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On your Mark

Never a time not to do good

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 3:5,6, NIV)

Anger is like gunpowder. Whether it is good or bad depends on how you use it. It can blast away at injustice, or it can kill and maim the innocent.

Clearly, both forms of anger are present in the synagogue when Jesus healed the man with the shriveled hand. Jesus is angry, and His opponents are mad enough to kill.

The teachers of the Law (that is, the Pharisees) had criticized Jesus for forgiving a paralytic’s sins (2:6,7), for eating with sinners and tax collectors at Levi’s house (2:15,16), and for His disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath (2:23). Now, they dared Him to heal on the Sabbath.

Jesus has had it with their insensitivity to those in spiritual and physical need, for their callous indifference and judgmental disposition.

Is it ever right to be angry? Yes! We have the Lord’s own example! He looked around with anger and was deeply distressed!

What can the right kind of anger do for you?

It will stir you from apathy so that you fight injustice.

William Wilberforce of England lived in a day when slave trading was an accepted practice. His lifetime of effort succeeded in banishing this evil from Great Britain. His righteous anger moved a whole nation to no longer ignore this terrible treatment of human beings. Surely, you likewise can find a cause that remedies an injustice!

What makes you angry? Do you remain apathetic when someone is mistreated? Are you angry at the human trafficking that takes place all over the world? At the pornographic industry that wrecks multiplied millions of lives? At the unprincipled greedy who exploit the poor and the defenseless? At abusers who prey upon and damage children? The list is almost endless when it comes to injustice.

The human emotion of anger is meant to stir us to take action. Individually, you cannot tackle all the ills and wrongs in society, but you can do at least one thing. Get angry in the right way about something that God wants corrected.

Then, release your anger in a way that heals rather than destroys. That’s what Jesus did. He didn’t become an angry person. He used anger rather than letting anger use Him.

Anger fills you with energy to do the right thing. Let it be your servant and not your master.

On the other hand, destructive anger kills. You see that with the Pharisees and Herodians. They were not natural allies. They spanned opposite ends of the religious and political spectrum. The Pharisees loathed the government of Herod. The Herodians broke the rules of religious tradition left and right. However, the Pharisees and Herodians found common ground against Jesus. Their anger overrode all other passions.

The wrong kind of anger leads to destructive alliances. Its goal is not to remedy, not to help, not to heal; its aim is to destroy, to get even, and to punish.

The apostle Paul tells us, “In your anger, do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Constructive anger never sins. It always does the right thing in the right way with the right spirit.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, help me to also “look around” and see what You would have me be angry at. Deliver me from apathy and looking the other way when I see injustice. Rid me of anger that destroys, and fill me with anger that brings good.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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