Be angry and do not sin . . . ~ Ephesians 4:26 (ESV)
READING: Mark 11:15-17
What makes you angry? Church planters often have short fuses. When our plans are thwarted or people stand in our way, disappoint us or betray us, we may get angry. We may justify our anger because we’re doing God’s work. We may even use anger to “motivate” people to do what must be done. Anger is not automatically a sin. After all: “Be angry, and do not sin.” But is our anger righteous anger?
Jesus did get angry. But why? He got angry when His disciples kept little children from His blessing. His disciples thought they were guarding Him from time-wasting interruptions. But Jesus was “indignant” – much displeased (v. 14).
He was angry at the tomb of Lazarus – “deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled” (Jn.11:33). The Greek words mean He was agitated and upset. When our Lord overturned the tables of the money-changers and drove out the vendors, He was angry (See Mark 11).
So Jesus got angry when people were hindered from coming to Him. Trying to stop the parents from bringing their children to Him was wrong. The money-changers and other vendors set up their booths in the only part of the Temple to which Gentiles had access. That was wrong.
And the terrible toll that sin takes, including the inevitability of death, is what angered Jesus at the tomb of His friend Lazarus – even knowing that He would soon raise him from the dead.
But Jesus did not get angry when His plans were opposed, when His disciples failed, or even when He was betrayed, falsely accused and sentenced to death. Often our anger is selfish, because of something done to us. Jesus’ anger was on behalf of people who were shut out and broken by sin.
Lord, Forgive me when my anger is all about me and not about others. Amen.
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