One night last week my husband went to bed without saying goodnight. I was upstairs working on my computer while he was downstairs reading. An hour later I went to find him only to discover he was already in bed. And not just resting, he was sound asleep with the lights off and everything.
I quickly had to fight off the indignation. Only two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about how the Bible tells us it is to our glory to overlook an offense. Here I was with my first test to put my words into action. So I asked the Lord,
Is there anything that is okay not to overlook? Can I ever be mad?
I know some of you have the same questions because I received several responses to my last blog article wondering what the difference between overlooking an offense and enabling sin is. So today I’m writing a follow-up post sharing some of the things I’m learning as I search the Bible to understand anger better.
Anger, an emotion from the Lord, should only be aroused when sin is involved. In the Old Testament when His anger burned against humanity or in the New Testament when Jesus overturned tables in the Temple, God displayed righteous anger.
He was angry over sin!
When my husband does something that bothers me (like going to sleep without saying goodnight), most of the time he isn’t sinning. It is just him not saying or doing what I want him to do. He didn’t meet my expectations or live up to my code of conduct. When that is the case, I have no choice but to overlook his so-called offense. It is self-focused anger when I demand my way or sulk when circumstances are out of my control.
Romans 3:23 tells us what we already know, that everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And I think that is where the secret to righteous anger lies. God’s standard is far superior to our own, and it is against Him alone we sin.
I need to remember that my husband doesn’t sin against me.
He sins against God.
When I approach my husband with the arrogant attitude that he has wronged me personally, I’m equating myself with God. I’m not sinless, and so while my husband and I might fall differently, we both fall from God’s glory. Looking at my husband’s shortcomings through that lens increases my grace towards him.
Certainly, there are times when my husband hurts me, or I suffer the consequences of his sin. However, I need to remember that no matter the situation, there is no actual “Darby’s law” that my husband violates. He can come to me for reconciliation, but I can’t wash away his sin. The flip side is also true. I can’t sin against my husband, but I can sin against God, and my husband pays the price. I can betray his trust and work towards restoration, but the blood of Christ alone absolves my transgressions.
The Bible tells us that God does experience anger, but that it is in direct correlation with sin. God’s Word also reveals multiple times that God is slow to anger! He asks us to be the same,
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry… ~ James 1:19
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute. ~ Proverbs 15:18
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. ~ Proverbs 16:32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. ~ Ephesians 4:31
So is there a time and a place for anger? Yes. But, as humans, we must have strict control over this emotion. Our pride will tell us we have a right to be angry, but God’s Word reminds us that is often not the case. Romans 6:15 encourages us to use our fear of the Lord to implement boundaries in our lives so that we are never continuing in, condoning, or enabling sin.
Our husbands deserve our grace and patience while our marriages deserve the high standard of God’s expectations.
God is still answering my prayer over my question, “Can I ever be mad?” But right now, I’m bringing each emotion and circumstance before the Lord. Like in the book of Jonah when God kept asking Jonah, “Have you any right to be angry?” I feel Him asking me the same question, and just like Jonah I may think I have a reason, but the more I study God’s Word, the more my personal anger dissipates in the presence of His Holiness.
How do you define righteous anger and what examples of it do you see in marriages?