What a penetrating question!
Is it right for you to be angry?
Of course, if you’re familiar with the Bible, you might recall that God asked the prophet Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry” (Jonah 4:4)? Because of the context of this question, God was not expecting a response – the question was a rebuke!
And the question also serves as a rebuke for us. Why? Because of the nature of anger.
Anger is the result of feeling that an injustice has occurred. For Jonah, the “injustice” was that God spared the pagan Ninevites from destruction (Jonah 3:10). For us, the injustice may be anything, from being cut off on the road, to being given a life sentence in prison. Just like Jonah, nine times out of ten, we do not have a right to be angry.
We don’t have a right to be angry for two reasons:
First, because injustices that occur in this life are ultimately out of our control.
God is sovereign over all that happens. Do we have a right to question God’s ways (c.f. Rom 9:20)?
Second, what may seem like injustice to us, may not be true injustice.
It was injustice in the eyes of Jonah that Nineveh repented;
but it was mercy in the eyes of God that Nineveh repented.
What we, therefore, need to understand is that vengeance about injustice is not ours; vengeance is the Lord’s (Rom 12:19). The Lord will ultimately make all wrongs right—in this life or the life to come.
So, the solution to our anger is to remember and believe that we are not God; we are not in control; we do not have the right to take what is God’s—his sovereign ruler ship as he pleases. Though injustice might happen to us in this life, what we deserve is far worse than what we receive.
Believer, what are you angry about or who are you angry at today? Is it something that happened to you earlier today or yesterday? Or perhaps you have been living in a state of anger for quite some time? Perhaps most of your life? The question is: do you have a right to be angry? Most likely not. If not, then repent of that anger: confess it to the Lord with deep grief and sorrow of heart and turn from the anger to rest in God’s sovereign and righteous ways.
For more on anger as seen in the life of Jonah, see the sermon here “Jonah, Part 5: Anger Against God“