How to Let Go of Offense and Anger
It is a good thing to defend faith and take a stand for what is right. Scripture encourages us to be discerning and it is appropriate to call sin what it is and to expose injustice. Sometimes a battle is called for.
But we don’t have to do it with anger.
Christians often get a reputation for being angry, self-righteous people and sadly, we sometimes earn it.
Some of us believe we are called to righteous anger and fighting battles for the Lord in order for the world to take our faith seriously. Maybe that’s why there are so many unhappy Christians walking around. We can’t be at peace that God is in control if we are in a perpetual state of being offended and angry over the choices of others.
God never asks us to be angry in defending the gospel or in any other circumstance. In fact, nearly every scripture about anger speaks of it as a negative thing to be avoided. Even the scripture we most use to justify righteous anger doesn’t say what we think it does (Ephesians 4:26 ESV, “Be angry yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger.”). It is not telling us to be angry, it is telling us that when we do get angry (and we will because we are human!), don’t let it cause us to sin and don’t hang on to it.
It is my personality to have a strong heart for justice. I want others to do what is right according to scripture. In and of itself, that is not a bad thing – there are many examples in scripture of people God used to deliver that kind of message through his prophets. But if I take it on myself to make others do what is right, I can become more critical than compassionate and more judgmental than merciful. When I succumb to anger or offense it is usually because I’m not in control or not getting the results I want.
The truth is it isn’t my job to make right the wrongs of others: God is in control.
God has this – whatever “this” is on any given day. He has a plan and he will make things right in his own perfect time and way. The Holy Spirit’s job is to work in our human hearts to convict, restore, teach, illuminate God’s word and convict unbelievers of sin and need for a Savior. I may be used by God to introduce others to the gospel of Jesus Christ or to teach the truth of scripture, but only the Lord can change the heart. When hearts are transformed, changed behavior follows.
So what does the Lord ask of me? Scripture gives me direction in Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Justice, mercy and humility do not contradict each other. There is room for all three to shine through when I let go of offense and anger.
In my pursuit of justice, mercy and humility, I have to be obedient in studying scripture, relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and give me words to say that glorify God as I’m told in 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
This is also confirmed in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”
I may be deeply concerned and proactive about what is wrong in our society, government or the behavior of others but I don’t have to become offended or angry over it. God will make all things right, with perfect justice, grace and mercy that I am not capable of.
How can you let go of offense and anger today? What is holding you back from believing that God will make all things right?