I am currently reading a book by Ed Welch, “A Small Book About a Big Problem[i]” It has 50 short meditations about Anger. A few days ago I read this quote from Day 10: Blind Spots …
“In our anger, we think we see clearly—-much clearer than most people. We are certain that we are right and just. All we see is our rightness and someone else’s injustices done against us. But the evidence is that anger and hatred are the same thing with two different names, and hatred is blinding.
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:11)”
Did that statement and Scripture stop you in your tracks like it did me? Hatred?
I find I use the word hate more casually. I hate waiting in line. I hate it when I can’t sleep. I hate snakes. But hate a person?
Jesus, in His sermon on the mount told His listeners,
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother is liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ Will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:21-22
Jesus takes anger very seriously and makes the connection between anger and murder. He is moving His listeners and us from thinking of just the letter of the law to the deeper heart and spirit of the law.
We may not have broken the letter of the law, but dare I say, we have all broken the spirit of the 6th commandment innumerable times.
In our anger, we hate.
In our hatred, we are blind.
In our blindness, we fail to see, accept and own our own personal offense to Almighty God.
That gives me pause.
How destructive is our anger? Very.
It doesn’t have to be explosive anger to be destructive, it can be an underlying simmering anger, bitterness. None of us are 100% free of anger, so we all fall somewhere along the continuum.
Rather than thinking of anger as a minor character flaw or just-being-human, perhaps we need to start thinking of it for what it is. Hatred.
In every area of our heart where anger lingers, hatred lingers.
In every area where hatred lingers, love is absent.
Where love is absent, we are not walking in Christlikeness.
If this is true, then one way to combat anger is to replace it with love.
Not by the grace of God and the power of His indwelling Spirit.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14
[i] Edward T. Welch, A Small Book about a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace. New Growth Press. 2017.
Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.