While I am often glad to jump into online sports debates, I typically stay out of all other social media debates. For one, my position a missionary puts some restrictions on what is allowable and advisable online behavior. Second, I simply don’t like how flat out nasty social media arguments can get. Look, I’ve been called about every nasty derivate of a Cornhusker known to humankind for my support of my Nebraska Cornhuskers. I typically take that with a smile on my face. But, man oh man, online debates and conversations can get nasty. The names I see people calling each other, and the ways I see fellow Christians treating one another, makes me hurt.
Here is what I’ve noticed on social media. There is A LOT of anger in America right now. While I may no longer live there, I certainly understand much of the frustration I hear. A lot of people are struggling and hurting, and they have every right to be frustrated and upset. Life is hard, and our fallen world makes it all the harder. It is completely natural for us to feel frustrated, hurt, upset, and even angry at things in this broken world. In fact, the Bible shares many examples of things that upset, frustrate, and anger God. It’s ok to get a little angry and frustrated. What is important is that we do not let our anger and frustration lead to sin. Checkout these two verses:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
It’s that last part that caught my eye today: human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Notice that James is quick to denote human anger. There is certainly righteous anger, such as the feeling of frustration we feel when we see the amount of pain and suffering in the world. Righteous anger propels us to righteous action. Human anger, however, leads to sinful action. It leads us to hurt others, to lie, to attack, to judge unfairly, to destroy relationships, and to even hurt the Church. I have seen so much damage happen because of the inability to control one’s anger. Full disclosure: I have too often been the one whose anger led to sin.
So, how do we know when our anger is righteous or not? Thankfully, James provides us with an easy test. If our feelings lead us towards righteous behavior, fantastic! If, however, our anger leads us to sinful and non-God glorifying behavior, then we need to get ourselves under control. I pray we can all reflect on the following question this week: is my anger leading me to sinful behavior instead of righteous action? If it is, this Lenten season is a good time to work on curbing your anger and increasing your love and righteousness. May you have a blessed week!