3,5,6 “When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled … Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed: ‘I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you ...’”
Ezra 9:3,5,6 (NIV)
I recently watched two guys get ejected in Oakland for fighting. In a very competitive, fast-paced, high-stress world, anger comes into play quite often. It can vex hot and certainly boil over.
Have you been angry lately? About what? Who was the target?
God’s man, Ezra, got good and angry. Angry enough to tear his clothes and pull out his hair (literally). The interesting part was that it didn’t have anything to do with him. It was the sins of others who followed the Lord that really bothered him.
He had no personal mess up. But he waxed hot for those who did. His righteous care for others made him burn. He gave himself permission to be quite angry. And he handled it well.
Can we talk about your anger too? I have some questions.
WHAT GETS YOU ANGRY? Is it losing that triggers you? Is it just when you don’t get your own way or feel that your personal rights are violated? Do you get angry about your sin?
Like Ezra, do the sins of other Christians frost you because His Name gets trampled among men? Do you get angry over the things that make God’s heart angry? That’s where God’s Word gives us permission to let loose.
DOES GOD FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT MY ANGER? Great question. Be sure to align your emotions with His. He burns strictly over sin, nothing more. That includes sins of omission (failing to do what is right or indifference), as well as commission (willfully doing what’s wrong or rebellion). Be great at getting mad at what He does!
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT? Permit yourself to only get angry over what makes God angry. Be careful about expressing any other form. Burn with holy anger, not your own.
Don’t run “anger stop signs” and believe it won’t cause accidents. Seriously practice Proverbs 16:32. Memorize it and make it your daily self-talk.
Be slow to anger. Mix it with forgiveness, mercy and love as often as possible, just like God does (Numbers 14:18).
Be angry but don’t sin (Ephesians 4:26). There’s a difference. One is proper, the other abusive. As Clint Eastwood would say, “A man has to know his limitations.“
Settle your anger by sunset. Put a quick end to it. This is hard, but you’ll be glad you did. I know, it’s hard for me. Surround anger with prayer. Always pray before and after the battle! This caps anger beautifully.
A prayer to consider: LORD, I wanna be devastated by what devastates You, and let that kind of anger motivate and move me. Teach me how to control my anger, as well as let it loose for holy benefit.
Let me feel both self-control and righteous indignation. I want to move wisely in both directions. Show me the difference. Amen.