2-16 Devotions from James Smith’s book, The Good and Beautiful Life.
Today’s devotion is on anger and Jesus concern is for the heart of the issues, not just the outward action. We can be doing the right thing but have a heart full of anger. Anger itself is not wrong. In fact, righteous anger is good and is the correct response to injustice. It consists in getting angry at the things that anger God. Most of our anger is not righteous anger though.
The author mentions two other kinds of anger. 1. Visceral anger that happens fast and our bodies react quickly. 2. Meditative anger that is the kind that grows over a long period of time. The more we stew on it, the worse it becomes.
Visceral and meditative anger are fueled by two ingredients: unmet expectations and fear. When they unite they ignite into a strong emotion. Each day we encounter many unmet expectations that we cannot control.
But we can manage our fears by examining our narratives that lead to anger and replace them with the narratives of Jesus. For example our false narrative would say that we must be in control all of the time. God’s narrative says He is in control. The false one would say we are alone, but His narrative says He is always with us etc. We think that control is the answer but that only leads us to turn to our own resources, which is the neglect of God and his resources. Outside of the kingdom of God we are on our own. We must protect ourselves, fight for our rights and punish those who offend us. But inside God’s kingdom it is God who is with us, protecting us and fighting for our well-being. Knowing this, much of our anger will diminish. How do we move from fear to trust? We must remember that He never leaves us and never loses sight of us. God gives us space to experiment, grow and mature but doesn’t intrude. He is still watching us and familiar with all that we do. He permits nothing that happens to us that He cannot redeem and use for good. Another way for moving into trust is to change our narrative and develop new images to replace those that make us vulnerable to anger. We don’t want to give the enemy a foothold by our unexpressed and unresolved anger for it can turn into resentment and sin. But if we work on changing our narratives and give ourselves grace, we can change!