Anger Management

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

The other day I was driving out of the parking lot of a shopping mall and BAM, someone hit my car as if I was invisible. It was one of those moments that felt like slow motion. I saw the car right outside my window and realized they were getting too close to have seen me. I thought to myself, “Am I invisible?” which quickly changed to, “...Uh oh, she’s not stopping.” I sped up a bit but couldn’t avoid the BOOM. The side of my black car obtained some new, unwanted white color. It was a clear cut, “I am at no fault here,” moment, and I’m pretty sure I audibly growled. (Weird.) But I exited the car and dealt with the situation. I could feel my hands shaking, not as much out of shock as it was out of anger. I felt wronged. It’s one thing to be in an accident where I made a bad choice, but this was completely out of my control. It happened at like 10 mph, so no one was even close to getting hurt. And of course I’m glad of that, but I wasn’t able to benefit from the adrenaline release that comes when you feel you survived something threatening. This crash was a result of pure carelessness. I had every reason to be mad. And I was. But luckily my weird growl got out what I physically needed to release, and after talking with the other driver and seeing she wasn’t an evil supervillain, I chose to try to let go of the anger. “Goosfraba..,” as Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson taught me.

I keep thinking about how easily I could have not been in that moment at that time. Me and the kids stopped for an unplanned snack before leaving the mall. We took one extra potty break for the sake of my still-learning toddler. I even moseyed about getting a movie set up for the kids to watch during the drive home. If we had operated under our normal ways, we would have been long gone before the incident. I can’t help but think it was something to which God said, “Ok, I’ll allow it.” For weeks I’ve been asking my Bible study group to be praying with me for patience with my kids, and for a lessened inclination to get angry with them (especially my threenager). People like to joke that you shouldn’t pray for patience because God will deliver by giving you a lot of frustrating scenarios to live through, thus desensitizing you like exposure therapy. I never really believed that, especially since God works so differently in each of our lives, but I have to wonder if this accident is a way that God is teaching me perspective when it comes to choosing whether or not to get angry.

In John 2:13-22, we see Jesus do something we don’t normally see him do: get angry.

13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

18 But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”

19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” 21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19 Click To Tweet

Going with the Bible study outline I explained in previous posts (Read to Know Basis), we can take a closer look at this text.

What happened?: Jesus didn’t like people turning God’s house of worship into a marketplace. So he got upset, and tossed their things, and drove them out.

Your first reaction?: This is the classic “Jesus got mad” story, but I think we truly forget that he was capable of this high emotion reaction. This is the man that stays calm while exorcising demons and yet this scene caused him to handcraft whips and destroy people’s things. So what about this makes this relaxed man so angry?

How does this apply to Jesus-followers?: I think of it as similar to what we’ve done to Christmas. A time that we set aside to praise the Lord and to remember what he has done for us, and we’ve turned it into primarily a consumer holiday. The temple was a place created for worship, and these people turned it into a place of business, pushing aside the original purpose. I think the takeaway here is to eliminate obstacles of worship, and to remain focused on what our real purpose here is.

What does this tell you about Jesus?: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” Jesus wanted so bad for everyone around him to just “get it.” Think of how frustrating it must have been when his followers still doubted him even after witnessing first hand his teachings and miracles. So when he finally arrived to the temple, he had reached his limit. Jesus values focused worship. He does not value consumerism. He should be our standard for our own priorities, and his priorities were God first, worldly things last.

Jesus got angry. Does that give us liberty to get angry when we feel so inclined? The fact that we can so easily point to the “Jesus got mad story” tells us there weren’t many occasions that he displayed this emotion so publicly. In Matthew 26:47-56, we see Jesus react unhumanly calm in an emotionally dense situation.

47 And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

55 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56 But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Jesus said that he could have summoned angels to come to protect him. Imagine having the ability to save yourself and not doing it? He also was kind to Judas even knowing that he had betrayed him. He didn’t display his anger. We act a lot off of emotions. One of Jesus’ followers reacted by attacking, and eventually all of them ran, abandoning Jesus. But even in the scary moment, even knowing what was ahead of him, Jesus had the ability to remain level headed and act based off of his God given job, not his anger and fear. Jesus is powerful, calculating, obedient, humble, loving, forgiving, and good.

There is a time and place for anger. Jesus got angry when he saw people misusing a place meant to be set aside for worshipping God. But he remained calm when his life was on the line. The difference was purpose. When Jesus stopped his follower from attacking, he knew his arrest was a step in the process to bringing salvation to the world. When God allowed my crash to happen, he used it to reveal to me my anger problem. Shortly after the crash, as I was driving to show my husband the damage, I successfully finished releasing my anger, recognizing that God was using this event to shape and transform me… a purpose bigger than the inconvenience of having to file an insurance claim and put the car in the shop. Anger is justified during times like when Jesus saw the merchants at the temple, events when something hinders the mission of Jesus (which is to bring people to him and therefore eternal life). When we see this, go for it. Get angry. But do so with a loving heart, intent to help begin transformation in peoples’ hearts and to break the barrier, allowing the mission of Jesus to proceed. We are Jesus’ warriors. We are held responsible to know when anger is acting as fuel for our mission and conversely when it halts growth. Our job is to continue his mission, to occasionally get angry over the barriers, and  to continually practice the skill of thwarting our anger in times that it would do harm.

There is a time and place for anger. Jesus got angry when he saw people misusing a place meant to be set aside for worshipping God. But he remained calm when his life was on the line. The difference was purpose. Click To Tweet

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:19-20 (emphasis added) Click To Tweet

Ashlee is a wife and SAHM, an eager follower of Jesus, and a chronically loud-laugher. She loves finding new ways to look at the Bible, in hopes to grow closer to Jesus and to find fresh ways to learn and teach others.

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