Last week I encouraged you to remember with specificity the good things the Lord has done for you. Today we return to Psalm 4 and continue to learn how to suffer well.
In the midst of his trouble and grief, King David says to himself, “Be angry, and do not sin.” (Psalm 4:4) This can be a confusing verse, because in most of Scripture, isn’t anger categorized as a sin?
For example: “Man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:2); “Anger resides in the lap of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9); “Do not associate with one easily angered” (Proverbs 22:24); “You must rid yourselves of […] anger…” (Colossians 3:8)
So if the Bible defines anger as a sin in many places, how can David say, “Be angry, and do not sin” without contradicting God’s Word? Here’s a principle to remember: the 'biblical acceptability' of your anger depends upon the law which you’re angrily defending.
Think about it this way: how much of your anger last week was a result of you angrily defending the law of God? Were you angered by injustice and political corruption? Were you angered by Christians being persecuted? Were you angered by the weak being exploited?
Sadly, that anger doesn’t last very long. Frequently my anger is a result of me angrily defending another law - the law of me. I get angry when someone changes the channel, when they add something to my schedule, or when they request I give up something to serve them.
The same principle applies to anger and suffering. Most of the things you suffer from are angering to God: bodies weren’t designed to break, people weren’t created to betray, and governments weren’t established to abuse. Suffering in a fallen world should make you angry because suffering almost always correlates with God's law being broken in some way.
But all too often, we’re angry because the suffering inconveniences our little kingdom. It robs us of money, time, comfort, and pleasure. We’re not grieved and angry in unison with God; in fact, in many cases, we’re angry at God for allowing such things to come our way.
So when suffering enters your door, you should be furious. But your anger should be motivated by the law of God, not the law of self. It's much easier for me to write that than to live it, but Christ provides abundant daily grace for our anger problems.
For a deeper discussion on how to be good and angry at the same time, check out my curriculum by the same name: How to be Good and Angry.
Paul David Tripp
- What are some current events that should anger you as a Christian?
- How can you translate your anger into Christ-exalting action?
- When are the most common occurrences of your anger?
- What does your anger reveal about your heart?
- How can you seek help for your anger?