Psalm 4:4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
When I read this in the Japanese Shinkaiyaku translation, I was shocked. Rather than the traditional English, “In your anger do not sin,” it says, “Be reverently fearful. Then do not sin.” I have heard this verse used many times in teaching on anger, but the Japanese doesn’t say that at all. It really makes me want to discuss this with a Hebrew scholar! In teaching on anger, the point is made that anger itself isn’t sinful, but what we do with it can be. Jesus certainly got angry at those who were desecrating the Temple, most particularly in the Court of the Gentiles, and by definition that wasn’t sin, so the point can be made without this verse, but this translation makes that point much harder to teach. James got it right in any case: “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20, ESV) One of the standard Old Testament descriptions of God is that He is “slow to anger.” We do well to copy Him! We also need to be careful about the target of our anger. The devil is our enemy, not people. The Sermon on the Mount tells us how to interact with people, and anger isn’t on the list. Anger can be a powerful motivation, as it was for Jesus in cleansing the Temple, so it is not without value. However, we need to be very careful to use our anger as God intends, rather than letting the devil use our anger to control us.
I personally don’t like to get angry, so it makes me angry to get angry. Cathy says when that happens, it can be scary! I can’t say I have “this anger thing” totally under control myself, but I see many people who are consumed by anger. In the process, they have allowed the devil to steal their peace, joy, and sometimes even humanity. The devil doesn’t deserve those spoils! In Japan, people are taught to suppress and/or control emotions, so a lot of people have buried anger that comes out in different ways. That’s one of the reasons for the high suicide rate, because some people finally vent their anger on themselves, instead of on the people they feel have wronged them. I have learned that anger needs to be released to God, rather than either stuffing it or “letting it rip.” That’s not an automatic response! I need to choose to let Jesus be Lord of my emotions, and as a pastor and counselor, I need to lead others to do the same.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for giving us emotions, even though they can be tricky at times. Help me make the use You intend of each of my emotions, and lead others to do the same, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!