Listen to this definition: wrath, indignation, a violent impulse, more specifically anger that gets exhibited in punishment. (That from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance KJV for the word ‘angry.’)
How often are our expressions of anger meant to punish others? Intentionally or unintentionally we try to get back at people that offend us, try to make them hurt the way they hurt us. Sometimes its simply inappropriate, like when we get mad and break things or when we respond with disproportionate force – either with blows or with words.
At my first job as manager of the test lab, a manufacturing supervisor reamed me in front of our project team for asking for a dozen parts off the line in order to get a statistically meaningful number. He yelled saying, among other things, I was lucky to get one. Sad to say, that affected me for years, and not in a good way. I remember some months later I cursed out an engineer who wanted to specify what kind of test to run in the lab. [Please forgive me, Thomas.] See how that gets transmitted?
Sometimes its against people or things that are unrelated. We just want to vent – to release some strong emotion that we’ve built up in our heads. It gets taken out on the wrong person, or its just vindictive gossip to make someone look bad behind their back. When do you belittle your spouse, say something that makes your kids feel worthless or unwanted, talk down your ex in front of the kids, or treat some salesperson poorly because you’re angry at someone else?
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19b-20 NIV
There’s a better way.
“What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” Romans 9:22-24 NAS
Did you catch that? We are those ‘vessels of wrath’ – full of indignation and self-righteous anger - and deserving nothing in return but God’s anger.
BUT GOD. He’s the patient one, and has put up with our mayhem so that, by showing us mercy, everyone would know how glorious He is.
So we can become ‘vessels of mercy’ – His mercy – that we can pour out on others.
I understand when you get angry. (Believe me, I do.) You have plenty of reason to be. But in that, there is an infinite, inexhaustible ocean of mercy stored up and ready to tap.
Next time you get angry, would you tap into that?