I’ve already gotten a few helpful questions and comments about Sunday’s sermon, “The Gripes of Wrath.” Thank you! Let me respond to two here.
First, “Is it conscious?” By this is meant, “Are our angry responses conscious responses to the identifiable violation of our lordship?” Often, no. We do not usually process our anger so deliberately: “She has broken my rule in this way. I shall now get angry.” It is far more reactive than reflective. This testifies to how deeply it is woven into our person to seek our own, to protect ourselves. Another word for this is original sin!
This is especially true of explosive anger. We haven’t named it in our minds as a transgression of our boundaries; we just instinctively know it has happened and react. Seethers, on the other hand, may reflect at length on the specific nature of the transgression, though they may not have identified the problem as being their sinful desire for lordship.
Second, “What good does it do to identify it as a problem of lordship?” If I’m not actively reflecting on the transgression of my lordship as the cause of my anger, how does describing unholy anger as arising from my desire to be god help?
We may not be reflective in our anger, but we should at least be reflective about our anger. Saying that unholy anger often results from our desire to be lord of our lives and the unavoidable ways in which our lordship will be violated gives us a lens to analyze what is going on in our anger, even if after the fact. Here’s how we may progress:
1. Assess. The next time you get angry, use the description of unholy anger as arising from a desire to be god of your own life to help you identify specifically what area of life you are still desiring lordship over.
2. Confess. Armed with this information you can confess more specifically. Rather than, “Forgive me, Lord, for getting angry again,” you can say, “Forgive me, Lord, for the unholy desire to control my job circumstances and for the unholy anger that I express when I can’t.” This gets more at the root and not just the fruit.
3. Profess. Having identified this specific area in which you desire to exercise lordship, you can speak a word of profession, professing Christ as Lord of that area of your life. “Lord Christ, I proclaim that you exercise all true Lordship, and are Lord of my job circumstances. Conform my heart to your reign.”