Anger, when it is misspent, can be a terrible thing. It can be a destructive force that destroys people and things. It can destroy our peace and change who we are. Whereas, anger with control can be a positive force. It can propel us into action to change wrong things and make them right. It can move an entire society to correct wrong attitudes, wrong practices, wrong institutions and protect the innocent. Uncontrolled anger leaves in it's wake a sea of destruction but controlled anger produces positive change. This is why the Word of God states:
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26)
In other words, do not just brood in your anger. Do not allow it to be something you try to bury. Channel it into something positive. Try to change, in a positive way, whatever is causing you to be angry.
We all know and accept that Jesus was a man of peace and forgiveness. Any of the people who encountered him in their sin can attest to that fact. He was so gentle with the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well who was also lost in her sin. There was no anger in Jesus, just understanding and forgiveness. Perhaps this is why we have a tough time reconciling his actions at the temple with how we have come to see him:
Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” (Matthew 21:12-13)
Not so understanding and forgiving here. What made the difference? The difference was that this market place had become a hindrance, a blockage for the earnest seekers of God. What was intended as a place of worship and prayer had become a noisy market place where worshipers of God were taken advantage of by people who could not care less about God. It is the same reason Jesus refuted the Pharisees so often because they had become a stumbling block for true seekers of God instead of guides and teachers.
We must remember God's heart. One of the things the Word tells us is that we have a responsibility to look after the weak, innocent and marginalized people of society. We see it in many scripture passages but one of the most powerful is found here:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:34-36)
There are plenty of things in our society that should cause our blood to boil and provoke us to change. There are plenty of things in the Church and in ourselves as well. There is nothing I can get angry at more than myself, more than this stubborn flesh of mine. However, as much as we are often prepared to become angry, we fail to do anything with it or we allow it to become a destructive force instead of a positive one. We are a great society at punishing people for their crimes but we leave it at that. We are terrible at allowing God to make something beautiful out of something ugly.
If we continue to read on from where Jesus drove out the market people we see that the next day children were singing and praising the Lord in that same place. We also read that it is where the blind and the lame came to seek Jesus for healing. Jesus channeled his anger into something that brought about positive change. He always kept his goal in front of him; he came to save the lost not punish them. Although our sin angers our Father, he used his love to channel that anger into something positive. He took action to make it possible for our sin to be forgiven, to remove the thing that provoked his anger and that brings death to us. As he has done for us we are to do for others. My friends, in your anger do not sin but also do not let the sun go down on it. Take action and allow God to use you to make positive changes in the lives of the people around you. God has made you an incredible force for positive change in this world.