When a honey bee gets angry, it stings. After the sting, it dies. Literally, the bee gives its life in defense of its anger seeking revenge. Our anger is often like that of the bee. It is volatile and deadly. And, like the bee, we are able to inflict only a temporary pain to the objects of our ire, yet we are likely to kill ourselves in the process. The anger of man (or woman) does not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:20).
Of course, I don’t mean that we physically die, as does the bee. Rather, I mean that something about us is lost when we unleash our poisonous stingers of anger against others. We lose a right relationship with the person for one thing. For another thing, we lose control of our own emotions. But, even beyond these losses, we lose something else—something far more valuable than any reward of satisfaction we get by cutting another man or woman down to size. We lose sight of God.
You see, our anger does not establish righteousness. No matter how angry we get, no matter how many people we bring alongside of us to share in our anger, we cannot prove by that anger that we are right. Miriam was angry with Moses. Moses was angry with Miriam and with the people in the wilderness. The people in the wilderness were angry with God and Moses. Yet, none of these was considered righteous by God. All their grumblings were sin. In fact, their anger ended up making God angry with them because of their unbelief.
Did it matter that it was the majority opinion that they had a right to be angry? No. God does not establish righteousness by majority opinion. He establishes righteousness by His own righteousness. No matter how mad we get, no matter how many hornet’s nests of anger we stir up in others, no matter the size of the crowd or the volume of the protests—we will never attain to the righteousness of God by our anger. Indeed, as with the case of the Israelites in the wilderness, our anger may only be a clear presentation of our own unrighteousness. It does not matter that “everyone agrees” with our reason for being angry. The anger of man does not—and will not ever—bring about the righteousness of God. We lose sight of God when we curse our spouses, our bosses, our employees, our teachers, our team mates, our roommates, our siblings, or our parents.
Because we lose sight of God, we lose sight of ourselves, too. Perhaps the worst thing our outbursts of anger prove is that we have a very unrealistic view of ourselves before God. If we had any idea of how deeply our own private and public sins offend God, we would not dare allow our tongues out of our mouths as weapons to be employed against others. We would be quiet and still in the presence of God’s holiness, and we would see sufficient reason for keeping our own mouths shut, lest He become angry with us, and we perish along the way.
So, anger clearly makes us think too highly of ourselves, too lowly of others, and way too little of God. Instead of an outburst of anger, we should work to burst outwardly with grace toward others, remembering that Christ taught us “By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (Matthew 7:2-3)
God simply refuses to be impressed with our anger. He is too impressed with His Son who cleanses us from murderous thoughts and outbursts of anger (see Galatians 5). May we be as impressed with Christ as the Father. If that be the case, we would not exalt ourselves above others. We would be much quieter and gentler. And we would be more loving… and more joyful.