God desires for us to be forgiving people. But why is it so hard to show grace? Usually it comes down to one word: anger.
Anger is not all bad. There’s good anger. Even Jesus would flip over a table or two. In Latin they had two words for anger: Ira (which is where we get the word ‘irate’) and furor (which is where we get the word, ‘fury’.). Ira was the kind of anger that was motivated by an injustice and could help one respond and speak out. Furor was blind wrath when anger took over and distorted all views of reason. We sometimes call these moments a “blow up” or for parents, a “tantrum.” Anger is part of life and the more we can acknowledge it, the more we can learn how to show grace in these moments. The great Fred Rogers once said that our emotions are not only mentionable but manageable.
Here’s the problem with anger. Our anger can consume us. Think about a time when someone ridiculed you in a group setting. You stew on that moment and you dream up the perfect comeback. Your heart becomes consumed with revenge and anger. It’s paralyzing. This sort of anger poisons our spirit.
I bet you can think of a time recently where your anger distorted reason. Just this past Saturday, I came to the church looking for our Haygood table cloth that has the Haygood name and logo on it. It was such a nice day that people were gathering at the local park right across from my house. I wanted to engage with the community on behalf of Haygood. I purchased some popsicles to hand out. But I needed that tablecloth for some credibility. I didn’t want to be the strange grown man in the park, passing out popsicles to kids. So I came to the church and I could not find it anywhere. The more I searched, the more agitated I became. So I politely texted our staff on a Saturday. They politely responded they didn’t know where it was. So less politely I replied saying, “We got to find this. It shouldn’t be this difficult.” I knew it wasn’t their fault, but my anger was rising and starting to move to blame. Thankfully, Caroline, was a voice of reason and said, “Have you checked the little camper? We were putting a lot of stuff in there on Christmas Eve.” Guess what. She was correct and my agitation was replaced by relief. Anger can consume us and poison us.
God does not want us to live in anger because it cripples our spirit. God’s answer for anger was Jesus who taught us the way forward was forgiveness.