Why look for vengeance?

The Bible has much to say on this topic because it’s such a problem for us emotional beings.  Eph 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I want you to think about those words for a moment.  It’s ok to get angry.  We are emotional beings, so it’s gonna happen.  There’s not much we can do about that.  But what does Paul say about what to do with that anger?  We’re to put it away eventually by dealing with it immediately.  Why else do you think Paul tells us to deal with our anger before sundown?  Satan is a master at manipulating you via your emotional side.  This is where Satan does his dirtiest work…where things get really ugly.  It is in emotional moments where our guard is totally down and ineffective against his lies.  For example, think of your kids if you have any, or think about when you were one:  Johnny is on a playground with his friends and one of the more obnoxious little boys tells Johnny that Andy doesn’t like him.  What have you most often seen this sort of situation evolve into?  Yep, the end of little friendships, bullying, fights, and the building of coalitions against poor little Andy.  Andy, by the way, probably has NO IDEA of what just happened or why.  Johnny listened to the lie and with Satan’s help, his deceiving heart ran with it.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9

As adults, we still tend toward this kind of behavior.  Satan is still up to no good.  And we still get quite ugly.  So we gossip.  We slander.  We attack.  We ignore.  And the vicious cycle of deceit goes on and on and on and on and…  We get angrier, and angrier, and angrier.  With the setting of every day’s sun, Satan gains more of a foothold as he multiplies the lies and hardens our hearts.

Remember this:  We are all one body.  If we are in Christ, we are family, like it or not.  I may not agree with you.  I may not like something you said or did.  But family is family.  We don’t have the option of attacking each other just because we’re ticked off.  When we let relational anger take root, it will grow!  This is a certainty.  When that happens, Satan steals a little slice of our unity as a Christian community.  Why in the “hell” would we choose to allow this?

And no, I didn’t write this just about you…whoever you are.  So don’t get angry with me unnecessarily.  If you do, start reading this blog entry all over again.  Please.