The Good and the Bad Side of Anger
I went to the business office to get a purchase order for office supplies; I think it was a box of file folders or paper clips, and the attendant questioned me like I was Oliver Twist asking for more gruel! I felt anything like a professional. My face began to burn and I stepped outside before saying something I might regret. Most of us have been in similar situations and know the body language of anger. Our face flushes, our jaws tighten, our eyes become narrow slits and often our voices are raised an octave or two. Anger is normal and natural.
It's noteworthy that the Apostle Paul wrote about two kinds of anger in Ephesians--an anger we must avoid (4:31) and an anger we harness for good (4:26).
Destructive anger brings physical harm, degradation of character or self-esteem and loss of fellowship with God. We've said about others, "That just didn't sound like him." Anger can turn us into a different person--a person others don't like and a person we don’t like!
Jesus warned in the Sermon on the Mount that we must not harbor anger in lives. He noted the Old Testament forbade murder, but it's like murdering another person in our hearts if we hold animosity for them.
Remember the housefly who gorged himself on stale baloney and then climbed up the knife handle to fly away, but fell dead. The moral is don't fly off the handle when you're full of baloney!
But there is an anger that leads to constructive change in our lives and in our society. We've seen several notable examples in recent years.
Adam Walsh was abducted and killed in 1981. His father, John, has done more than anyone to highlight the issue of child exploitation and abduction. Many businesses now have "Code Adam" when a child is reported missing. President Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Safety Act in 2006.
Candace Lightner was heart-broken in 1981 when her daughter Cari, age 13, was killed by a drunk driver. Lightner was angry when she learned the driver had two previous offenses with minimal sentencing. She founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving which has done more than any other group to raise awareness of this problem.
And closer to home, we remember the sad story of Natalee Holloway who disappeared in 2005 in Aruba. Her mother, Beth, founded the Safe Travels organization and speaks to young people around the nation about protecting themselves when traveling overseas.
Anger can be good if it leads to positive change.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala., and adjunct instructor of speech at Jefferson State Community College, Hoover. Permission is granted to use this material with attribution.