The Truth about Guilt Meditations: 23. Guilt by Emotions
Mt 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.
Jas 4:2 You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.
Moving On: We have just considered the problem with ‘desires’ which may be good or bad, and desires involve emotions but there are some emotions that do not necessarily involve desire, such as anger. Now a simple dictionary definition of anger is ‘a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility’, and some might add a motivational addition, ‘because of something wrong or bad’
Causes: Anger may be a spontaneous reaction to some action or event caused by others, or it may be a more long-term feeling that almost becomes an attitude. Anger may be legitimate (God gets angry over sin) or not legitimate.
Wrong Causes: If a child is slow to learn, your frustration or lack of patience with them may be seen in anger vented by you. That is wrong anger and, oh yes, needs repentance. Then there is another common cause of anger to do with children, that relatives experience. It involves gift giving and their responses to it. Now that is mostly just a case of appreciation and in a day when many children (in the West at least) have many toys, appreciation is so often lacking. That is our loss by over-indulging our children (often because we feel guilty that we are not keeping up with what others do. It’s time Christians started leading the way to counter the consumerist mess). Essentially it is only polite to say thank-you for a gift but when someone, a child or adult, fails to give thanks (and we’ll deal with in respect of God in a later study) it is simply a sign of their poor socialization and lack of teaching by their parents, and that a matter more for pity than of anger.
Probably unjust anger between parents and children is one of the most common forms of anger today, but more often than not, it is a sign of lack of self-control in the parent, maybe because they have failed to learn to gently discipline and teach their child from their earliest years, so now the child is willful and disobedient. Anger in such situations becomes a tool to try and dominate the child’s willfulness, and that does little to remedy the bad situation. Discipline in this situation, please note, is not so much about punishment as about correction and guidance into right attitudes and behaviour which, as we said earlier, needs to be addressed from the very earliest years.
Right Causes Wrongly Expressed: When there has been physical abuse (wife-beating say) or sexual abuse (of a parent or more commonly today, step-parent) the guilt, shame and fear that often build up in the abused can easily turn into long-term anger. God is angry over such behaviour. We might suggest that this is just one form of prevalent injustice and where injustice continues and is not addressed, it almost invariably results in anger by the oppressed.
In 2020 the classic case of this was in respect of a black American killed at the hands of the police (one by-standing policeman being colored). This resulted in a wave of ‘protests’ in both the USA and the UK and some other countries around the globe when anger was vented in a major way. This killing was wrong on at least four counts: i) it was the over-use of force that resulted in an unlawful death, ii) it appears to have been a clear case of racism (which is always wrong), iii) it was a follow-on from numerous other deaths of black men at the hands of white police, an ongoing thing that has thus far not been addressed, and iv) it happened in an environment that has been allowed to run for over three hundred years and where change has been incredibly slow to come.
But the anger that we saw being vented in this case, was more likely to be just a further instance of anger that is stacked up in modern society that has been stoked by ‘identity politics’, a form of politics that has come into being in the last decade in the West where political people have sought to create a mindset of oppression of minority groups where inequality is sometimes prevalent and the powerful are seen as self-serving and unjust, or indeed that they permit injustice to prevail. (I have previously referred to abuses in the financial sector of modern western nations in the past twenty years). These injustices fuel anger but when this ‘identity politics’ has grown in such measure it also sees a lash-back by those, often in the majority, who feel their concerns are lost in this political maneuvering.
We have thus seen in a number of Western nations, but predominantly the USA and the UK, a toxic divisiveness in society that is expressed as anger and outright hostility against those who are ‘not with us’, over perceived truths, untruths, fake news, and injustices (real and imaginary). In the Covid-19 environment it is seen as hostility against government strictures that have been issued in order to control the virus. Christians have thus been drawn into these culture wars and I have heard ungodly and unrighteous expressions of this anger which has been allowed to permeate even the Christian culture. IT IS WRONG.
Countering these things: How do we deal with these things? Some Christians should involve themselves in politics if they feel they are so called. Above all else we should be purveyors of truth, love and goodness and we need to apply these things to all we see going on around us. We need to reject the vast majority of horror stories that come out, reject the conspiracy theories, refuse to join in chat-room assassinations, control our fingers on our cell phones and only communicate goodness. Yes, we should write to authorities complaining, but also expressing thanks and goodness. And above all, we should reject the fears, the tension, the angst that the enemy is using to destroy our nations in the present day, and seek the Lord, learning to commit all these things to Him in prayer and move according to the wisdom that He brings us.
Anger may be unrighteous if handled wrongly or if it springs from untruth. Anger over injustices should be channeled into prayer and righteous, godly responses. I believe this is a major area where Christians have been led in wrong-standing before the Lord. May we wake up and stop siding with any righteous cause that it being handled unrighteously and seek the Lord for a righteous response before He comes to bring even more disciplinary judgment on our nations. It is a time for repentance in this area.