Friday, May 10, 2013

Is Anger A Sin?

Hate is a strong word.  “I hate this weather.  I hate tacos.  I hate flip flops.”  Seriously?  Can you really hate Mexican food in the same way you hate child abuse?  Hate is a strong word that is overused and generalized.  Hate is a sin.  “But wait pastor, should you not hate sin, the devil, injustice, and abuse?”  Absolutely!  But that isn’t where we use or hear the word “hate” predominately used.  The word “hate” is almost always used in reference to being mad, angry, or furious at someone in how they have wronged you.  Being wronged can upset you – I’ve been there.  I hear everyday how someone hates another person because of what they have done to them. 

“I may hate them but I would never act on it or kill anyone over it?”  Really?  One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shall not murder.”  “Easy”, you say. “I would never take the life of another human.  I may be angry in my heart with them but that isn’t as bad as acting on that hate.  I can control my anger.  Didn’t Jesus say I could get angry and not sin?”  Actually that was Paul (Ephesians 4:26) and he wasn’t saying it’s OK to get angry but if you do get angry run from it so you don’t sin.  Paul then said don’t let the sun go down on your anger, which means to handle your anger properly and quickly before it leads to sin. “Well, didn’t Jesus get angry?”

Let’s see how Jesus showed anger a few times in Scripture.  He was angry at the sin of hypocrisy  in the Pharisees (Matthew 23).  He was angry with Peter for acting like the Devil (Matthew 16:23), angry at the hardness of hearts of people (Mark 3:5), angry with the actions of those who kept children away from Him (Mark 10:14), and angry with the actions of those defiling the temple by robbing people in it (Mark 11:15-18).  These are all examples of righteous anger which is being angry at sin.  Jesus loved people, and was angry at their sin.  There is a difference.

Jesus expanded the sin of anger when he preached His Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 5:21-22 tells being angry with someone in your heart (not acting on it in any way) makes you guilty to judgment like you committed murder.  Jesus wasn’t saying it was wrong to murder here – that was understood.  He was saying it was wrong to hate – which is murder in your heart.  You know when you hate someone – you can’t stand to be around them, when they walk into a room you get anxious and your blood pressure rises, and a myriad of bad thoughts take you captive at the mention of their name.  This type of hate is destroying and paralyzing you.  You need to repent to God, forgive that person, and stop letting the sin of hate hold you captive. 

“But they wronged me!”  Maybe that’s true.  But Scripture tells us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).  Are you an Ephesians 4:31 person or and Ephesians 4:32 person?  Maybe you would never literally kill them but you’ve killed them 1,000 times in your head and heart.  Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who do you harm so that you will be children of God (Matthew 5:43-45).  Maybe what you should be hating is hate itself and sin instead of people who are not our enemies (Ephesians 6:12)?  

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