Del Rosario: Can anger be good?

I AM baffled. When do we resort to righteous anger and when do we practice the great advice, “It is better to be kind than to be right?” Can we be angry and still be kind? What does the bible verse mean in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry, and yet do not sin?”

Dr. Henry Cloud wrote in his book, “The Secret Things of God,” that God wired us to get angry. Why, when anger seems so destructive? His answer: So we can have good relationships. It is so confusing, right? How can anger bring about good relationships?

He says that while anger seems so destructive, especially when not controlled, it should be meant to preserve good things and not destroy them. In fact, if used properly, anger can be an important tool for good relationships and good life.

What then is the nature of righteous anger? Dr. Cloud describes it as a protective emotion, designed to protect what is good and destroy what is bad. “We get angry, by design, when something that is good and valuable to us is endangered or injured or threatened.”

All of us face different kinds of trials everyday. Sometimes, they are small trials. Sometimes, they are a crisis of intense magnitude. For example, when a loving relationship is threatened by betrayal, cheating or lying, our anger is aroused and we most often react with great fury, standing up for the love that is threatened.

I am slowly beginning to understand the righteous anger that someone close to me has shown in the past. He was standing up for what is right. He was fighting for love, and doing his best to put an end to what he believed was evil.

If in spite of the evil we see and we do not feel any anger, our hearts could grow cold, and we could become a prisoner in a relationship without even knowing it. So, indeed anger, if used properly, can be a good thing. It is like a good soldier, protecting its country; or a strong immune system, protecting its body.

Dr. Cloud writes that the secret to anger is just like the verse says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

If we are to protect and preserve the good things in life, we need to “feel our anger” to know that something is wrong. It is our signal. But when we do, we should not sin in the way we use it. How? First, ask ourselves if what we are angry about is worth protecting.

Maybe we are just protecting our pride, or our own control of things. Our pride is definitely not worth protecting, but our love is. Where is our anger coming from?

Next, we need to use self-control. We should not do anything reckless. We shouldn’t act on impulse, instead use our mind. We think before we act. Talking out with others will also help. We should never make a move, when we are too impassioned.

Finally, Dr. Cloud’s advice is to “Use anger to solve the problem,” and not to hurt anyone. So, we need to be very careful with our choice of words, as well as our actions. We could so easily hurt the hearts we want to love and protect, with the words we utter, and even just the look in our eyes. Would you like to be told in your anger, “If looks could kill, I would be dead already.”

“I love you but I don't like what you did,” is attacking the problem, not the person. Let us keep in mind to be kind, even in our anger. We take a stand AGAINST the issue at hand, but FOR the persons we love. I believe this is the righteous anger God wants us to practice. To be angry, and yet not sin.

My Dearest Family,

I still believe there are more instances when “It is better to be kind than to be right.”Oftentimes, they are during moments when our “pride” and the need to be “right” are at the forefront. Indeed, “we don't need a brilliant mind that speaks, but a patient heart who listens.” I regret more the things I have said that hurt, than missing out to express my indignation over an insult or a slight that I was tempted to retort to.
I think of the times I got angry and insisted on my opinion. On hindsight, oftentimes, all the other person needed was to be validated and listened to. I could have been kinder. On those instances, again my mother was right. “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say it.” James 1:19, is a good verse to remember. “……But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”

On the other hand, on more critical issues, (like defending love and freedom) I agree with Dr. Cloud, we ought to act in righteous anger, but do not sin. I know it is easier said than done. But, yes, with the right frame of mind and right attitude of the heart, we can be right and still be kind. Let us learn from the example of our own Savior Jesus Christ, who was angry, and yet did not sin. (Matthew 21:12-13)

I still am far from fully understanding and much less, practicing righteous anger in my life. But, I pray for wisdom for all of us, that we may be granted the grace to practice it, especially at the crucial moments in our life.
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