One of the stories we don’t talk about too often is about Jesus clearing the temple (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19). It sometimes gives us the same uncomfortable feeling that we experience when we talk about or hear sermons about finances. We see a bunch of different versions of Jesus throughout the New Testament, from the one who loves kids, to the one who has a ton of spiritual knowledge, to the one who mourns the death of friends, to the one who dies on the cross, to the one who rises again on Easter morning. Most of the time the stories illustrate Jesus as someone who is mostly peaceful and laid back, but we don’t have any video of Him to really show us what He was like. We certainly have plenty of graphic descriptions about how bad a crucifixion was from different historical writers, even though we don’t have a lot of information on what Jesus specifically experienced. But then there’s the story of Jesus clearing the temple, and we’re introduced to someone who doesn’t really resemble the man we thought we knew.
That’s the funny thing about anger, it can take us over and show a side of us that most people never see. Anger is one of the many emotions we feel along with love, sorrow, hurt and joy. Most people experience all of the emotions at least once in their lifetime. Yes, some people do fit the “angry person” description, but most of us just have a moment (or realistically several moments over the course of our life) where our emotions just get the best of us. Maybe we’re tired, maybe we’re fed up, maybe we’re overwhelmed, maybe we’re embarrassed, maybe we’re scared, maybe it’s a defense mechanism; all of these things can lead to a moment of anger.
Anger isn’t just a human emotion, although it does help us relate more personally to Jesus, God gets angry too. Various passages throughout the Bible show that sometimes God does have anger burn against people who are sinning or have committed a serious sin against Him or those He loves. But again and again God stops, He doesn’t let His anger get the best of Him or let the anger stay in control for long. You can’t take things back when they’re said or done in anger, which is why it’s important to do your best to not let anger be the solution you choose or let things get to the point of anger too often.
So where does that leave us? Some things can’t be fixed, but 99% of the time we should be giving out second chances. We should try to understand the anger that others express because we want them to try to understand when we express anger as well. If we understand their anger, maybe we’ll see they have good reason to be angry, even if they should have spoken up before it got to a boiling point, and/or we should have listened better before it got to that.
But the majority of His Earthly life Jesus lived with grace, compassion and humility. Ultimately our goal should be to be like Jesus, and that means that the majority of the time we should be sharing love, care, compassion and help to those around us. Jesus could have been angry more often, He could have demanded royal treatment more often, He could have gotten frustrated more often, but instead He chose to listen, learn, build relationships and teach to the best of His ability on Earth. We may never stack up to His example, but we certainly should give it our best shot. What has your anger or the anger of others taught you?