In 1979, I was called at the Youth Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Quitman, Louisiana. Being only nineteen myself, I found myself learning as much (if not more) than I was able to share.
One of my most difficult challenges was to maintain order during the weekly youth meetings. We would start out OK, but the kids would get louder and louder, until it was almost impossible to hear yourself think, let alone try and teach.
One week they were particularly rowdy. Nothing I tried could quiet them down. Finally, in desperation, I slapped my hand down on a folding table in the room. Unknown tome, the legs on the table were not secured, and, as soon as I hit it, the metal table crashed on the concrete floor with a deafening bang. For the rest of the evening (and most of my stay at that church) I had no problem maintaining order, and even to this day I am remembers as the youth pastor who got mad and broke a table.
Anger. The mere mention of the word is sufficient to spark some unpleasant memories best left forgotten. Harsh words were spoken that spewed like acid from our mouths. Some treasured heirloom was shattered into more pieces that all the king’s men could even find, let alone put back together. Life changing decisions were made in a moment of emotional insanity that we ordinarily would never have considered, with disastrous consequences.
Most of us, when we think of anger, tend to consider only its negative, destructive elements. We look at the pain and suffering, the chaos and confusion anger has caused us in the past. And often there enters into our thinking this great temptation to avoid it as something that has too much potential for danger.
However, there is a positive as well as a negative side to anger. The difference between the two is the difference between lightning and an electrical current powering a lamp in our living room. Yes, anger can present problems, but it also has the ability to motivate us to action such as few other emotions.
Listen to these words of advice concerning anger given to us by the Apostle Paul: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26.27 KJV).
Paul does not say here, “You have to eliminate anger from your life.” Rather, what he counsels us to do is to learn to deal with anger in a constructive, positive manner.
The Bible is filled with occasions when some of the greatest examples of faith acted in anger. Moses got angry. He had spent forty days on Mount Sinai receiving the Law of God. During this entire time he had been in the presence of the Lord. But then the Lord told him to go down from the mountain, because the people had entered into great sin. As Moses saw the debauchery of the children of Israel, he took the stone tablets on which were written the commandments of God and slammed it on the ground.
Paul got angry. In Acts 17:16 we read, “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry (KJV).” Paul saw the spiritual wickedness at work in the city of Athens, and his blood pressure began to rise. He got angry. And in his anger he preached one of the most powerful messages of his ministry.
Yet perhaps the best example of positive anger is to be found in the example of Jesus. Watch Jesus as He enters into the Temple and sees things resembling more a carnival sideshow than a place of prayer of worship. He takes a piece of rope, fashions out of it a whip, and begins to clear out the Temple of all the merchants as well as their merchandise.
I cannot help but wonder if there might not be those times today when we need to get angry. As we look at the rampant immorality and permissiveness sweeping our land, maybe what is needed most is someone to stand up, empowered by the Spirit of the Lord, and declare, “I have seen all that I can handle!” Who knows but that this could be the wake-up call for our nation, to return to the biblical principles which made us great.
Sometimes a little anger is a good thing.
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