Faith-Filled Friday: Anger’s Fine Points

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How to measure the value of your righteous indignation.

Recently, I was reading Numbers during my devotional time, and God used the story of Moses to teach me something new about anger management. I was reading Numbers chapter 20, which relates the story of one of the few times that Moses lost his temper with the Israelites.

The incident happened in the middle of the Israelites’ trip back to the border of Canaan after wandering the desert for 40 years. God directed them to camp, but they discovered there was no water for them or their animals to drink.

Munching on their manna cakes and standing in the only shade available—under the pillar of cloud—the Israelites accused Moses and Aaron of bringing them there to die of thirst. To add insult to injury, they wished they had never left Egypt.

Indignant Rage

Unfortunately, though Moses had the answer to the problem from God Himself (Numbers 20:8), he was filled with indignation at the Israelites’ complete lack of faith and respect for the God who had done so much for them.

He gathered the people before the rock as God directed, but his anger and frustration had so consumed his mind that he forgot what He was supposed to say and do. Instead, he scolded the people (Numbers 20:10-11), and pounded the rock (perhaps visualizing their hard heads), instead of speaking to it. On the surface, it seems a minor deviation from what God told him to do. But God saw it differently and denied Moses entrance to the land of Canaan because of his words and actions.

God’s punishment always seemed a little over the top to me.

This time, instead of moving on in the story, I stopped and asked God, “Why would You do that? What was so offensive about what he did?”

The Wrong Idea

That’s when the Holy Spirit helped me see it from God’s perspective. Moses was the mouthpiece of God. He represented God to the people. However, in this situation, he completely misrepresented God. He gave vent to his own feelings and struck the rock in anger.

Moses’ words and actions painted a picture of God that was false.

If God had not punished Moses, the Israelites would have assumed that his reaction was God’s reaction to them. They would have thought that God is not patient, kind, and long-suffering. That God Himself could lose control when severely provoked.

Not only would this have created unwarranted fear of God, but it would provide them with justification for losing control when they felt provoked.

Hebrews 4:12 NKJV states, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Check the Replay

At that moment, the Word of God came alive and pierced my soul revealing to me a whole new side of the part I played in an argument my husband and I had the week before. True, we had since calmed down, and each apologized. But God put it on instant replay so that I could see it from His perspective.

That’s when I saw the moment I gave free rein to my anger, just as Moses had done. I remembered the rage boiling up from deep within and the torrent of words that came rushing out. The feeling of “righteous” indignation and the way I felt justified because my husband had provoked me. Suddenly I saw it in a whole new light.

As a professing Christian, I am supposed to represent Christ to those around me, especially those closest to me. How I act at home is the best test of the authenticity of my Christianity.

What I gave free rein to was not in line with God’s character. Like Moses, I misrepresented God to my husband. I damaged His reputation. I had sinned against God.

How to Vent

Does that mean that I should never confront my husband if he does something that hurts me in some way? No. But when I confront, I need to be sure that Christ is living in me and is reflected in that I say and how I say it, rather than Satan and my out-of-control emotions.

We are human. We will have strong reactions and emotions.

But it is far better to clamp our mouths shut and retreat to our prayer closets to hash it out with God before we say anything to others. Giving vent to our frustration and anger does not allow Christ to be seen in us by others, especially by those closest to us.

“A fool vents all his feelings,

But a wise man holds them back.”

Proverbs 29:11 NKJV

 

 

 

 

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