For those that have experienced major traumatic events anger is the single emotion that they will walk with through life. Traumatic events program the mind and body to respond quickly and aggressively to events that may cause harm. While this is helpful when life or wellbeing is threatened, it can be extremely destructive in the normal relationships of life.
There is of course good or “righteous” anger as described in scripture. This is the kind of anger produced when we observe something that is sinful or destructive. Righteous anger motivates us to prevent evil and pursue justice. This is the kind of anger that most of us say we have. We like to justify what we do and there is no better justification than the preservation of truth!
If we are honest though, most often when we respond to something in anger, it is not for the “right” reasons. And this is where we need to understand the difference between what we feel and what we do. Feeling angry is not necessarily wrong. Responding in an unkind or even hateful way because of that anger is.
A simple example is one that anyone with children would understand. “Feeling” angry because one’s child does not do what they are told is not wrong. Berating or belittling them is. We cannot excuse our actions because of how we feel. Which is easier said than done.
Our reading today contrasts the demonstration of love and grace to those in our life with the hurtful response produced by anger. We are not told in this passage that we need to choose when we “feel” angry, but we are told that we need to choose how we respond. We need to get in the habit of treating others the way that we would like to be treated instead of simply “responding” because of how we feel.
This is not easy and can be simply dismissed by concluding that “they” do not deserve for us to respond in love and grace so we won’t. The author of this passage concludes that we choose to extend grace to others because God has chosen to extend grace to us.
Anger is a feeling. How we respond is a choice. Decide that you will respond to others with the same grace, love and forgiveness that God offers to you.