“But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matthew 5:22)
In the verse before this one Jesus talks about how the law was against murder and anyone who murdered was subject to judgment. So, in essence Jesus connected the seriousness of murder to that of uncontrolled anger. After all, rage can lead to murder. Does this mean that to be angry is a sin? Let’s look at the different types of anger and how Jesus himself got angry but never sinned.
Types Of Anger
Rage, fury and wrath are forms of anger that are destructive or vengeful. Indignation is being angry about something that is unfair, mean or shameful.
Jesus’ anger was always indignant. He didn’t even get angry at those who were crucifying him! But looked on them with compassion and mercy and even pleaded to his Father to, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”. (Luke 23:34)
Clearing The Temple
“In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, ‘Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!'” (John 2:14-16)
The above story is an amazing picture of Jesus displaying righteous anger towards those who were disgracing sacred ground. He was not passive or ask them nicely to leave. He took decisive action. His anger was pure and justified because its root was a concern for his Father’s temple.
Healing On The Sabbath
“Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” (Mark 3:1-6)
In these two examples of Jesus getting angry there is no selfishness involved. He got angry for the right reasons and for an appropriate amount of time. He was not angry at the people themselves, but at their sinful behavior or lack of faith.
In the passage from Mark it is said that Jesus was “deeply distressed”. This means that his anger was coupled with grief for the Pharisees’ lack of faith. Jesus only got angry with them because he truly loved them and had a genuine concern for their spiritual well-being.
In my opinion, God gave us anger to stir our passions to do the good works he has given us. Most importantly, to stand up for Him at a moments notice, but also to defend those who are being taken advantage of in the name of love. Often times we view anger as something that should be avoided because it can be a destructive emotion. However, Jesus has modeled for us the right way to be angry.
Ephesians 4:26 sums up the model Jesus has provided us. The command is not to avoid anger (or stuff it or ignore it) but to deal with it properly, and in a timely manner.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”