Hulk Smash! How the Bible addresses and encourages anger.
One of my all-time favorite movie quotes came from the first Avengers movie. When Loki’s invasion was well-underway, and the Avengers needed a boost, they called on David Banner. As David confidently walked towards the on-coming attack, Captain America told him...
"Dr. Banner – Now might be a good time for you to get angry."
Banner’s response was EPIC as he continued walking toward the opposition:
"That’s my secret Captain. I’m always angry…"
He then proceeded to transform into the Hulk, and do what the Hulk does – SMASH!
The reason I get so fired up by that scene, and that quote, is because there’s a lot of truth in that sentiment for me. I feel like I’m always angry. I feel like that’s true for a lot of us guys though. The root of the issue doesn’t really matter though. Sure, we can take a deep dive into our past and try to unravel the motivation of our minds through psychological analysis, but does that do any good? Are men less angry today as a result of those sorts of mental and emotional services that “professionals” offer to men all over? You’d be hard-pressed to convince me that modern “anger management” techniques are as helpful as they say.
If we want to know the cause of our anger, the Bible makes it simple.
The moment we’re conceived, our souls are developing physical mechanisms to find ways to rebel against God. God is peace. Our hearts are naturally set to oppose Him. What’s the opposite of peace? It’s not rocket science, is it?
Well, what if I told you that the Bible doesn’t condemn anger? What if I told you that, the Bible actually encourages anger? What if I told you that, God is like The Hulk, in the sense that, He’s angry all of the time too?
Alright, so check it out. There are really two Bible verses, that if we look at them in the right context, we can understand God’s perspective concerning anger. Does God REALLY condone anger? The answer is yes, BUT that anger needs to be directed at a certain subject, a certain way, with a certain objective, with an ability that only He can provide. We are actually commanded to be angry and smash things, just like The Hulk. But understand this:
The Hulk was only helpful as an Avenger when his anger was projected at the right target. Otherwise, he was a hindrance, and his strength and power was an overall weakness to the team and main objective.
We function the same way, so we need the scriptures to teach us how to ensure our anger is directed at the right target, using the LORD Himself as our example.
Let’s start with the LORD as our example. In Psalm 7:11, the Bible says:
“God [is] a just judge, and God is angry [with the wicked] every day.”
This is one way that the Bible addresses and encourages anger. God is angry with the wicked every day. He’s angry all the time, but His anger is directed towards a certain subject, and also with a certain temperament. Before we get into the subject of anger, it’s important to see how the Bible sets God and His anger, apart from all of us.
God is the One True Just Judge. This truth teaches us about a few things that are unique to God.
He is supremely righteous, and the source of all justice. Everything He does is right and fair.
He knows all things. That’s how He’s able to make proper decisions. He sees things from the eternal and spiritual plane of reality, knowing the things that happen, as well as the personal and spiritual motives that provoke all those things.
God is all-powerful and has all control. He’s able to do whatever is required, to ensure the right and fair outcome. It doesn’t always seem that way because He’s also eternal and spiritual. Often times, it takes a long time to see the outcome of God’s righteous works.
Maybe the most important of all these attributes, at least as it pertains to us, is that God is merciful and patient. Yes, He’s angry with the wicked every day, BUT He takes a LOOOOONG time to boil over in His anger. Why? He’s merciful. In Psalm 103:10, the Bible teaches that God doesn’t treat any of us to the full measure that we deserve. That includes the wicked that He’s angry with. Think about it. If God is angry with the wicked every day, how come it seems like wicked people get to live for so long, often times without suffering any consequences for their actions? God isn’t governed by His anger, so that He lacks restraint. Instead, He’s governed by mercy, waiting a long time before He deals with the wicked.
None of us are like that. So, when it comes to obeying God’s command about anger, we need to recognize that we’re not God. We’re not The Just Judge. Vengeance doesn’t belong to us. We don’t have the right to pop-off or clap-back at folks because we feel they deserve it. We need to be dependent on the LORD for the righteousness, wisdom, ability, control, mercy, and patience that’s required to make sure that our anger is a supernatural manifestation of God’s anger. The targets of our anger, need to be the same as God’s target. We need to be angry with the wicked every day – starting with ourselves.
Here's what I mean by that. If God is angry with the wicked every day, what does that mean for the people of God, who have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ, born again by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, having received eternal life? Think about this. Are you perfect now that you’re a Christian? Of course not. Do you have total control over your thoughts and actions now that the Holy Spirit is dwelling within you? Nope! Do you wake up daily, perfectly representing Jesus Christ now that you’ve been forgiven and spiritually cleansed? No one does.
One of the most fundamental truths about being a believer in Jesus Christ, is that when we’re saved, we are not “made” righteous. We are “declared” righteous by The Father, but that IS sufficient to ensure our ticket to heaven. We will be “made” righteous later, when we enter into His presence. Until then, we got issues. Sure, as Christians, we’re not GOVERNED by our sinful nature, but we are definitely influenced by it! That’s why we keep making mistakes. That’s why our anger continues to be problematic.
In Jeremiah 17:9, the Bible teaches that our hearts – our natural essence that we continue to struggle with daily – is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We can’t even know the true depths of our own hearts. Our constant struggle to do what’s right in the eyes of God, EVEN AS CHRISTIANS, is proof of this lingering issue. Psalm 7:11 told us that God is angry with the wicked every day, and Jeremiah 17:9 says that, while we are saved from the eternal consequences of our sin, we are still influenced by our own wickedness. Is God still angry with us? We’re forgiven, but yes, He is, when we sin against Him. Now keep that in mind as we look at this next verse.
In Ephesians 4:26-27, the Apostle Paul wrote:
“‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”
Here is the command I was talking about before. This is a plain and simple command to be angry; and here, Paul is actually quoting from the Old Testament. He’s quoting Psalm 4:4, showing that this is a command that God is serious about, since He repeats it. We’re commanded to be angry, but that anger shouldn’t be laced with sin. We’re commanded to be angry, but that anger should be in the pure quality of God’s own anger. Notice how the command resolves. We’re commanded to be angry and to keep from sin SO THAT we don’t give a place for the devil to influence our lives as Christians.
How do we properly apply this command?
If God is angry with the wicked every day, we should be too – beginning with the lingering influence of our own flesh. Rather than looking at the issues of other people, or harping on the frustrating circumstances of life around us, we need to turn our focus inward to ourselves FIRST. This is another way the Bible addresses and encourages anger. Think of it this way. Jesus told His disciples to worry about the giant log in their own eyes, before worrying about the speck in someone else’s. Isn’t it possible that the intensity of our anger issues stems from our own sin that’s going unresolved in repentance?
The Bible teaches that the devil LOVES to play on that reality. So long as he can keep us focused on other people and other things, he’s misdirecting our anger. That keeps us destructive like him. The Bible clearly teaches an emphasis on individual accountability in humble repentance, BEFORE we start worrying about surrounding issues. If we were as aggressive against our own sin, as we are about some other things that bother us in life, we’d probably sin a lot less, connect way more intimately to the LORD, and have a lot more satisfaction with our salvation as God intends.
When the Avengers needed help, they looked to The Hulk. They understood that, if the intensity and strength of his anger, was projected in the right place, it would be game-changing! They were right.
Fellas, I’m here to tell you, the same is true of us. God is angry with sin. We should be too. If we’re angry all the time, and we directed that anger towards the issues of our own flesh – smashing idols, sexual immorality, self-righteousness, self-entitlement, and so forth – we’d be living a true life of daily repentance. We’d be a lot humbler. We’d be less destructive to people and circumstances around us. We’d be better witnesses. As a result, we’d be better equipped to deal with the wickedness of the world the way God does. The humility that comes with anger directed at our own sin gives us the ability to walk in the Spirit; where He then provides that supernatural ability to express God’s righteousness, wisdom, power, control (self-control), mercy, and patience that brings glory to His name, and peace to our lives. When anger is directed in the right place, THAT’s where we win battles.
So, if you’re like me, and The Hulk; and you’re angry all the time, it’s time to man up, and take your aggression out on the sinful influence of your own flesh, repent, humble yourself, and make the power of your anger, spiritually-productive for victory.