Tuesday, November 10, 2009

respectable sins: anger... [part one]

bridges addresses anger in two chapters and acknowledges that he is only scratching the surface.  i really liked these two chapters. very convicting for me. anger is for sure one of the sins that i continually fall into and then sweep it under the rug or just dismiss it. so let's dive in.

"anger is a universal problem, prevalent in every culture, experienced by every generation. no one is isolated from its presence or immune from its poison. it permeates each person and spoils our most intimate relationships. anger is a given part of our fallen human fabric."
- uprooting anger by robert jones

bridges defines anger as "a strong feeling of displeasure, and usually of antagonism. [and]... it's often accompanied by sinful emotions, words, and actions hurtful to those who are are the objects of our anger"(121).

he pauses here to define righteous anger so that we can differentiate between sinful anger and righteous anger.
"righteous anger arises from an accurate perception of true evil - that is, as a violation of god's moral law. it focuses on god and his will, not on me and my will. second, righteous anger is always self-controlled. it never causes one to lose his temper or retaliate in some vengeful way"(122).
nine times out of ten, my anger is somehow about me and how i have been wronged. it is not because my lord is being defamed. and my lack of self-control is proof that it is sinful.

bridges then comes at us with a dagger and says:
"no one causes us to be angry. someone else's word or actions may become the occasion of our anger, but the cause lies deep within us - usually our pride, or selfishness, or desire to control" (122).
boom! i often play the blame game with anger.  i am so angry because so and so did this... when in reality, when so and so did such and such it made me look bad, embarrassed me, let me down, or hurt me.  bridges reminds us that we chose how we respond to someone's sinful actions towards us.  [1 peter 2:18-20]

so when we find ourselves angry, we need to stop and acknowledge and confess the sin.  we need to ask ourselves, why are we angry. what is the deeper issue here?  take time to examine what really made us angry and what would a gospel centered response look like? we need to remember how scripture teaches us to treat one another. [1 corinthians 13:4-8, ephesians 4:32] if we have expressed our anger toward someone, we need to seek their forgiveness.  i do not do this well. i just hope that it will just blow over and that they will know that i am not normally like that, or that they will not do that again to make me mad. lastly, bridges points out that we need to trust god and his sovereignty over everything, even the affairs of our daily lives. when we remember that god is in control of all and that he is all powerful, it makes it a tad easier to see the current situation as a way to make us more like christ in our response.

bridges takes a brief section of this chapter to point out that anger towards god is a sin. i think we can all think of a time when we were angry with god about something. sometimes it is something big and life changing but most times it is something that we do not understand and it begins subtly as questioning. then the questioning turns into a manipulation of proverbs 3:4-5 "god i need/deserve this and if you were real you would provide it."

a specific example of this in my life is singleness. i have wrestled with this a lot. "god, why have you not brought me someone? why do you say that it is not good for man to be alone, yet you have no one for me? you have given me this desire, you owe it to me to fulfill it." the lord finally humbled me and showed me that what i was essentially saying was, "your plan stinks. i don't trust it. i want to be married now, in fact i should have been a long time ago." after this humiliation, i had to remind myself that the lord withholds no good thing from me and that he is in complete control and knows what is best and will provide for all my needs. see what this anger revealed? thankfully after much wrestling, the lord has brought me to a place where i trust him with my future mate or future singleness.  he changed my view from wanting to live this life married to wanting to live this life for the kingdom, married or not.

so when you find yourself angry at god, and you will if you are human, we need to acknowledge it as sin and repent.  why is it sin? god is big enough to handle it right?  it is a sin because "it is a moral judgment, and in the case of god, it accuses him of wrongdoing" (127).  bridges is quick to say that the solution to this problem is not just stuffing away the feelings because we know they are wrong, but rather to focus on the heart issue: not trusting in god and his sovereignty and power. 

but what about the sin against us? what about how we were wronged? don't we have a right to be angry about that? i will let scripture answer that for us. matthew 18:15-35 ought to be convicting enough. this is a VERY convicting passage for me. i always want to look at how someone has wronged me and i forget how christ has forgiven me. that my wrongs meant he had to die for me.  bridges poses a great thought.
"do i believe that this difficult situation or this unjust treatment is under the sovereign control of god and that in his infinite wisdom and goodness he is using these difficult circumstances to conform me more ot the likeness of christ" (124). hebrews 12:4-11 romans 8:28
that is enough to read and think on for one blog post. i will write another that covers bridges second chapter on anger: the weeds of anger and how to deal with our anger.

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