Anger; July 28, 2020

Matthew 21:19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

Just the other day someone was asking me if Jesus ever got angry, and here we have a pretty clear answer. We’ve just had the report of His clearing the merchants out of the Court of the Gentiles in the temple, (verse 12) and John reports that he even made a whip to do that. (John 2:15) Here, irritated at not finding anything to eat when He was hungry, He cursed a fig tree and it withered, when Mark records that it wasn’t even the season for figs! (Mark 11:13) Actually, when a fig tree is in full leaf is will often have a few “out of season” figs on it, so Jesus’ expectation wasn’t entirely unreasonable. In any case, Jesus was indeed fully human. We tend to paint an impossible image of Jesus, when He was fully human as well as fully divine. That’s why the song, To Be Like Jesus, isn’t at all unreasonable. As Paul said, we are indeed to “put to death” the flesh that is in rebellion against God, (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5) but that doesn’t mean we become inhuman, it rather means that our humanity comes into line with God, in service to Him. We aren’t to use our humanity as an excuse to sin, (Romans 6:1-2) but neither are we to beat ourselves up over being human. We have created the term, “righteous indigna­tion,” to describe what Jesus felt when He cleansed the temple and such, and we like to claim that for ourselves any time we get angry, but the truth is most often different. That said, there are too many times when we don’t get angry at things that God hates, like human trafficking, abortion and such. We turn things upside down, using anger in destructive ways instead of as a tool in God’s hands. It is not at all that we are never to be angry, but rather that our anger is to be submitted to God and channeled as He intends.

I have a rather strange relationship with anger, because I don’t like to be angry, and so get angry that I’m angry! That’s about as stupid as it sounds, but it’s a pretty accurate description. However, I’m not to fear anger but rather let God use it, as I’ve just written. When Jesus cleansed the temple, His disciples remembered something David had written: “Zeal for your house consumes me.” (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17) I need to be willing to be “consumed by zeal!” At the same time, my wife tells me that I sometimes come across as angry when I don’t consciously feel angry, and that’s not a good thing. Again, I need to be more like Jesus! I am still very much a work in progress, and I need to remember that everyone around me is too, and respond to them accordingly.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me submit all my emotions to You, allowing You to use them to motivate me to do Your will and nothing less, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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